Staying committed to an exercise program is no easy task. Work, friends, loved ones, illness, holidays and the weather can all work against you. Don’t forget burnouts, injury and simply getting bored with your workout.
Here are some suggestions to keep your routine fresh, fun and effective. I’ve incorporated all of these exercises into my workouts and noticed the results. These tips range from traditional exercises to Yoga and Pilates postures.
Crunch, crunch, leg lift, leg lift and repeat; does this sound like your abdominal routine? If so you need to spice up your ab workout. Your body will adapt to your existing workout, to see continued gains, you need to shake things up.
- Flat Bench Abdominal Leg Pull Ins - The flat abdominal leg pull in is a Pilates based abdominal exercise. It works your abs and the surrounding stabilizing muscles. Take this exercise to the next level by rotating your body 90 degrees (your body and the bench form a +). Lie flat, or as flat as your can, for 60 seconds, then proceed to do 20 leg pull ins. These are pretty challenging and your abs will burn, but you'll thank me for this tip later. Remember, you can always modify this for beginners. Hold the prone position for 10, 20, or 30 seconds, then do 5 or 10 abdominal leg pull ins. If you ever feel discomfort, stop your exercise and take a break. If you have a weak lower back, place your hands under the small of your lower back for support.
- Chest Lift With Rotation - Chest lift with rotation is my new favorite crunch and is the real deal. You can take this exercise to the extremes by increasing the number of lifts. Everyone should be able to get a great workout with this one. An example of the chest lift with rotation is available here.
- Swimming - If you have access to a pool, you should take advantage of it. Swimming is a phenomenal exercise that works your whole body, improves cardiovascular conditioning, endurance, muscle strength posture, and flexibility all at the same time. It's also the easiest workout on your body and joints. What if swimming laps isn't fun enough for you? Try diving; but please take swimming and diving lessons if you haven’t done this before.
- Sprint Intervals - Running is definitely a popular activity. The treadmills at my gym are always crowded and I see many people jogging along the rivers in NYC. However the majority of people who run avoid sprint intervals. Interval training stimulates fat loss, reduces stress and increases your metabolic rate. Simply run at a sprint speed for a minute (8 to 8.5 mph on your treadmill) then slow down to a jog for a minute (about a 6.0 mph). Do this about 5-6 times as a part of your regular running routine (which should be a minimum of 24 minutes).
- Yoga Inversions - Inverted Yoga poses allow gravity to work for you. While in an inverted position, your spine elongates, which relieves pressure on the discs. Benefits include reduced back pain, improved posture and correct body alignment. Make sure you practice these poses on a soft surface. No one likes falling from a hand-stand onto a hard floor. In addition, inverted poses will work your entire body's stabilizing muscles.
Keep It Fresh! Use one or all of these exercises the next time you go to the gym. You need to keep your workout fresh to see continued gains and to avoid burnouts.
Written by Gregory Schnese, the Web Producer at beYOU.tv.