As I always tell my clients, challenging your body in new and different ways is essential to improving your fitness level. Here are five ways to challenge yourself and upgrade your fitness:
1. Don’t Be A Machine. The machines at a gym limit the range and variety of your movements, so stay away from them. Instead, think of how you move in every day life: bending, lifting, twisting, squatting, etc. and mimic this in your workouts. I believe so much in the effectiveness of this approach to fitness, I even wrote a book about it entitled, 5 Essential Workouts.
2. Add Intervals. Interval training (alternating intense effort with active rest) not only requires less time than traditional, steady state cardio, but also produces greater post-exercise calorie burn and hormonal response.
3. Lift Weird Stuff. You don’t always lift well-balanced, easy-to-grip objects in your daily life, so don’t always do it in the gym. In order to create real-world strength incorporate the kettlebells, sandbags and ropes into your next workout. If nothing else, wrap a towel around a pullup bar to make the grip harder.
4. Plan Your Recovery. You research and plan your workouts and your recovery is just as important. More than just sleep and proper nutrition, essential recovery activities include stretching, foam rolling, icing, yoga and massage. Give yourself an hour a week of these performance-enhancing activities.
5. Move All Day. Working a desk-bound job or deepening the butt-print on your sofa can reduce the benefits of your workouts. Find ways to add activity to day by conducting walking meetings, planking during commercials, washing your dishes and getting up from your computer to stretch once and hour.