6 Ways to Update Your Workout

Don’t get bogged down by mundane routines. Re-energize your fitness plan with these expert tips

By: Stacy Lipson  

Revitalize Your Regimen

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

If your workout bores you, it may be time for a change. It’s hard enough to get into the groove when you’re feeling unmotivated, but monotony can stall results, or worse, lead to strain or injury. A good routine should challenge your body but not overextend it, says Valerie Waters, a celebrity fitness trainer from Los Angeles, California. Don’t let a mental roadblock stand between you and your perfect body. Revitalize your regimen with these expert tips.

Follow advice from experienced gym rats.

If you: Like jogging

Try: Water running

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Benefit: Reduced stress on your joints, protection against injury

Exercise: Jumps
Stand in an area of the pool where the water level reaches your neck or shoulders. Vary the position of your arms while jumping: Keep arms down at your side, raise them straight above your head, and place your hands behind your head with elbows bent.

Add: Sprints
Sprint for 30 seconds then rest for 15 seconds. For extra intensity, grab a kickboard. Swim to the opposite end of the pool.

Water running can help keep your body in shape while guarding against future injury. Tim Wakeman, director of strength and conditioning at Michigan State University Athletics, recommends adding pool workouts to your cross-training routine. “It’s a way to switch things up,” he says. “It’s also easier on your joints.”

If you: Are a couch potato

Try: Interval training during commercials

Benefit: Increased aerobic capacity, stronger heart

Exercise: Intervals

When the opening scene of Glee appears, hop on a treadmill and start walking at a normal pace. “At the commercial break, stay on the treadmill and walk at a comfortable heart pace at 3.6 to 3.8 speed for 6 to 8 minutes,” Waters says. During the last portion of the interval, add in a high intensity period. “Run at 6.0 speed. If it is too uncomfortable to run, make sure to adjust the incline.” She stresses the importance of allowing your body to cool off between intervals.

If you: Bike recreationally

Try: Riding hills

Benefit: Stronger legs, increased calorie burn

Exercise: Hill climbing

Warm up slowly. Ride uphill for 3 minutes. Do five to six trips of that section, with 3-minute rest intervals. You want to complete the intervals at a level of intensity that allows you to finish all the intervals at the same power or speed, says Eric Kenney from EK Endurance Coaching in Boulder, Colorado. Make sure to cool down appropriately.

If you’re a novice, practice this routine on a spin bike at the gym before hitting the road.

Get answers to 10 common cycling questions.

If you: Stick to walking

Try: Jogging

Benefit: Better blood circulation, increased calorie burn

Exercise: Walk-to-run routine

Amie Hoff, a former trainer at New York Sports Club, says it’s important to slowly introduce running into your routine and gradually increase movement as your body adapts. “You want to prevent injury and burnout. It’s best to go slow and think about the long term.”

Hoff recommends that you start walking 30 minutes a few times a week. If you are already a regular walker, follow this plan for the first two weeks. Then steadily work your way up to 45- to 60-minute sessions until you are comfortable running consistently at a slow pace.

30 min walk/run
3 min walk
30 second run
3 min walk
45 second run
2 min walk
45 second run
3 min walk
1 min run
2 min walk
45 second run
2 min walk
1 min run
2 min walk
1 min run
2 min walk
90 second run
2 min walk
90 second run

If you: Prefer cardio classes

Try: Resistance training

Benefit: Stronger leg, butt, and back muscles

Exercise: Squat and row
Anchor a band around a heavy object or door. Hold the handles of the band as you sit back in squat position, with arms extended. As you stand up, pull your elbows back and squeeze your shoulder blades together.

If you: Love yoga

Try: Pilates

Benefit: Stronger core, balanced muscle development

Personal trainer and Pilates instructor Brooke Marrone from New York City says that yoga focuses mostly on flexibility, whereas Pilates engages the whole body to promote balanced muscle development. Pilates is known for strengthening your core, she says, and a strong core helps stabilize your trunk, which can improve your coordination during a workout.

Exercise: The bird dog
Get down on all fours. Both hands and knees should be on the ground. Raise your left arm and right leg. Make sure your head naturally extends from the spine, with shoulders pulled away your ears. Keep your belly button in and pulled toward your spine. Alternate each arm and leg after you’ve completed a rep. Keep hands directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Remember to inhale and exhale.

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