50 must-know fitness tips for your best body ever (Pt 1)
Monday, January 27, 2014
Copyright © 2014 Weider Publications, LLC, a subsidiary of American Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
1. Stick to it for 2 weeks
Say hello to your checklist for a hotter you. Follow these fun, practical strategies, and the results you’ve been after are in the bag!
If motivation is your hang-up, change your exercise routine every 14 days. A University of Florida study discovered that people who modified their workouts twice a month were more likely than to stick to their plans compared to those who changed their regimens whenever they wanted to. Boredom didn’t appear to be a factor; it seems people simply enjoyed the variety more.
2. Bring up your rear
For a strong backside that will turn heads wherever you go, Montenegro recommends completing 100 kettlebell swings nonstop with a moderate weight at the end of a legs workout. If you can’t access a kettlebell, do deadlifts and hip-thrusters instead. “Women tend to overemphasize the quadriceps even when they think they are working the butt. With these two exercises, you'll have no problem engaging the glutes and posterior muscles of the legs,” Montenegro says.
3. Never skip the most important meal
For once we're not talking about breakfast but rather the recovery meal after your workout. “So many women skip post-exercise nutrition because they don’t want to 'undo the calories they just burned,'” says Amanda Carlson-Phillips, vice president of nutrition and research for Athletes’ Performance and Core Performance. “But getting a combination of 10 to 15 grams of protein and 20 to 30 grams of carbohydrates within 30 minutes of your workout will help to refuel your body, promote muscle recovery, amp up your energy and build a leaner physique.”
4. Mind your muscle
It's easy to get lost in a killer playlist or Friends rerun on the TV attached to the elliptical, but mindless exercise makes all your hard work forgettable—and you can forget about seeing results too. “There is a huge difference between going through the motions of an exercise and truly thinking, feeling and engaging the key muscles,” says Kira Stokes, master instructor at the New York City location of indoor cycling studio Revolve. “Be conscious of and enjoy the sensation of your muscles contracting and the feelings of growing stronger and more powerful with each rep.”
5. Be less specific
Just like trying to find a guy who meets certain exact standards, trying to reach an exact weight is a lofty—and often unattainable—goal. Having a range, such as losing five to 10 pounds, may lead to a more successful outcome than if you aim to lose precisely 8 pounds in four weeks, according to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research. Flexible goals seem more feasible, which in turn boosts your sense of accomplishment, encouraging you to stay driven, the study authors say.
6. Step it up
Instinct may tell you to slow down when running in wintery conditions, but the secret to not slipping is actually to speed up and shorten your stride. Aim to have each foot strike the ground 90 times per minute, Chiplin says. This high cadence helps ensure that each foot lands beneath the center of your weight rather than ahead of it, which can throw off your balance on slick terrain.
7. Hang tight
Not being able to do a pull-up doesn’t mean you shouldn’t step up to the bar. Simply hanging on for as long as possible can improve your upper-body strength, says Marta Montenegro, a Miami-based exercise physiologist and strength and conditioning coach. Concentrate on keeping your body as still as possible, and you’ll naturally recruit your abs, hips and lower back in addition to your arms, she explains, or slowly move your legs in circles or up and down to further engage your abs.
8. Not so fast
Before you start a juice cleanse diet, know that drastically restricting your caloric intake to drop pounds may backfire: In a 2010 study, women placed on a 1,200-calorie diet for three weeks had increased levels of cortisol, our primary stress hormone. Chronic stress has been associated with an increased risk of weight gain as well as coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and impaired immune functioning.
9. Bust out your bikini
Packing away your two-piece for winter means you won't think about how you'll look in it until about April. Avoid any potential “how did my butt get this big?!” panics come spring by keeping your swimsuit handy and putting it on every so often to make sure you like what you see, says Tanya Becker, co-founder of the Physique 57 barre program. You can also toss it on when you think you’re going to overindulge. “There’s no better way to keep yourself from having that after-dinner cookie or slice of cake,” she adds.
10. Pep up your run
Sweet chili peppers may not be a winter food, but continue eating them in your burritos, stir-fries and soups, and you may burn more fat during your outdoor cold-weather runs. These not-hot veggies contain chemicals called capsinoids, which are similar to the capsaicin found in hot peppers. Combine capsinoids with 63-degree or cooler temps, and you increase the amount and activity of brown fat cells—those that burn energy—and give your metabolism an extra boost, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
11. Never do the same workout
“The reason most people don't see changes isn't because they don't work hard—it's because they don't make their workouts harder,” says Adam Bornstein, founder of Born Fitness. His suggestion: Create a challenge every time you exercise. “Use a little more weight, rest five to 10 seconds fewer between sets, add a few more reps, or do another set. Incorporating these small variations into your routine is a recipe for change,” he says.
12. Freshen your breath and your muscles
Consider including peppermint in your pre-workout snack or drink. In a small study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, men drank 2 cups water with 0.05 milliliters (basically, a drop) of peppermint oil mixed in, and then ran on a treadmill to test their stamina and power. The mint appeared to help relax muscles, boost oxygen to muscles and the brain, and elevate pain threshold, leading to improved overall performance.
