Spring Clean Your Workout
Your workout should leave you feeling great mood and energy wise and in a sense challenge to coming back for more the next time. Exercise programs need to be dynamic and evolving as our needs, goals and fitness levels change. But is it? Stop and take a check now. And if you are not experiencing any gains it is time to change. The gains could and should range from that high-energy buzz, to increased stamina and endurance, weight-loss, strength-gains, more effective movement, staying injury-free and more. So it is time to spring clean your workout – just like you probably clean your wardrobe! Here are some ideas that will help.
If your workout has you feeling uninspired, unmotivated or simply bored stiff, then it’s definitely time to change it. It’s hard enough to stay motivated and stick with a plan in the first place. If you’re dreading your workout or can’t wait for it to be over, you risk falling off the fitness train altogether. “Try a new class to get some new ideas. Choose exercises that challenge your mind and keep you mentally engaged. Exercises that work two or more muscle groups at once, or exercises that require you to put together complex movement patterns will help to keep boredom at bay. If running is your workout of choice, start incorporating a time challenge or make an effort to find a picturesque trail to keep you stimulated,” says Samantha Clayton, Herbalife Director of Worldwide Fitness Education.
Change your program
One of the easiest fixes for a workout slump is to do a different workout. For example get some intramural sports mixed into your routine. “It will get your muscle to move in new and interesting ways and give you mental challenges. Embrace the challenge of an entirely novel activity. Try the 5 minute rule. Set a timer and start your workout. If after five minutes you do not want to be doing it, you have full permission to stop,” advices Sonia Narang, Nutrition Expert, Oriflame India.
Choose Holistic Programs
The two biggest challenges to long-term results are complacency and/or working out in your comfort-zone and boredom that leads to a perpetual jumping from one program/gym to another. To combat this go for programs that are centred on the core philosophy of holistically integrating functionality with cardio, strength, core and flexibility components. This ensures varied, challenging workouts that are result-oriented while minimising risk of injury and stress to the body. Roshini Gilbert, Vice President, Fitness and Services at HealthifyMe, advices, “vary your workouts and target other muscles rather than focusing on the ones that are already in use. Activating different muscle groups prevents the occurrence of repetitive stress injuries and benefits your body overall. Do include some body weights and plyometric workouts.”
Workouts that have progression levels keep you engaged mentally and physically as you are able to quantify and measure your own progress; helping you stay focused to ensure further actual progress. “I often see people lifting very light weights for a high number of reps. This does not provide your body with an effective challenge. You can use your time more efficiently by increasing the weight. Select a weight that you can use to perform about 10-12 reps while maintaining good form. The last 3-4 reps should feel like a challenge. I like to follow a no more than 10% weight increase every 3-4 weeks. Repetition is essential for mastery and muscular change, so spend time when you first start out to select the best starting weight. Then you can work on increasing intensity only when it feels too easy,” says Clayton.
Workouts using varied equipment and methodology such as Pilates (which has hundreds of exercises) allows for innumerable variations that does not allow for any plateau or boredom. The workouts are not based on set routines involving repetitive movements. The mix of equipment and bodyweight exercises uses functional movements, varied directional and multi-plane patterns. “Using methodology such as Pilates ensures quality and effective movement. Workouts that focus on a high mind-body engagement help to make workouts more efficient and effective. Such workouts have a lower perceived level of exertion while staying very result-oriented,” says Anjali Sareen, Fitness and Pilates Educator & Co-owner of The Zone, Mind & Body Studio, Bangalore.
Mix it up
If you gym, choose varied equipment that is integrated into different workouts. “This includes medicine balls, stability cushions, jump-boards, resistance tubing, suspension straps, specialised Pilates equipment such as reformers, battle-ropes, free-weights and more,” says Sareen.
Increase the number of sessions you do in a week. “For example if you have been cycling two times in a week push that up to 3 or 4 times in a week depending upon your fitness levels and your goals. If you have been running for 20 minutes bump it up slowly to 30 minutes or so,” advices Swapneel Hazare, Sr. Fitness Consultant, Prosport Fitness Centre.
Change the Exercise Type
Target the same muscle but change the exercise. For example replace 20 minutes on treadmill to 20 minutes on a cross trainer. “Or instead of doing a flat bench press do a body weight or weighted push up. If you have been in to lifting weights then change your focus to say Aerobics or Zumba as this will help you move your body in different planes as compared to normal weight lifting where by your body will get a different stimulus and will respond brilliantly to it,” says Hazare.
The latest craze among workouts is functional training and high intensity interval training circuits more popularly known as HIIT Circuits. Here your heart rate is kept very high with longer work to rest ratio which in turns gives you a higher EPOC (Excessive Post Oxygen Consumption) which helps you to burn calories hours after you have finished your workout.
At times we get bored with working out and doing our regular routines. Lack of motivation brings your fitness levels down and you eventually and you start missing your workouts. Working out in partners or with a buddy helps you to push your limits to the next level. “You can spot each other and lift heavier weights and improve your strength levels. You can motivate each other and get the best of your workouts. Working out in partners will also mean u won’t miss your workout as you know your partner is waiting for you at the gym. Working out in partner will also mean you will learn a few new things from him and vice versa,” advices Hazare.
Remember the key is to choose a workout routine that focuses on adopting a smarter, more intelligent approach to exercise and fitness that will leave you feeling fitter, stronger and more energised!
This story appeared in the March 2017 issue of New Woman here: