6 Small Fitness Tweaks That Add Up to Big Results for Your Body
These tiny moves can make a big difference to your success on the scale or in the gym.
â€œGive it your all!â€ Weâ€™ve all heard that phrase once or twice, right? But how do you know whether youâ€™re really giving it your all when it comes to working out?
The truth is, your version of 100% will vary each day depending on how you feel, how much sleep youâ€™ve had, what youâ€™ve eaten that day, and several other factors. That said, no matter how you're feeling on any particular day, you'll see way more progress if you try to think "Let me give just a little bit more" each time you set foot in the gym. In fact, that extra 10% can make all the difference when it comes to hitting your health and fitness goals. We all get comfortable in our routines, and sometimes that little nudge can take us from a plateau to results in no time!
Whether youâ€™re on the elliptical, lifting weights, or even fueling up in the kitchen, here are some tried and true tips to get you giving just a little bit more in each of your attempts to reach your physical goals.
In the weight room
Do drop sets. During your last set of an exercise, pick up a weight with which you can do no more than 8-10 repetitions. It should feel pretty heavy, but you should be able to complete all your reps with good form. Once youâ€™ve completed your reps at that weight, grab a weight that is about â…“ less than what you were using, and pump out 10-12 more reps. This "drop set" will allow you to push beyond what you were able to achieve with the higher weight, just when you thought you couldn't eke out any more reps.
Go negative. There are two basic movements associated with any exercise: the concentric (or â€œsqueezeâ€) and eccentric (or â€œreleaseâ€) movements. To perform a negative, extend the release of your movement by 3-5 seconds. This slow release from the movement will force your muscles to work harder since the time under tension is longer than in a regular repetition. For example, when performing a bicep curl, curl the weight up at a normal pace, then count to 5 as you release your arm back to the starting position instead of just dropping it back down.
Incorporate sprints. There are several ways to do this, but an easy one to remember is â€œevery minute on the minuteâ€. Every minute, youâ€™ll sprint in an all-out effort for 10-20 seconds. As it becomes easier, you can extend the length of the sprint. You can do this on any piece of cardio equipment, including the treadmill, recumbent bike, and elliptical machine.
Try a "higher-faster". To do this, youâ€™ll change up either your intensity (incline on a treadmill, or level on a stair mill, bike, or elliptical) or your speed every 5 minutes during your workout. Letâ€™s say youâ€™re walking on a treadmill at 3.0 mph with a 5% incline. When 5 minutes is up, increase your speed to 3.2mph. When youâ€™ve completed 10 minutes, increase your incline to 7%. You can pick and choose how often and how much you change your settings, but switching them up regularly ensures that youâ€™ll continuously work harder as your cardio session goes on.
In the kitchen
Snack smarter. Portion out your snacks by serving size in sealable plastic bags as soon as you buy them. By doing this, youâ€™ll reduce your chances of mindless munching and make sure you always know exactly how much youâ€™re putting in your mouth.
Measure your food. Many people eyeball when theyâ€™re cooking and donâ€™t realize how much of an ingredient theyâ€™re actually using. If a recipe calls for a tablespoon of olive oil, actually fill a tablespoon with oil instead of just glugging some into the pan. Youâ€™ll be surprised when you see how big (or, rather, how small) a serving REALLY is.
Want more tips like this? Check out The Pros and Cons of Running on the Treadmill
Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, entrepreneur, and best-selling author of the new book, Strong is the New Skinny. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CWâ€™s Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBCâ€™s Today Show, Extra, The Doctors, and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer onÂ Facebook, Twitter, G+ and on Pinterest.