Thursday, October 18, 2012

Make The Most of Your Routine

I strive to find a little time each day to dedicate to fitness. And knowing how hard it is to carve out that time, I want to make sure I am making the most of it. My workout needs to be effective and worth the effort I put into it. I make a point of not "phoning" it in.

Here are some tips I have for making the most of your exercise routine:

1. Change it up and often. I would say that the biggest game-changer for your fitness routine is making sure to keep from plateauing. You need to switch it up. I see so many of the same people at the gym doing the same things over and over. It's like their body is coasting...5 miles on the treadmill {check}, abs {check}...and so on and so forth. A great rule of thumb is to change things up every two weeks. Especially with strength-training. This may simply be adding in more weight/reps, or trying a completely new exercise for the muscle group you work. I found a book a few years back that changed my fitness routine forever and highly recommend it - The Body Sculpting Bible For Women. It taught me what my routine needs to entail in order to be effective. Keep those muscles guessing...and you will see better results.

2. HIIT. Another effective way to keep from plateauing is high-intensity interval training {HIIT}. This is a form of workout that keeps your heart rate high while switching off and on from different forms of cardio/strength moves that for the most part use your entire body {think Insanity}. It's also a great form of workout when you are short on time...these quick bursts of intensity keep that metabolism high and burning calories long after your workout is done.


3. Focus on one or two muscle groups per workout {strength-training}. I don't like to be all over the place when strength-training. I find it best to focus on one big or two smaller groups of muscles per workout. If I jump from arms to legs all the time, I'm not sufficiently tearing down those muscles enough to rebuild and tone them. When you focus on a single {or two smaller} group{s}, you are able to tear down the muscles...and afterward provide sufficient recovery via rest {wait 48 hrs to work the muscle group again} and nutrients to rebuild them...which brings me to my next tip:

4. Simple Carb + Protein after each workout. You have to refuel your body with the right nutrients post-workout to rebuild what you just tore down. This is the best method I have learned. Great examples of this type of post-workout snack would be - chocolate milk, fruit protein smoothie, string cheese + fruit, nuts + fruit, etc. Your simple carbs are sugars - try to get those from something like fruit, not candy...and then any protein source - nuts, eggs, cheese, lean meat, whey protein, etc.

5. Aim to workout 5-6 days per week. An ideal workout includes a focused strength-training workout {one large or two smaller groups as described above} and at least 30 minutes of cardio. Here's an example of the workout schedule I try to follow and rotate week to week:

Day 1: Legs/Glutes, Cardio - Elliptical 30 min
Day 2: Shoulders/Biceps, Cardio - Treadmill 30 min
Day 3: Back, Cardio - Elliptical 30 min
Day 4: Legs/Glutes {I work these twice a week}, Cardio - Treadmill 30 min or a Spin Class
Day 5: Chest/Triceps, Cardio - Elliptical 30 min

And I just keep on rotating those, while maybe adding in a barre class, outdoor running, etc. in place of something else to keep mixing it up. One rest day a week is important...and always listen to your body.

Do you have any tips of your own for making the most of your workout routine? I would love to hear them!

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