What better time to make some changes to your workout than with the New Year? Sure, you know what you need to do to stay in shape, eat right and live a healthy lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean you should settle with the status quo. After all, in order to see changes in your body, you need to make changes to your routine. It’s often these small tweaks that can really break through your plateau and give your workouts new life. Here are six small changes you can make that can lead to really big results:
Try something new. Everyone has a routine that they like, but you will only see results if you continue to challenge your body. Try doing something new that you have never done. For example, if the elliptical is your go-to machine, try the treadmill or stair climber. If you always take spin classes, try a kickboxing or step class. For weight lifters, a hot yoga class is perfect for loosening up tight muscles but still working them in the process.
Choose active rest over complete breaks. One of the biggest blunders people make when they exercise is resting or taking breaks. You never want to completely rest while you are working out because you want to maximize your workouts. Rather than waiting out the forty-five to sixty seconds between your bicep curls, do a short burst of cardio like jumping rope or mountain climbers. You can even fit in a set of abdominal exercises. If you are doing cardio and need a quick break, slow down but keep moving!
Switch the order. If you always do cardio before you lift weights, reverse the order. Believe it or not, it’s better to do your strength training before your cardio. The main reason is that you are not exhausted from your cardio so you can lift heavier weights without sacrificing form or risking an injury. When you are done, hit the cardio. Even better—your body is already warmed up from the weights so you will benefit a lot more from doing your cardio work last as your body is already primed for fat burning.
Do the exercise you dislike the most. It can be push-ups, pull-ups, burpees, mountain climbers or box jumps, just to name a few. The reason they are not liked is their difficulty. But that is no reason to avoid doing them. If you always stick with what is easy or comfortable, you will never break through a plateau. Plus, the more you do them, the easier they will get—and then you can move on to the next dreaded exercise.
Do more in less time. When it comes to exercise, you definitely want quality over quantity. You can get a great workout in thirty to forty-five minutes as opposed to a full hour or longer as long you keep the pace fast and the intensity high. Circuits combine the best of both worlds—strength training and cardiovascular exercise. Choose eight to ten exercises that include working all your major muscle groups as well as some challenging cardio moves. Do each exercise for a full minute and go from one to the other with no rest.
Increase your intensity. Whether you bike, run, lift weights, swim or box, there is always room for increasing the intensity. Add some hills to those bike rides or runs, lift heavier weights, box while holding small hand weights. Whatever it is, go faster, heavier and harder.