Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mix 'er up!

Well, hello there! It's been a long while since I've blogged. Yeesh.

It has been a crazy winter in New York City. One day it's snowing 19 inches and the next, it's 62 degrees outside. This January and February I've been varying my workouts based on the lovely daily weather mood swings. For the past 2 winters, I've had a Half-Marathon to train for. This year, I decided not to take on the challenge. I think I chose wisely because instead of feeling a ton of pressure to follow a running schedule, I've allowed myself to explore new classes at the gym and vary my workout a bit more than I've been used to. I've been taking cardio kickboxing at the 14th Street Y and yoga at Yoga to the People, creating and exploring new workout plans of my own, and testing my Exercise on Demand via Time Warner Cable on days when it was nearly impossible to travel anywhere. There were a couple of days when I was lucky enough to take myself outside for a jog and instead of it feeling like an obligation like it did for the past couple years, it felt like a treat. A treat because either the roads/paths were clear enough or the weather was warmer and I just couldn't resist. When I went on these jogs, they felt like more of a struggle than they had a month or so beforehand when I had been running every other day.
That's what's great about varying your workout. When you take a break from something that your body has gotten used to, coming back to it is more difficult and your muscles, lungs, and heart are tested again. It feels like I'm really getting something out of my hard work, which I love. Always switching up your workout is the best way to see results and to keep yourself from plateauing. Here are simple ways you can vary your own workout and see results more quickly:

  • On the treadmill, elliptical, or bike, always chose a program that varies in speed and resistance. You can choose programs labeled random, hills, or interval. This will ensure that you are testing your body and making your heart, lungs, and muscles work harder than if you stayed at the same speed and resistance. You'll also get a better workout in less time at the gym. That rocks.

  • Use free weights instead of machines.

  • Try balancing on one leg when doing standing weighted exercises. You'll test and work your stability and core muscles as well as the muscle group you are lifting for. This will help you to burn more calories and build more lean muscle all over your body.

  • Take your chest press or skull crushers off the bench and onto the stability ball. Sit on the ball and walk your feet out until you're lying on the stability ball with your head, neck and shoulders supported by the ball. Here, you'll not only be working your chest or triceps, but your legs, glutes, and abs too, because you have to balance yourself and keep from falling off the ball. Try sitting or lying on the ball for almost any exercise for great core activation.

  • Add 60-90 seconds of jumping jacks, jump rope, jogging in place, or plyometrics in-between sets of weighted exercises.

  • Add a 30-60 second high intensity burst during your cardio workouts. For example, if you're jogging, sprint as fast as you can for 30-60 seconds 2-4 times during your jog.

Be Well!