As the holidays fast approach, your time becomes filled with countless social events and your good intentions to keep your exercise routine goes out the window.
Who has time to hit the gym between shopping, working and let’s face it – partying. If you want to avoid the inevitable holiday weight gain and general lethargic feeling that goes along with it, a bit of creativity to fit exercise into your holiday schedule may be in order.
Here are 12 easy ways to make it more reasonable for you to fit in your workout or at least make it a shorter and more effective one. To put it simply, get “more for less” from your workouts.
Circuit training is a great way to keep your heart rate up and get your cardiovascular exercise while resistance training. Set up a five- or six-exercise circuit so, for example, your ‘rest’ period between your bicep curls are your lunges. Go from one exercise straight into the next one so you rest one muscle group while working the other. You can also add short bursts of one to three minutes of running/stepping/fast-walking to make it even more intense.
Ramp up your cardio workout. Only have 20 minutes to exercise? Why not get the most out of your cardio workout on the treadmill, elliptical, stair climber or your outdoors run. Do a three-minute warm up, then ‘go for it’ for two to three minutes and then take a minute to recover at a slower pace and repeat. By working at a high intensity for shorter bursts, followed by a short recovery, you will burn more calories than working at a moderate pace the entire time.
Lift heavier weight for fewer reps. Try lifting weights 25 to 50 per cent heavier than you normally do, but decrease the repetitions. For example, if you normally use 10 pounds and lift three sets of 10 for your bicep curls, try 12.5 to 15 pounds for three sets of six instead. As long as your muscles are fatigued by the last set, you are good.
Try doing full-body exercises. Do exercises that require multiple muscles and joint movements such as push-ups, burpees, lunges and planks.
Try a class combining cardio and resistance training to get more out of your time, such as TRX or a Body Blast class at the gym.
Combine upper and lower body movements. For example, squat with weights in your hands and as you come up from your squat go right into shoulder presses or do squats right into a pulley row to maximise your time. It will also surely get your heart rate up.
Change the surface you work on. Try doing your exercises sitting on a stability ball or standing on a BOSU ball to work your core. For example, if you stand on a BOSU ball while doing bicep curls you will work your arms, core and legs. You can even add a squat in between bicep curls if you are feeling energetic. If you don’t have any equipment, simply standing on one foot while working through arm exercises is another effective way to get more from your workout.
Add Plyometrics. By adding one to three minutes of things like jumping jacks, mountain climbers or jumping up onto a step in between your resistance training will increase your heart rate and get the legs burning.
Take short, intense walks throughout the day. If you have a treadmill at home, jump on it for 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch hour and 10 minutes at night and all of a sudden you have 30 minutes of cardio finished just in time for your office party.
Add exercise into your regular daily activities. Take the stairs, park further away from the grocery store entrance or when you get up from your desk to stretch do some lunges if you can.
Schedule your workout into your diary. If you schedule a time and date for your workout, you will be more likely to stick to it. Treat it the same as any other appointment and remember how good you will feel afterward.
Work out with a friend. Many of us need a bit of motivation from friends and family to get moving. Why not get a buddy and sign up for a few sessions with a personal trainer to get you going? You not only have a friend to keep you going but you also have a scheduled appointment you can’t miss.
Deanna Smith is an exercise physiologist and Pilates instructor at ENERGY. She can be contacted at: [email protected] or 946-6006.