When you have a schedule crammed full of all the things that make up your busy life, you don’t have time to mess around with your workout. You want to get the best results possible for the time you invest – the good news is that you can do just that with just a few simple changes to your workout!
1. Keep proper form
One of the most common mistakes in exercise is not maintaining the correct form. Bad form can lead to undue strain or injury.
2. Take giant steps
During your cardio workout, take wide steps to shape up your thighs and buttocks and burn more calories. Short, shallow steps don’t place as much stress on the muscle to produce faster results. The same concept is true for running as well: runners who take long, deep strides burn more calories and cover more distance than short-striders. Just make sure your stride is in a range that you can safely manage.
3. Listen to your breath
During a cardio workout, check your breathing to see how hard you’re working. If you can carry on a conversation with ease, step it up a notch! How to know when you’re at the right level? The general rule of thumb is that when you can sing the national anthem but need a breath after every phrase, you’re most likely at the appropriate level for your needs. You should never work out so hard that you can’t talk or begin gasping for air or feel faint.
4. Double up your workouts
Combine weights and your cardio routine. You really see the best of both worlds by using interval training. Interval training is highly effective by alternating between 1 weight training exercise and approximately 5 minute of cardio. Traditional cardiovascular exercises focus on building aerobic capacity while weightlifting concentrates on increasing muscle strength. Combining the two into one interval training workout means you get benefits of both in a short amount of time.
5. Add variety
For many, the fastest way to become disillusioned with your workout is to do the same thing over and over again. If you don’t increase the intensity in some way, your body can become conditioned to the movements and fail to respond as you would like. Avoid all this by surprising your body, (Joe Weider’s Confusion Principle), with new and different challenges at least once a week. If you typically run several times during the week, try hiking at a nearby park. If you’re a Spinning devotee, take a Pilates class instead.
6. Challenge yourself
Set a goal for yourself every week that is beyond your normal effort. Try lifting weights that are a little heavier than you normally use, or walking three miles daily rather than two. Small goals like this are easily attainable and can make big changes in the results you see and how you feel. Remember, however, always think safety first.
7. Introduce yourself to stretching
Stretching is sometimes the crazy uncle of the exercise family – nobody really wants to talk about it, but the fact is stretching is key to getting more out of your training. Stretching may assists in muscle recovery and reduce soreness. Your entire body feels more comfortable when you have strong, flexible muscles. Spending a few minutes when you wake up and again before and after your workout really add up in terms of flexibility.
8. Don’t exercise on an empty stomach
Sure, it may seem efficient to work out when you haven’t eaten in hours but in reality it’s a bad decision. When your body’s fuel supply is low, you start feeling sluggish and slow – definitely not the ideal mood for a productive workout. An empty stomach does not equal more calories burned.
9. Snacks, not meals, provide the best fuel
Exercising on a full stomach can lead to cramps, upset stomach, and/or diarrhea because your body is trying to digest the meal and also provide you with energy at the same time. The best way to fuel your body without nasty side effects is to have a small snack 15 to 30 minutes before you exercise. Ideal snacks include foods with adequate carbohydrates: a slice of bread or serving of fruit.
10. Drink plenty of water
You’ve heard it over and over, but it really is true: When you become dehydrated, your entire body slows down and works much less efficiently. Drink water throughout the day as well as during and after exercise. We all run short on time these days but by incorporating one or more of these simple strategies you can maximize your workout time.
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Health and happiness,
Kriss Brooks is a nationally known fitness consultant, personal trainer, and motivational speaker. For more health and wellness tips visit her website at www.options4fitness.com