For years, I focused on doing cardio exercise only, assuming that would help me to attain my weight loss and toning goals faster. I would sweat away on the stair-stepper, pedal as fast as I could on the spin bike, and power-walk on the treadmill day after day, hoping to fit into that gorgeous size eight dress for a big event.
The result: I squeezed myself into one of those shrink-your-stomach-instantly modern-day girdles, and then somehow got into the dress (I couldn’t eat or drink while I was wearing that outfit, but at least I attended the event!). In other words: cardio-only didn’t get me the results I wanted.
Does that scenario sound familiar? If you’re spending hours at the gym logging time on the cardio equipment but not getting the results you’re after, get the real skinny on how to tune up your workout to tone up your body:
- Divide up your time into three different categories: cardio, weights, and stretching.
- For the cardio interval, mix it up. For example, let’s say that you exercise for one hour for four days a week. Plan to do 30 minutes of cardio each time. One day, trot away on the treadmill. On your next workout, exercise on the elliptical. On the third day, step it up on the stair-stepper, and on day four, spin away on the spin bike.
- You’ve got 30 minutes left to go, and of those, plan for 20 minutes of weights. You may want to start with free weights, and ask a personal fitness trainer for instruction (most gyms offer a few free sessions with a trainer to get you started, so take advantage of them!). Alternatively, see if your gym has a class such as Body Sculpt or Power. Like the machines? Seek a routine that uses different machines and includes different parts of the body. Devote one day to upper body, one day to lower body, one day to abs and core, and one day to a mix-and-match routine that keeps you moving.
- Now: 10 minutes of stretching! Gently stretch every part of your body, from hamstrings to arms to your neck. Taking time for stretching will keep you flexible and limber.
Try out the No-Gym Routine
For a break from the gym, try the great outdoors and/or the comfort of your home. Walking, jogging, swimming, hiking, biking: these are all great forms of cardio that can be done outside the gym.
For weights and stretching, invest in an inexpensive fitness DVD. You can even see if your local library has ones that you can check out for free.
For example: I recently tried out a new fitness DVD, Exhale: Core Fusion Lean and Toned. This energizing workout DVD takes you through a series of exercises that are fun to follow, yet get results (I definitely had that feeling of having worked out hard afterwards!). You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how fast the time goes – and how fast you get results.
Improving your bottom line: remember to focus on the power of three when it comes to fitness that gets real results: cardio, weights, and stretching!