Take Your Workout to the Next Level

When was the last time you challenged your exercise routine or toning exercises? Chances are you stay within your comfort zone, doing the same workout and/or classes at a low to moderate intensity level.

“That isn’t good,” says Myriam Charleston, SIGNATURE BRIDE’s official trainer. “After a while you could become bored with the class, and that leads to not going. You need to challenge your body every six to eight weeks. If you are doing the same routine at the same level all the time, your body conditions itself to stop working hard. Basically, it plateaus, and you won’t see results.”

What to do? Challenge yourself to perform more advanced workout routines. Read on for ways to transform your favorite workouts into more challenging ones you will enjoy.

Spinning: Besides being a great form of aerobic activity (burning between 400-600 calories in 40 minutes), spinning strengthens the lower body, as it tones the quadriceps and hamstrings, and works the back and hips. The goal is to reach your target heart rate and target cadence. Because of that, it can be difficult to stay at a moderate level in a class that is geared toward more intensity. For more benefit, invest in a pair of spin shoes with a Velcro strap. The spin shoe becomes part of your body and allows for a full circle stroke, which enables you to use your muscles more.

Yoga: There are a few things you can do to take your yoga to the next level. One of the best ways is to add fitness moves — push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, squats — from your yoga position. For example, from a warrior’s position, you can move in and out of the pose into a lunge. You also want to change your workout program every so often so you challenge  your body and mind. Challenge yourself by trying advanced moves or poses. And don’t forget about your breathing. It mentally allows you to focus; it’s really good practice because you are able to find yourself flowing pose to pose, not struggling too much.

Walking: We were born to walk. Walking one hour a week at any pace reduces the risk of coronary artery disease. Longer and more vigorous walking produces a greater risk reduction. Brisk walking (3.5 to 4 miles per hour) burns nearly as many calories as running a mile at a moderate pace. Even strolling or slow walking (about 2 miles per hour) offers some benefits.

To get more out of your walking workout, walk briskly for at least half an hour every day, or one hour four times a week. If you can’t get that in at one time, break it down to smaller, more frequent walks. Always wear a heart rate monitor to make sure you are hitting your target heart rate and a pedometer to track your steps; the goal is 10,000 steps a day.

Try to walk as much as possible — skip elevators and escalators and take the stairs, park the car further away and walk. Instead of taking longer steps, take faster steps and add some interval training by speeding up for 2 minutes every 5 minutes. Also, challenge yourself with a varied terrain. Walking on sand or grass burns more calories than walking on a track. And if possible, add uphill and downhill climbs. For a real challenge, try walking backward, or “retro” walking. It’s challenging and requires balance and coordination. Even a slow pace will give you a great workout.

Weights: Lifting weights not only burns fat, it shapes and tones your body. Weight training is a toning exercise that uses weights for resistance. It challenges your muscles by forcing them to adapt to the stress of the weights. Research shows that a single set of 12 repetitions with the proper weight can build muscle just as efficiently as doing three sets of the same exercise. To avoid plateaus, increase intensity on a regular basis by increasing the amount of weight you are lifting, changing the exercise and type of resistance.