My gym routine has gotten a little staid. I do a couple dynamic & static stretches, go for a pretty relaxed run on a baby incline after warming up, maybe do a core workout. When I get into the gym more than 3 days a week, I’ll do some strength training focusing on my butt, legs, and core (maybe a couple arm moves and that’s if I don’t opt for the extra hour and a half of sleep). Then I finish off with some more static stretching. Now, I know I might be better than most but I am still a far cry from what an amazing day in the gym SHOULD look like- and I’ve also changed up my routine from what it used to look like a few years ago.
Here’s what an ideal day (or two days if there is no time for both cardio and strength training) should look like:
Warm up FIRST. Don’t rush right into it- that’s why you get injured. Walk briskly or do whatever you plan on doing slowly at first to get your muscles activated. Even if you’re just doing strength training, hop on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes.
THEN do some dynamic stretches- walking lunges, arm swings, running butt kicks, power skips. This gives muscles an extra power boost, helps prevent injury and reaps flexibility benefits.
Cardio- Let’s be real, doing a relaxed run is fine if you’re training for a race. If you’re going that route, ALWAYS crank up the incline because, as we know, flat roads do not exist in the outdoors where you will most likely be racing. If you are NOT training for a race, try an interval run with sprints and some walking recovery. You can start slow- 3 minutes running and 3 minutes walking or 1 minute sprinting, 1 minute walking, 1 minute jogging, or you can try this run that has literally made me almost die on several occasions. But I just take that as a sign it’s working. And if you’re new to running, start small! Even if you run a short distance and walk farther, that’s better than hopping off and giving up.
Other cardio options- Can we be real and ban the elliptical? It’s fine if you have a back injury, but any exercise you can do while also reading a book is not going to burn the calories you need to burn. If you must use an elliptical, at least don’t hold the handles! If you’re hands-free, you challenge your body slightly more. Same with biking- unless you’re doing an intense spin class, those sit-down bikes that literally look like wheelchairs with pedals, are doing you NO favors. If you don’t want to run, take a fun class (maybe try Zumba or one of the other dance-cardio classes that are sweeping the nation) or hop on the row machine (take a class first to really get the hang of it- CityRow in NYC is a great one but there are studios around the country) or the StairMaster. The bottom line is- instead of dreading your workout, have fun with it!! Just because you don’t hate the exercise, doesn’t mean it’s not challenging. And it’ll keep you coming back for more!
Strength-training- I like to do routines I find in fitness magazines or blogs, but if you’re just throwing in some basic moves, here is where you should start. For your core, stop doing crunches and do planks. If you’re short on time, a minute holding a plank will work your whole core. If you can also add in v-ups, Russian twists, flutter kicks, bicycle kicks, and side planks, even better! Skip the machines and pick up free weights- either for your arms or while you do other exercises like squats (instead of sitting down doing leg presses-what an oxymoron!). Compound moves like that work multiple muscle groups so are great for multitasking, e.g. pull-ups (start small with assisted pull-ups) vs. bicep curls.
At the end of it all, partake in some static stretching. But ALSO get the knots out using a foam roller. That will really help you massage out those kinked up muscles from your awesome work-out! And don’t just go home and pop some ibuprofen and a protein bar- drink a class of cherry juice if needed (the natural muscle medicine!) and eat a homemade post-workout snack or meal. Most protein bars have too much sugar in them so read your labels!
My biggest challenge though is GETTING to the gym- and I’m sure many of you feel the same way. But I know that going to the gym instead of sleeping will keep me more alert at work later in the day. It gives me a huge energy boost and keeps my calorie-burning engine fired up all day long. Working out with a buddy (remember that tip!?) instead of going it alone will also help with this.
Now if you still feel like you’re just guessing at all of this, maybe work with a personal trainer a few times to get a feel for what you need to concentrate on. Many gyms provide them or you can look for a Groupon to cut the cost. Not only will they teach you proper form, but they can push you through sets when you’re ready to give up.
There are also so many ways to keep burning calories throughout the day- these tips make me feel better if I have to skip the gym and make me feel even BETTER if I also have gone to the gym that day!
- At the office, try to get your hands on a standing desk or exercise ball to swap for your office chair. Unfortunately, at my current job, that’s not an option but I have had both options at other jobs and it’s great! It feels so much better than sitting all day and it helps with your balance while working your abs.
- If your boyfriend (or you!) is a video game fanatic, why don’t you try swapping in some Wii games or other games that incorporate exercise? The Just Dance games are my favorite and really do work up a sweat!
- If stairs are an option take them! I trek up and down the 4 flights of stairs in my office building (unless I’m wearing really high heels).
- Instead of doing dinner and a movie for EVERY date night, switch it up! Go hiking, go ice-skating, check out a trampoline park!
- Unless you have a handicapped sticker on your car, park farther away. You do not NEED to get a spot right up front.
Alright guys, incorporate some of these tips into your next gym session and see how much of a difference it makes after a couple of weeks! Let me know your gym routine in the comments!
Yesterday’s Food Journal
Pre-Soul Cycle Clif bar & coffee
Breakfast- I had a nice little solo brunch at Buvette in the West Village. I had two Americanos, 2 mini croissants with butter and jam, and then their steamed eggs with prosciutto on toast. It was THE BEST.
Early airport dinner- an $11 chicken quesadilla that was really half of one (one tortilla folded over). I hate eating in airports.
Almonds when I finally boarded the plane after my 3 hour delay. And then the 2 Biscoff cookies they offered.