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Out with the old. It’s time to change it up!

2328879637_c0d2e376ffHow are you doing with those New Year’s resolutions to reach your optimal health and fitness? For many people improved fitness is a big aim for the new year, but keeping it up can be difficult! Here’s some help. Remember, you only get back what you put in so make each day and each decision count. Because with each you either move closer to or further away from your goals and ideal health.

Lack of time is often the main reason folks say they fall off the wagon and don’t exercise regularly. Surely, we can all devote a minimum of 3o minutes out of every 24 hour day to improving our own health and the overall health of our country. That’s really all it takes! You can even split it up into 3 ten minute sessions if you have to. The point is, it’s like brushing your teeth and showering each day. You just have to do it!  In truth it’s not about the number of minutes spent exercising. It’s about DOING IT and what you do with the time you have. A properly designed fitness program involves getting maximum results in minimum time, rather than spending countless hours spinning your wheels.

Here are my tips to help you keep your New Years resolution, eliminate the excuses and get more fit for your efforts.

Out With the Old …

If you are doing the same old activity at the same pace for the same number of minutes, you can expect to stay the same this year.

In With the New …

If you enjoy the type of activity but the results have ceased, interval training takes your current cardio workout to the next level by breaking it into pre-determined increments of time, during which you move at different speeds or intensities. For example, instead of a 3-mph, 30-minute walk. Choose a set number of minutes per interval and continually rotate between them. For example let’s say, a warm-up pace(2 minutes)and a moderately faster pace(3 minutes). The time ratios can be what ever you’d like them to be but you want to feel as though you are working at an overall moderate intensity once you are warmed up.

If you use a treadmill you can also increase the level of incline at each interval, for a stationary bike, elliptical machine or stair-stepper, you can increase tension. The idea is to alternate between levels of higher and lower intensity levels throughout the entire workout, reserving the last few minutes as a cool down interval.

To be safe, if you have pre-existing medical conditions or are just beginning an exercise program, check with your doctor before altering your current training method. Once cleared, don’t overdo it the first few weeks out. Instead, gradually increase your endurance and stamina over time.

Out With the Old …

If your cardio workouts always involve the same type of activity and you are ready for a change, try this.

In With the New …

Cross training is a great way to increase calorie burning and spice up your workouts. With this method, you choose between different activities – performed within the same workout or alternate the different activities from workout to workout. Cross training is an ideal way to alleviate boredom and avoid plateaus in your training because it provides a constant challenge both mentally and physically. An example of a cross-training workout would be to start with 10 minutes of walking, followed by 10 minutes of light jogging or dancing or weight lifting, followed by 10 minutes of stair climbing or biking or maybe finish off with 10 minutes of stretching. Whatever activities you enjoy can be implemented with this method but mix it up regularly. That will help keep you motivated and increase your results.

An other option is to do a different type of activity each day of the week. This will keep it interesting and prevent boredom and the dreaded plateau. For example, you might walk on Monday, do upper-body weight training on Tuesday, jog or dance on Wednesday, do lower-body weight training on Thursday and take a Yoga or Pilates class on Friday. Cross training gives you the opportunity to work all of your major muscle groups, and provides you with a continual well-rounded fitness plan.

Out With the Old …

If the weight lifting routine that once gave you such great results is no longer working, you’ve hit that plateau! Time to change it up.

In With the New …

Doing the same exercise machines, in the same order, with the same number of reps and sets and weight loads is boring and predictable and bound to cause burnout eventually. Why not work on your stamina, strength and muscle building all at the same time? On your next weight lifting day try circuit training.

Circuit training involves choosing 4-5 strength-training exercises, alternated with short periods of cardio (3-5 minutes) and repeating for a number cycles. You’ll want to move fairly quickly through the strength training exercises to keep the heart rate up, but don’t sacrifice your form. Add variety to your workout by continually changing the exercises and the amount of weight lifted and number of reps from week-to-week or workout-to-workout. Be sure to strengthen and stretch all muscle groups not just your “favorites”. We want to stay balanced and prevent injuries.

By choosing exercises that work more than one muscle group such as squats, lunges, pushups and pull ups, you will make the most of your time and significantly raise calorie burn and stamina. Try linking few movements together such as a squat with a bicep curl with a shoulder press. Full body movements like this one are most time-efficient and are also great for your core.

Remember to always listen to your body and use the RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) Chart to help determine your intensity level. Most benefits can be achieved in the 4-6 ranges but occasional visits to the 7-8 range can get you over the hump. Work at the  level that feels right for you. Don’t overdo it! It’s always best gradually increase your endurance, stamina and strength over time.

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More tips to maximize your workouts coming up!

If you have medical conditions you should talk with your healthcare provider before you begin an exercise program.

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