Do you do the same exercise routine every week? Do you go to the same machines every gym session? If so, this may be why you are not seeing the dramatic results you want from your weight loss program. So here are some suggestions to increase the intensity of your next workout! Not only will these boost your metabolism but they will make your gym time much more interesting and fun.
10 Most Effective Strategies to Boost Your Workouts:
1. Increase your speed. What is your present exercise pace? If you are not sweating profusely 5-10 minutes into your workout, then you may simply be exercising too slowly. Know your body and your fitness level before you turn up the speed too high (which could risk injury). If you have never increased your pace before, simply increase it in small increments. For example, if you walk at 3 miles per hour, try 3.5 miles per hour next time. Of if you jog at 6 miles per hour, try to increase to 7 mph in the next 2 weeks. Another example is the stair climber (one of my favorites). Try to increase your steps per minute so that you are not at the same pace for more than 1-2 weeks. You may start at 60 or 70, but work up to 100 or more in the next 1-2 months. If you cannot tolerate a faster pace for the entire workout, then do some faster intervals between bouts of your normal pace.
2. Increase your intensity level. A good example is riding the stationary bike. I commonly see fellow gym-goers pedaling slowly at level 1. And after 30 minutes, they have not even broken a sweat. If you are 80 years old, and both your knees have been replaced, then you have my blessing to stay at level 1. For everyone else, steadily increase your intensity by one level at a time. You likely can tolerate a higher level than you think. When was the last time you increased your weight amount for biceps curls or overhead press? Do you always do 3 sets of 8 on your leg weights? Each of these needs to increase periodically for maximum results.
3. Add a new form of cardio. Cross training helps to strengthen various muscle groups, provides rest for stressed tissues and boosts your overall fitness. So even if you are training to run a race, you should not run every day. Do another form of exercise that builds your endurance but that has less strain on your knees or feet. Or if you usually do the elliptical machine, try the stationary bike or stair climber next time. Do not do the same form of cardio every day unless you have no other options. For example, if you do not belong to a gym but walk in the neighborhood every morning, then continue to do so as you have been. To spice up a walking program, add more hills, a faster pace or walk-jog intervals.
4. Add strength training. I hate to say it, but there are some stairmaster hogs at our gym. There are only 3 stair machines, and they are almost always full. And I often see the same people on the same machines for a full hour. If you normally do cardio for an hour and then go home, then add strength training to your workouts. Here are some options. Do your normal cardio, then do 20 minutes of strengthening. Decrease your cardio to 45 minutes, then do 15 minutes of strengthening. Do 10 minute cardio intervals with 10 minute strength intervals (alternate back and forth). Do 30-40 minutes of cardio and 30-40 minutes of strengthening. Do all strengthening with high intensity cardio intervals (1 minute fast cardio for every 5 minutes of strengthening). If you belong to a gym and don’t know what strengthening to do, try the machine weights or a strength class (such as body pump). A personal trainer can really help in this area (if you can afford it). Otherwise, do your own research to find websites, books or resources to give you new and various strength exercises. Building muscle tone increases your metabolism because muscles burn calories even when you are not exercising.
5. Work toward a goal. The type of goal depends on your reason for exercising. If you joined the gym in order to lose weight, then you should have some short-term and long-term weight goals. If you exercise for the cardiovascular benefits, then your goal may be to decrease your blood pressure or cholesterol levels. If your exercise is training for a race, then set a completion time goal. Without a goal, you can easily get into a workout rut. Any goal is appropriate as long as it challenges you to get the most out of every workout minute!
6. Find a challenging exercise partner. Do you find yourself clueless as to how to exercise? You don’t know which machines to use or even how to use them. The easiest person to help you is a family member or friend that exercises regularly at a location close to you. The next option is asking someone at the gym to guide you. Most gym members are happy to help a newcomer. Of course a personal trainer is the ideal person to give you 1 on 1 attention and to really challenge you to reach and exceed your goals.
7. Join a new exercise class. If you only do Zumba or step aerobics, then try a new class sometime. You may love it even more than your present workout. Spinning class is likely one of the most challenging gym classes available. If you usually do a water aerobics class and do not have any injury, then you should progress to out-of-water classes to steadily improve your fitness level. This is especially true for young or middle-aged individuals. Join a class where the other students look fit and thin; there is likely something about their workouts that is effective! I also highly recommend body pump/body bar classes, which incorporate both cardio and strength training together.
8. Check your 1 rep max. This takes me back to high school weightlifting class with Coach Mac (Go Capitals)! To determine how much weight to lift on each strength exercise, first find out your 1 rep max. How much weight can you lift only once? If you can do it more than once, keep increasing until you know your maximum. For muscle bulking, you will do 70-80% of your 1 rep max and perform 3 sets of 10. For muscle toning, do 50-70% of your 1 rep max and perform 3-4 sets of 12-15.
9. Increase your gym time per session. If you normally exercise for 30 minutes, then increase it by 5-10 minutes or more! 30 minutes is the minimum recommended amount, but doing the minimum will likely produce less results. To achieve greater weight loss, increase your workout time! I recommend 60 minutes, 5-7x/week. Just be sure to increase it slowly. If you have not exercised in 10 years, start with 10-20 minutes. Then slowly work up to 30, then 45, then 60 minutes.
10. Increase your weekly gym sessions. Exercising 1-2x/week will not produce the benefits you seek, so increase your frequency! Depending on your schedule, see which day(s) you can add a workout. It is important to exercise daily if possible. Build it into your weekly routine so that you will not neglect it. Otherwise, it will easily fall off your to-do list. If you cannot exercise 5-6x/week, then do 4-5x/week. Every time you do, you are investing in your own body, which is the only one you have. So make it a priority because no one else can do it for you.