Some of us are seeking better health and wellbeing via diet and exercise. Often the numerous workout protocols and dietary options can be confusing. We can easily get into a rut or wind up spending a lot of money on equipment, trainers or memberships. I learned my lessons taking my son to a few performance enhancing shops during his quest to be a nationally recruited football player to a Division I school. He already had successes in high school but the Division I world was quite competitive, notwithstanding the need to have your own plan for marketing your skills to your favorite schools. I learned a lot and even spent time in their “adult fitness” program, during which I had the chance to meet some professional athletes in different sports. The take-away messages you may want to consider:
- Don’t forget your core—often we work on particular exercises to get a certain look or reach a goal. We need to break from the tendency to follow a regimen by taking one day a week out of our routine for core work that is totally different from the usual routine. I found that jumping rope gave me a different work out that could be expanded by changing from traditional to heavy ropes. There are tons of core exercises to check out.
- Develop your own form of gassers—those are the exercises where you push yourself to exhaustion, such as running between two points until winded. Hey, you don’t have to go over the top! Another effective one is progressively raising the elevation on the treadmill while running 30 seconds of sprints alternating with 30 seconds of rest. The body recovers just enough to make the next run, but cardiac output still stays relatively high even during rest, so you still burn calories and increase endurance. The goal is to keep the heart rate up for the entire exercise. We run two sets at each level and work our way up in half step increments on the incline and speed: 4, 4.5, 5, 5.5 and so on. I also like going to the local high school and running sprints up the stadium steps with rail pushups as the break between sprints. Of course, you can start by walking and work your way up to running.
- Check out fitness blogs or You Tubes to find different exercises to vary your routine. It helps to break up muscle memory. Many personal trainers will give you different work out combinations over a few sessions or even one visit. It’s important to prearrange the reason for the use of their time. It’s easy money for them and if you like what they did, you’ll come back for more later, or give them a referral.
- I know this is number 4 but at the end of the day, consistency and persistence are the hallmarks of your fitness foundation. So keep up the good work. And put in your time. It always pays in compound interest in the end! Take it from me, at 61, my wife and I do a boot camp on weekends whenever we can, beside our weekly routines. It keeps us feeling like we’re 40!