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Back to School and Back to Basics


Labour day is one of my favourite holiday weekends. For many, it signals the end of summer but for me, it has always been the time to start something new. It marks the start of a new school year, a new hockey season, and for some gym bros, the beginning of a long winter’s bulk. But as your priorities shift from patios to presentations, it’s easy to let your fitness goals slip away. Here are a few changes that you can make to keep things simple and on track this fall:

Switch your Schedule

Earlier this year, I started working out in the morning. This was great for the summer. The warmth and extra daylight made it easy to wake up at 5:45 a.m. to hit the gym. Getting my workout in first thing also gave me the flexibility to say “yes” to all of the unplanned patio meetings and after-work socials. But as the mornings get colder and patio chairs get put away, it may be time to reconsider your training schedule. Take a look at your calendar and think about what works best for you. With fewer social commitments, September can be a great time to take advantage of an after-work appointment with the squat rack. If you’re having troubles sticking to your schedule, find a buddy to keep you honest.

Boy in a gym

Rewrite your Routine

If you’re changing up your schedule, you’ll probably also want to switch up your routine. If you plan on working out more frequently this fall, you should look to narrow your focus and opt for more targeted training. If you’re into weight-lifting, try concentrating on one or two muscle groups each day. This will give your muscles more time to recover and grow.

However, if you find that September leaves you more time-crunched, or just more likely to stay in bed, then consider switching to a full-body routine. Your body will have plenty of time to recover if you’re training 2 or 3 days a week. So, make the most of your workout and pack in a few compound exercises. 

Prep your Ingredients

As the days get shorter, it can be tough to find the time and motivation to cook. To help, there are a lot of people who suggest meal prep. While this definitely cuts down on kitchen time, I could never get into eating reheated food and planning my entire week. Instead, I recommend ingredient prep, which is something I learned about while working in restaurant kitchens. Restaurant chefs will come in a few hours before meal-time to cut up and prepare all of their key ingredients. This way, when you place an order later in the evening, kitchen staff can quickly fire up all of their pre-prepped ingredients and get you your chicken and rice sooner. The same concept can be applied at home, to save time during a busy work week. At the start of the week, chop up a few veggies and thaw out anything frozen. As soon as you get home from work or the gym, toss your pre-prepped ingredients into the oven. Dinner will be ready by the time you’ve finished changing. This hybrid approach is a great way to avoid fast food temptation while maintaining your creativity in the kitchen. Though I’d be lying if I said I’d wasn’t going to sneak in a few Pumpkin Spice treats this fall.

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