Lisa Reed, special to wtop.com
WASHINGTON - Increasing the intensity of your workout burns more fat and builds muscle.
According to a recent article in the American College of Sports Medicine's Health and Fitness Journal, working out at a high-intensity delivers the benefits of endurance training in a shorter amount of time.
But if you're stuck in a rut, don't worry. When it comes to taking your workout up to the next level, there are a few simple steps you can take.
- Get a workout buddy. Having a motivating exercise partner can help
increase the chance that
you will reach your fitness goals. Just like having a personal trainer can provide
motivation, monitor your progress, add variety and make exercising more fun,
having a workout buddy can
increase the likelihood that you will stick with your routine. A workout buddy
will also keep you on track,
make you more accountable and have you planning your workouts in advance. If your
workout buddy can
only train on certain days, try to find more than one. And if you find one who is
slightly more advanced,
don't sweat it -- they will definitely increase the intensity of your workout.
- Combine strength and cardio and circuit train. By adding a cardio
interval -- such as jumping
jacks, jump rope or sprints between strength-resistance exercises -- targeting a
different muscle group will
rev-up the metabolism and keep the heart rate elevated. Because the exercise
switches between muscle
groups, no rest is needed between the strength exercises. This approach burns more
calories during the
workout and for an extended time afterwards. It also builds muscle and elevates
- Go to failure. When you complete your desired number of repetitions and
find your muscles can't complete any more, try doing another one with the
assistance of a spotter for a "forced rep." Lifting to failure does not mean you
should lift the last few times with incorrect or wobbly form. Maintain proper form
and rely on the spotter for extra support.
- Go for the hills. Add an incline to the treadmill or find a
neighborhood with hills. Even adding
a 2 percent incline will make you work harder, which in turn burns more calories.
Climbing hills also gets
your glutes ready for the beach. Researchers at the University of Georgia found
that uphill running activates
9 percent more muscle with each stride, compared with walking at the same
intensity on level ground. And
unlike regular walking, hill walking will get more oxygen flowing through your
body more quickly and help
you build more stamina. Hill walking is a great way to get our body into shape.
Unlike running, it does
not put a ton of stress on your
knees or feet. Make sure you warm-up properly and stretch after like any other
- Pre-exhaust The pre-exhaust method benefits single muscle group
isolation training. The
objective is to fatigue the muscle group you are targeting by single joint
exercises before moving to
compound movements for the same muscle.
Of course you should always warm-up properly. For example if you are doing a lower body workout, perform a few sets on leg extensions, leg curls and body weight squats before performing compound movements in your workout (i.e.: squats and leg presses.) By fatiguing the muscle, you can actually lift more and increase the weights.
- Do a Fartlek. Fartlek comes from the Swedish meaning "speed play," or
more generally, "slow
fast." It represents an interval-type of speed training that can be effective in
improving speed and
endurance. These type of workouts initiate fast or intense training interspersed
with periods of active
recovery. Fartleks can be performed cross-country or on a track. It's best to vary
your speed and terrain for
the benefits of using different energy systems. Visit my Facebook page for an example of a Fartlek
- Fuel your body right. As your workouts change up after a few weeks, you
might notice that
you feel more hungry than usual. The simple reason is because your metabolism has
increased with the
increased muscle. Remember, don't indulge in junk food to satisfy your hunger. You
have been putting in
the extra effort with your workouts, do not let it go to waste with poor
nutrition. Your muscles need healthy
food to keep you going. Fruit, vegetables, whole grains with lean protein sources
are vital for a healthy
lifestyle, for rest and recovery and energy for your next high intensity workout.
Your body will need some time to adjust to the new exercises you're putting it through, too, so make sure that you get all the rest you need. Train hard, but train smart. Listen to your body and get adequate rest and recovery.
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