Summary: Keep Fit Junkies, are you bringing variety into your weekly workout routine? Or are you doing the same exercises day in, day out and now finding the whole experience very mundane? If yes, this article, first published on Everyday Health, offers a number of great alternatives to help you spice up your routine and get you trying something new!
Even if you love to exercise, doing the same routine week in and week out can get a bit boring. In fact, a study at the University of Florida found that performing the same exercises repetitiously increases your chances of giving up — but as workouts are varied, gym rats become even more motivated. To help keep you on track, it’s a good idea to change something about your exercise routine every four to six weeks to avoid boredom and a weight loss plateau, says Gregory Florez, a certified personal trainer in Salt Lake City and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). “Almost every time we see clients hit a weight loss plateau, it’s because they’re not varying their exercise routines enough.”
If your workouts are getting a little tired, try these exercise alternatives to bump up your calorie burn.
Swap Mat Pilates for Reformer
Pilates performed on a mat improves your balance, coordination, strength, and flexibility. It also can help reduce stress as you concentrate on proper breathing and focus on your body’s movements. But when you need more of a challenge, switch to a Pilates Reformer, a piece of equipment that looks like a bed frame with pulleys. With the Reformer, you’ll be better able to work out some of those core muscles that are hard to isolate for better, faster results. “The Reformer helps you do the exercises correctly,” Florez says. Also, when you add weights to the Reformer bands, you’ll up your calorie burn for a more intense — and effective — workout.
Swap Zumba for Barre
Some Zumba fanatics just can’t get enough of the high-energy dance routines. But if you’re looking for another dance-based workout to add to your rotation, try a barre or ballet fitness class. Barre classes tend to involve more strengthening moves than cardio and the targeting of muscles in hard-to-reach places such as your butt, thighs, and triceps ensure you’ll walk away with a great workout.
Swap Cycling for Spinning
If regular cycling has become dull, step up to spinning. Spinning has become increasingly popular with good reason: It’s a great cardiovascular exercise routine that doesn’t stress your joints. You burn calories fast — a 130-pound woman can torch about 310 calories in one 45-minute spin class. Many gyms now offer classes in which you hop on and off a stationary bike to do some strength training exercises in between hill climbs. “With combo spinning, you can bundle everything you need in one class,” Florez says. “They’re very efficient and much less intimidating than a regular spin class.” Strength training helps tone your muscles and improve your balance and coordination.
Swap Weight Machines for TRX
If you’re trying to lose weight or just stay in shape, strength training should be an essential part of your routine. To shake up your typical weight-training schedule, try a TRX suspension machine. “They’re the hottest things in gyms,” Florez says. With a TRX exercise routine, you can tone your whole body without lifting any weights. The machine’s nylon straps provide two forms of resistance — from your body weight and from gravity. Adds Florez, “After 30 minutes, you’ll look at your watch and say, ‘I can’t believe I just did that.’”
Swap Hand Weights for Kettlebells
Kettlebells, which date back to Russia in the 1700s, have seen resurgence as a replacement for free weights in recent years. With good reason — a study by ACE found that people who did a kettlebell exercise routine were burning around 20 calories a minute, the caloric equivalent of running a 6-minute mile. Spend just 20 minutes working out with kettlebells, and you’ll strengthen your muscles, improve your cardiovascular fitness, and increase your balance and flexibility.
Swap Walking for Walking With Poles
Brisk walking is a great aerobic exercise — you don’t need special equipment, and you can do it almost anywhere. There are also simple tricks you can try to up your calorie burn and prevent boredom with your walking routes. Grab a pair of ski poles and turn your walk into a variation of cross-country skiing. Your arms will get a great workout, and you’ll burn more calories. “You can also walk from one streetlight to the next at your usual brisk pace,” Florez says. “Then walk even faster until you reach the next streetlight. Next do your usual pace again. This kind of interval training can enhance your calorie burn.”
Swap Cardio Machines for Boot Camp
If you’re short on time, but still want a calorie-blasting sweat session, find a fitness centre that offers boot camp. Boot camp classes will encourage you to push yourself a little harder. A typical class might include sprints, jump rope, push-ups, and plyometrics — jumps and other leaps. Boot camp classes can be intense and may not be suited for people with certain health issues. But for those who are in shape, it can kick your exercise intensity up a notch to help you conquer a weight loss plateau or complacency with your current exercise routine.
Swap Yoga for Power Yoga
As with all exercise routines, yoga has many health benefits, including improved muscle strength, balance, and flexibility. But if you’re getting tired of the same old downward-facing dog, try a power yoga class. A little more vigorous than most traditional yoga classes, power yoga emphasises yoga poses that contract and expand the muscles in your waist and chest to strengthen your core. Some power yoga classes include strength training exercises such as push-ups. “Even if you’re not a class person, you might surprise yourself and find you like some of these new formats,” Florez says.
Swap Running for Elliptical
Running is a terrific cardiovascular exercise, but your joints can take a pounding as you hit the ground, and after a few weeks on the same course, you can get bored pretty easily. To tone your legs without the strain on your joints, spend 30 to 45 minutes on an elliptical trainer. For devoted runners, a spin on an elliptical once or twice a week can help your body recover from the stress of long runs. Also, switching to an elliptical at the gym during winter months in particular solves the issue of uncooperative weather.
Swap Walking for Hiking
Up the intensity of your walking routine by hitting a hiking trail, says K.C. Wilder, PhD, a sport and exercise psychologist in Bucks County, Pa. When you go for a hike, you explore new territory, and if your hike includes hills, it can be a more rigorous cardiovascular workout than a brisk walk. Depending on your weight and the distance you cover, hiking will burn about 370 calories an hour, compared to about 150 calories burned on an hour-long flat walk. For an extra boost of motivation, grab a group to hit the trail with you — a 2005 study in the Journal of the Academy of Physician Assistants found that exercising with a partner is more likely to keep dieters on track.
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