As the weather warms up, it’s natural to want to lighten our lives – cleaning out cupboards and closets, shedding a few unwanted pounds, getting a shorter haircut, even paying taxes. Well your training program could probably also use a little spring cleaning by eliminating bad habits, old mindsets and ineffective exercise strategies. So read ahead to learn how to lighten your load, while still reaping rewards from your workouts.
Don’t Be a Slave to the Gym
Do you spend potential training time commuting to and from the gym? Why not do a couple of workouts from home? Purchase some free weights, for example, and you can strength train in the comfort of your home. Consider cycling, inline skating, running or powerwalking outdoors in your neighborhood rather than relying on the treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical machine at the gym. Finally, if it is increasing rather than reducing your stress just driving to yoga class, get a yoga dvd and perform your postures on your mat in a quiet spot at home.
Streamline your Program
Do you spend half of your training time strengthening your abdominals and/or stretching all your muscles and joints? While both are important components of fitness, they can and should be squeezed around the cornerstones of your program – cardio and strength training. For example, when weight training, try stretching in between weight sets instead of resting. Recent research suggest that stretching (i.e. lengthening) muscles after contracting (i.e. shortening) them with weights potentially increases your strength. Some studies also suggest that stretching between weight sets may reduce post-exercise muscle soreness. You could also sneak in your abdominal crunches in between weight sets. Keep in mind that you don’t need to perform dozens of them to achieve a six-pack. Slow and controlled abdominal and back exercises are the safest, most effective means of strengthening your core.
Clean out Your Workout Drawer
It’s a great time to retire those ratty gym shorts and T-shirts. Freshen up your workout wardrobe with some of the newer, lighter, breathable synthetics in some snazzy new exercise gear. You’ll not only look better when you’re working out, you’ll feel more comfortable, too.
Lighten up When it’s Lighter Out
Now that the days are growing longer, you’ll want more time to enjoy them. Lighten up your workouts by working harder and smarter, instead of longer. Incorporate some higher-intensity interval workouts, for example, and you’ll get more bang for your buck but in half the time.
Shed Old, Bad Eating Habits
Are you surviving on Powerbars and Gatorade? If so, nutritionally you may be coming up short. If you expect your body to perform challenging workouts, you must provide it with quality fuel. See a nutritionist for a full dietary evaluation, but in the meantime check out my recent blog on spring cleaning your diet.
Are you chronically sleep-deprived during the work week, only to try and make it up on the weekends? Most of us know that a healthy lifestyle includes adequate rest as well good nutrition and regular exercise, but often the first two are sacrificed to make time for training. Don’t forget this important formula: optimal stress + optimal rest= optimal performance.