Going to the gym is hard enough, but who would go to the gym if there weren’t any benefits to gain? By wasting precious time doing exercises that have little to no benefit, that is essentially what many people are doing. Here are a few examples of moves to avoid in order to maximize your time at the gym, and a few suggestions on what to do instead to feel the burn EFFICIENTLY and get the most burn for your time.**
The Stationary Bike
You know the one: the bike where you sit back in a semi-chill position and pedal lackadaisically for 20 or 30 minutes, then wonder why you barely broke a sweat. Instead of spending precious time on something that isn’t burning quality calories, try a spin class, which engages your full legs, core and even arms as you workout. Don’t have one at your gym?
Try this: Bike Sprint Intervals. On a standard stationary bike, warm up for 2 minutes at level 3 with a moderate pace. Next, begin alternating intervals. High-intensity interval is your max speed for 30 seconds at level 12 (or whatever you can handle). Next is your low-intensity interval at a moderate speed for 30 seconds at level 3. Repeat until you reach 15 minutes.
Now wait, before you go quoting some article or study, I don’t mean the treadmill in general. I mean those that use the treadmill at a low to moderate pace, simply walking when they are perfectly capable of swift running or even interval sprints. Even if you have knee problems, raising the incline level can add extra burn to a moderate-paced workout.
Try this: Go for 30 mins at 3.6 mph (or faster, if you can manage), with the incline at 10. You’ll earn a good sweat and engage your glutes and hamstrings at a whole new level.
How many crunches does it take to earn a six-pack? Here’s a hint: more than you will ever have time for. Stop wasting time doing hundreds of crunches and engage your entire core with more comprehensive exercises such as planking, leg raises and V-ups. Also, high-intensity exercises such as high-knees and mountain climbers activate the core while adding in a cardio element to burn extra fat.
Try this: Alternate every minute, 50 seconds work, 10 seconds rest then switch moves. Perform the following 4 moves:
- Mountain climbers
- Planks with alternating elbows up and down
- Russian Twists
- Repeat all 3 times for a total of 12 minutes
Yes, some people actually do these. They might say “Oh, I’m activating my hips,” or something equally silly. The truth is, you should be doing full squats, known in the fitness world as “ass-to-grass,” in order to get the full benefit of the squat exercise. Not everyone is able to start off with the full range of motion and that is fine. Start by going at least parallel to the floor and then work up to the full range by doing box squats. This is where a low box, or similar object is placed behind you while you do the squats to ensure you get as low as possible. As you squat, you actually sit down on the box (for just a second) and immediately get back up. This allows you to go all the way down, without fear of falling backwards or injuring your knees.
Try this: 4 sets of 10 box squats at a moderate weight. It should be heavy enough to feel the burn, but not so heavy that you can’t complete all 4 sets. Remember to use the box behind you to steady yourself and get that full range of motion in.
Need a great time-saving workout? Check out my Full Body Bleachers Circuit Workout! It gets your whole body together in one workout, and can be done practically anywhere that has stairs.
**Remember to consult your physician before beginning any fitness routine or program.
Photo credits: Creative Commons’ Fitness Center at Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach Hotel by Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach Hotel, licensed under CC BY 2.0