Swimsuit season’s just around the corner. Get out of your workout rut and shape up for summer by incorporating these tips into your fitness routine.
If, like many people, you’ve found yourself in a rut at the gym-—doing the same elliptical workout followed by a circuit of the same machines every time-—odds are you’re also having trouble achieving your weight-loss goals. Maybe you’ve hit a plateau and can’t seem to shake those last ten pounds. Don’t get discouraged— here are some changes you can make to reignite your results.
Lift Heavier Weights
If you’re using the same weights every time you work out, you can’t reasonably expect to see results as the body quickly adapts to stresses placed on it. You’ll have to change what you’re doing in order to produce change in your body. This often means trying different exercises or types of equipment, but it also means challenging your muscles with much heavier weights than what you have been using.
Many women in particular are fearful of lifting heavier weights, which makes them go often for home bodyweight workouts with minimal or no equipment, concerned that lifting heavy will cause their muscles to bulk up. This is simply not going to happen.
Building lots of muscle mass, enough to appear larger in size, generally requires high volumes of lifting on individual muscle groups, a strictly regimented diet, and testosterone-—something not found in large quantities in most women. But building a little muscle mass is a good thing. You’ll appear leaner, firmer, and more toned—not bigger—and add sexy definition.
Besides, adding a few pounds of muscle will give a slight bump to your metabolism: more calories burned per day, even when you’re resting. This will allow you to better maintain your weight loss over time.
Add Interval Training to Your Cardio Routine
A common practice is to gravitate toward a single type of cardio equipment, press start, and begin exercising for at least 45 minutes at a preselected level of intensity. By doing this every time you work out, your body will get used to it, fast.
As a result, your weight loss might slow or stop altogether. In addition to that, such a type of workout doesn’t encourage to increase the intensity as it becomes less challenging.
If you typically do a long (40 minutes or more), moderate-intensity cardio workout, consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Here you’ll alternate intervals of work at a high intensity—think an 8 or 9 on a difficulty scale of 1 to 10—with moderate-intensity “recovery” periods (about a 6). An example would be to run on the treadmill and follow it by brisk walking. Whilst there is no set formula, a 1:3 ratio of high-intensity work to recovery is a good place to start.
Try alternating 30 seconds of work with 90 seconds of recovery for 20 minutes. Include a lower intensity warm-up/cool-down for 5 minutes each, and you have completed a 30-minute workout that will be shocking your body into burning more calories than it would do through a longer, lower intensity routine.
Do Cardio and Weights Every Time You Work out
When trying to lose weight, many will focus their time and energy on cardio, figuring that’s where most of their calorie burn will come from. As such, they’ll hit the treadmill four or five days a week, but only dedicate one or two days to strength training. And while cardio is essential to the health of your heart, lungs, and blood vessels, in the long run it’s the increased muscle tone strength training delivers that will help you keep the weight off.
Also, you can more effectively balance your calories through your diet than you can with cardio. Ask yourself which is easier—eating a few hundred fewer calories per day or slaving away on the elliptical for an hour?
Aim for at least three days a week of exercise, with each workout consisting of a warm-up, 30 minutes of strength training, and up to 30 minutes of high-intensity interval training. Not only will you be in and out of the gym in an hour, but you’ll jumpstart your weight-loss results just in time for beach season.
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