I've been really encouraged this week hearing many of my friends talk about their excitement to start exercising, working out, and getting back in shape. And of course, I've enjoyed watching all the new faces migrate into the gym. Hopefully most of those folks will still be there next month. In light of all this, one thing I've noticed - especially this last week - is so many people who've leaped the biggest hurdle of them all - just getting there - only to evidently have no idea what to do now that they're there. Let me make this clear from the start: I am NOT a trainer, an exercise expert, or anything more than a recreational athlete, BUT...exercise is an almost-daily part of my life, I've spent the last 10 years getting in better shape, and I consider running and weight-lifting to be 2 of my favorite things to do. So, with that, I want to share some tips for anyone who might be diving into a workout routine for the first time (or) even diving back into it after some time off (or) just looking for a way to shake things up and bust out of the routine. Here we go.
First off, when you go to the gym, have a plan. I see so many people that walk in, wander around, and barely break a sweat over 45 minutes. If you're going in the morning, map out or decide WHAT you're going to do before you even go to sleep. Take a flash card if necessary. Have a plan!
Another thing to take into consideration is that if after 15 minutes - regardless of what you're doing - if you haven't broken a sweat, it's time to pick it up! I don't know how people who walk 2.2 mph on the treadmill think they're burning fat. If their goal is to make sure their legs aren't dead, then maybe they're successful. But if you're there to burn fat, build muscle, and pump your heart, you better be bringing a towel with you.
After you've been working out and exercising awhile your body stops being fooled - your muscles get used to what you're doing - and it needs to be tricked. Throw a curve in your workout. Swim laps, go to Spin Class, take Zumba (but don't expect me to be there). Shake things up! One thing I love to do at least once every 3 weeks is circuit training. If you're not familiar, here's a page-full of examples on LIVESTRONG. Basically, it's moving from one exercise to another, spending about 3-5 minutes on each one. For me, I'll usually do something like this:
Stretch/warm-up - 5 minutes
Treadmill - 1 min/walk, 2 min/medium, 1 min/fast, 1 min/walk
Abs - 4 min
Stationary Bike - (repeat Treadmill routine)
Weight station - 4-5 minutes [Example: mix up 2 different dumbbell routines]
Arc Trainer - (repeat Treadmill routine)
Leg Press - 4-5 minutes [pyramid down]
Start Over at Treadmill, repeating whole "circuit" 2-3 times.
If at this point I'm not throwing anything new out at you, here are some other simple ways to amp up your time in the gym:
- Put your water bottle on the far side of the gym so you have to walk to get to it
- Regardless what you're doing, every 5 minutes run in place for 30 seconds
- Pick someone out at the gym in a little bit better shape than you and determine to do everything harder & faster than they do (Keep this to yourself!)
- Set goals - REAL goals - and reward yourself for achieving them
- If you're addicted to your iPhone or Blackberry, leave it in the car! No one else in the gym wants to hear your incredibly important conversation (&) that smartphone - in the gym - is just making you look dumb.
- Buy some new workout clothes or shoes. First off, it can be a self-motivator. But also, there's a chance your old workout clothes stink.
Here's the bottom line to it all: DO SOMETHING!
You owe it to yourself - and to those who love you - to take this body that the Lord has given you and do something! Have fun! Your couch can massage your butt for hours and yet, it won't get it in shape. DO SOMETHING! Break a sweat. Get your heart rate up. Take care of yourself.
What ideas did I leave out?
Would love to hear your thoughts. Inspire and motivate us!