13. Go 2-for-1
When you do high-intensity interval training (and if you’re not, you should be!), follow a 2:1 work-to-rest ratio, such as sprinting one minute followed by 30 seconds of recovery. According to several studies, the most recent out of Bowling Green State University, this formula maximizes your workout results. The BGSU researchers also say to trust your body: Participants in the study set their pace for both running and recovery according to how they felt, and by doing so women worked at a higher percentage of their maximum heart rate and maximum oxygen consumption than the men did.
14. Be true to form
It doesn't matter how many pushups you can do in a minute if you're not doing a single one correctly. “There is no point in performing any exercise without proper form,” says Stokes, who recommends thinking in terms of progression: Perfect your technique, then later add weight and/or speed. This is especially important if your workout calls for performing “as many reps as possible” during a set amount of time. Choose quality over quantity, and you can stay injury-free.
15. One day at a time
Long-term goals are imperative, but they can make you feel overwhelmed or discouraged at times. Instead of thinking about how many dress sizes smaller you want to be in four months, focus on small everyday victories, Snader suggests. “For example, today you are going to eat breakfast, fit in a workout and drink more water,” he says. Stay focused on the present, and your future will be successful.
16. Find a fit friend
A workout partner not only keeps you accountable, she also may help you clock more time at the gym and torch more fat. A British survey of 1,000 women found that those who exercise with others tend to train six minutes longer and burn an extra 41 calories per session compared to solo fitness fanatics. Those who buddy up said they push themselves harder and are more motivated than when they hit the gym alone.
17. Dig deeper
It takes a lot of discipline to turn down a cupcake or roll out of your warm bed for a cold morning run. To make staying on track easier, it's important to make a real connection with your motivation, says Tara Gidus, R.D., co-host of Emotional Mojo. So think less about fitting into your skinny jeans or spring break bikini and more about emotional ties to the people you love. “Your relationships will grow stronger when you are physically healthy and taking care of yourself,” she says.
18. Learn the ropes
The best training tool you're not using: a jump rope. “It may seem a little juvenile until you think of all the hot-bodied boxing pros who jump rope every single day,” says Landon LaRue, a CrossFit level-one trainer at Reebok CrossFit LAB in L.A. Not only is it inexpensive, portable and easy to use almost anywhere, you’ll burn about 200 calories in 20 minutes and boost your cardiovascular health while toning, he adds.
19. Heed your hunger
Give your body a little more credit: It tells you when you’re hungry—you may not be listening, though. Before chowing down because there’s only one slice of pie left or because the last guest arrived at the brunch, stop and check in with your stomach. “If you’re not hungry, make yourself a small plate and sip on some tea or coffee while everyone else digs in,” recommends Elle Penner, M.P.H., R.D., a MyFitnessPal expert. When your belly starts to finally grumble, food will be there
20. Take it outside
A study by the National Institutes of Health that found people could burn up to 7 percent more calories in the cold. So if you're torching 268 calories during a half-hour indoor run at a 12-minute-mile pace, you may hoof off closer to 300 calories if you head outdoors.
21. Ace your serving sizes
When dishing out dinner, put away the measuring cups and grab a standard size plate. “If your food fits with no individual item touching another, you can be pretty confident that your portion sizes are appropriate,” says Michael Snader, BodyAware specialist and nutritionist at The BodyHoliday, a health and wellness resort in St. Lucia.
22. Memorize a mantra
Whatever you tell yourself to get through a grueling workout, don't stop. An innovative European study found that motivational self-talk can significantly help reduce the rate of perceived exertion (how loud your muscles are screaming) so you can go further for longer.
Popular belief says if you really want to make a big change, focus on one new healthy habit at a time. But Stanford University School of Medicine researchers say working on your diet and fitness simultaneously may put the odds of reaching both goals more in your favor. They followed four groups of people: The first zoned in on their diets before adding exercise months later, the second did the opposite, the third focused on both at once, and the last made no changes. Those who doubled up were most likely to work out 150 minutes a week and get up to nine servings of fruits and veggies daily while keeping their calories from saturated fat at 10 percent or less of their total intake.
24. Sweat to a beat of your own
Rocking out to your fave playlist helps you power through a grueling workout, and now research shows singing, humming or whistling may be just as beneficial. A German and Belgian study found that making music—and not just listening to it—could impact exercise performance. People who worked out on machines designed to create music based on their efforts exerted more energy (and didn't even know it) compared to others who used traditional equipment. Sweating to your own tune may help make physical activities less exhausting, researchers say.
25. Heart your trainer
“Find an instructor who motivates you to get out the door or turn on a video—they will be your best advocate,” Becker says. If you look forward to seeing your favorite Pilates teacher, you'll be more likely to hit the studio regularly. Same goes if you love a trainer's energy in their DVD or online videos.