Get Inspired:How to Add a Little More Oomph to Your Workout
What happened to your workout? It used to be fresh and challenging every time but now your exercise routine is, well, simply a routine. Sure, it’s better for your wellbeing to do a lack-lustre workout than no workout at all, but don’t you want more for your fitness and wellness? There are plenty of ways to get more out of your gym time, so read on to get inspired!
1. Keep an eye on the time: The gym is a social place, which means you can end up spending all your time chatting away and taking trips to the water fountain, instead of actually doing anything. Studies have shown that the best results come from short and intense workouts. Dave Smith, owner of GreenFit Health & Fitness, recommends, ‘For a killer workout pace, try allowing just 60 seconds of rest between each set to add a cardiovascular element to the workout. This increases fat-burning while packing on lean muscle.’
2. Play cupid: While you may think of strength training and cardio exercise as two separate beasts, it’s high-time that you get those crazy kids together. If you add a cardio interval to your strength training, such as using a skipping rope or doing 20-second sprints, this can rev your metabolism while still allowing for added strength.
3. Be a poser: According to Smith, ‘Contracting a muscle and holding it in a flexed position (aka isometric exercise or static holds) provide strength and endurance benefits that can’t be achieved through traditional isotonic exercises (i.e. lifts that are in constant motion).’ Try doing stability ball wall squats to engage your thighs and glutes, starting with a 30-second goal and moving towards holding this static position for longer periods of time.
4. Skip the Machines: Smith explains, ‘While exercise machines do make resistance training user-friendly, they simply do not get the job done like free-weight exercises. Lifting with free weights will incorporate more stabilizing muscles and therefore burn more calories than their weight machine counterparts. The same can be said for bodyweight exercises, which can be more effective for core strengthening and calorie-burning than workouts done on machines.’
5. Be a little more instable: While it’s not great advice for your mental health, challenging your balance in terms of your fitness routine can help give you the boost you need. ‘Exercises that require balance stimulate more muscle recruitment, specifically core muscles, than the same exercise done in a stable position,’ says Smith. ‘This is rather intuitive: Is a squat standing on the floor as challenging as one standing on a wobble board? Of course not. The good news is most stable exercises can easily be geared up by adding a BOSU or stability ball.’ Just make sure you don’t compromise your form, as this can lead to nasty injuries.
6. Explode: It used to be that bodybuilders used slow, heavy lifts to build bulk and strength, but not research shows that explosive movements are the way to go. Smith comments, ‘Box jumps, kettlebell swings, and plyometric push-ups can achieve a greater response from something called fast-twitch muscles (the ones used during quick, powerful movements).’ Plus, as an added bonus, your fast-twitch fibres have a greater potential for growth compared to your slow-twitch fibres.
7. Join the resistance: In the words of Marty Mcfly, this is getting heavy. According to a recent study, if you lift a heavy weight for just eight reps, you will burn double the calories than if you had lifted lighter weights for 15 reps. Smith advises, ‘Keep adding weight (in small 2- to 5-pound increments) to an exercise until achieving three sets of 10 reps becomes very challenging (as in almost impossible to squeeze out the final rep!). Practice with that weight until 10 reps becomes too doable and then add a few more pounds of resistance.’
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