Want to know the secrets to getting a fit-as-hell body in record time? We did too, so we went straight to research, personal trainers, exercise physiologists, and fitness instructors to round up the best workout tips to kick a fitness routine into high gear.
Put a few of these moves, motivation, and mantras into action each week and you’re guaranteed to see faster results!
The Best Workout Tips: Why You Should Exercise
1. It can save your life-really! Regularly doing cardio and strength training reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and endometrial, colon, and breast cancers. The American Heart Association recommends exercising for 30-60 minutes on most days to reduce your risk of heart disease.
2. You’ll feel less stressed and happier. Exercise has been proven to improve your mood and decrease anxiety. Studies show that the fitter you are, the better you’ll be at handling the long-term effects of stress. One moderately intense 50-minute aerobic workout has been shown to significantly lower anxiety levels. And a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that exercise may be more effective than drugs in treating mild to moderate depression.
3. It strengthens your bones. Exercise increases bone density, helping prevent osteoporosis. High-intensity activity, like jumping and running, is most beneficial for preserving bone mass.
The Best Cardio Workout Tips
4. Always warm up and cool down. This exercise tip will help you maintain your mobility and flexibility and prevent injury. Take 5-10 minutes to gradually raise your heart rate at the beginning of a workout and lower it afterward. Before strength training, do low-intensity cardio that recruits larger muscle groups like your legs, back, and core. Try this quick warm-up before every exercise sesh.
5. Take this jump-rope challenge. “The best cardio workout is the jump-rope double-turn maneuver,” says Michael Olajide Jr., former number one world middleweight contender and cofounder/trainer at AEROSPACE High Performance Center in New York City. “It’s intense: You’ll burn about 26 calories per minute! Do a basic jump for 5 minutes, then jump twice as high and turn the rope twice as fast so it passes under your feet twice before you land. This takes timing, patience and power. But you’ll get in great shape just by working at it.”
6. Don’t cruise through cardio. Increase intensity by doing intervals: After a warm-up, alternate 1-2 minutes of activity at a rate of perceived exertion, or RPE, of 7 or 8 with 2-4 minutes of lower-intensity periods (RPE of 3-4). Repeat 4-6 times. Use our handy guide to help determine your RPE during any workout.
7. Tone up on the treadmill. “Save time at the gym with this 10-minute cardio/sculpt session: Hop on a treadmill holding a three- to five-pound dumbbell in each hand, and set the speed to a brisk walk. Do a 60-second set each of shoulder presses, biceps curls, triceps extensions, side laterals, front laterals and standing triceps kickbacks one after another as you walk. It’s an amazing upper-body challenge that also gets your heart pumping. Do this series two or three times each week. As you improve, work up to doing 4-minute sets,” says Michael George, trainer and author of Body Express Makeover.
8. Make over your running routine. “Unless you’re training for a marathon, skip long, slow, distance running-sprinting builds more muscle. Add a few 10- to 60-second sprints to your run, slowing down just long enough to catch your breath between them,” says Stephen Holt, ACE personal trainer.
9. Use the talk test. If you can’t speak a sentence or two with each breath, you’re pushing too hard .
10. Get a jump on weight loss. “Add plyometric box jumps to your workout to improve your cardiovascular stamina and leg strength – you’ll really sculpt your hamstrings, quads and glutes. Find a sturdy box that’s at least one foot high. Starting from a standing position, explosively jump to the middle of the box, then jump back down. Repeat 20 times,” says George.