5 ways to pump up your fitness routine

By Tucker Shaw, 21st Century Media

Sick of all those lists telling you how to get fitter, faster, leaner, healthier in ten easy steps? Forget ten. Try five.

1. Change it up every 5

Weight training has many benefits — a stronger core, a higher metabolism rate, lower risk of osteoporosis and more. But your body can quickly adjust to a rote workout; if your routine stays the same, your body adapts to complete it as efficiently as possible, and your results wane. Solution: Change it up. Trainers call it “muscle confusion,” and it means surprising your body with a new exercise every now and then. So, every five workouts, swap in something new. Sick of squats? Switch to lunges for a spell. Try doing curls on one leg. Do pull-ups instead of pull-downs. You get the idea.

Advertisement

2. Go big for 5

For many people, the first five minutes of a workout is the hardest part -- your muscles complain, your lungs protest, your heart gives you guff. But a 2009 University of Arkansas study shows that some high intensity training is crucial to fat reduction, particularly among older adults. Other research shows that you can burn upwards of 20 percent more calories if you start at a brisk pace, then finish a bit easier. So hit the treadmill with extra vigor up front, and ease up as you go.

3. Find 5 new routes

Does the idea of running or cycling around the same park at the same time of day -- again -- bore you? Mix it up and choose a new route. Denver has more than 200 public parks, 100 miles of running trails and over 850 miles of paved, off-road bike trails. Chances are there’s one -- or five -- that you haven’t used just a few minutes away. If you’re not familiar with the terrain, walk it first. Running may burn more calories, but a recent study from the University of California at Berkeley suggests that walking and running provide similar risk reductions for hypertension, diabetes and more.

4. Add 5 minutes

Add five minutes to your daily workout routine -- an extra lap around the block, another song while on the elliptical machine, a short detour on your bike commute -- and suddenly you’ve added thirty minutes of aerobic exercise to your weekly total. That’s like tossing in an extra workout for the week.

5. Subtract 5 pounds

Common wisdom says you add more weight periodically to your training regiment. But next time, try subtracting instead. Take five pounds off your overhead press weight, for instance, but get through your reps more quickly.

FIVE MORE IDEAS

Take the stairs: Five flights a day translates to about 100 calories burned.

Make your own lunch: You’ll almost always eat healthier.

Choose a bowl of blueberries, not a blueberry muffin: Fewer calories, more nutrition.

Update your playlist: Nothing amps up a workout like a new set of tunes.

Grab a pal: Exercise is better shared.