When Going to the Gym Just Isn’t Enough
Everyone knows that regular exercise is beneficial to your overall health. If you’re faithfully hitting the gym and logging a full 30 minutes on your favorite cardio machine, that’s great, but you could be getting a lot more out of your workout.
While any exercise is more beneficial than just sitting on your couch, mixing up your routine could have added benefits. If you’re like most people, there’s probably an exercise or two that you absolutely hate, but did you ever wonder if maybe you dislike them so much because they’re working a weaker area of your body?
To fix those weak spots, create a variable routine that targets each of your major muscle groups. You should also alternate between focusing on increasing flexibility, building muscle and improving cardio.
A dynamic stretch to increase your flex
No matter how much you work out, daily commutes and long hours of sitting at a desk can really hamper your flexibility. A dynamic stretch, such as the forearm-to-instep lunge, can increase flexibility in your hips, hamstrings and lower back.
Give it a shot: Starting with your left foot, step into a lunge and bend forward at the waist. Your left forearm should be on the ground with your elbow touching the inside of your left foot. Your right hand should also be on the ground. Next, keep your right hand on the ground and twist your torso while reaching upward with your left hand. Return your hand to the ground before straightening your left knee and resuming a standing position. Repeat using the right leg, and try to complete about 3 to 5 reps on each side.
Building muscle doesn’t always mean bulk
Some people skip strength training altogether because they don’t want large, bulging arms and legs. But the truth is, it takes significant effort and specific exercises to gain that type of muscle mass. However, incorporating a simple strength-training move, such as the opposite arm/leg lift, can help you retain bone strength and raise your metabolism.
Give it a shot: Start from a kneeling position and place both hands on the ground in front of you. Your arms should be straight and your back should be parallel to the ground. Raise one arm off of the ground, holding it straight out in front of you, while extending the opposite leg behind you. Stretch your arm and leg in opposite directions and hold this position for 5 seconds. Return to your original position and repeat the move, alternating sides for 10 sets.
Kick up your cardio with sprints
Whether you’re on the treadmill or logging a few mile outdoors, adding a few sprints to your regular run will improve your cardio and has many other benefits, such as burning fat and building muscle.
Give it a shot: After you’ve warmed up, try sprinting for 10 to 30 seconds and then slow it down for about 30 seconds. The point is to go a bit faster than you would normally be able to for a longer period, but there’s no need to overdo it. Try to complete at least 3 to 5 sets during the first few workouts, but add more sets or increase your speed as you feel able.
If you’re already making it to the gym on a regular basis, adding a few moves like these will help you get the most out of your workout. If you want to focus more on a specific area, check in with one of the trainers at your gym for some additional targeted moves. Whichever workout you choose, just mix it up and keep hitting the gym.
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