It is the same old story. The summer has arrived, you want to look good and feel confident about your body when you hit the beach. So you join a gym for an extortionate monthly fee, battle to use any of the machines at rush hour and eventually lose interest in favor of heading out for a few post work cocktails to unwind after a hard day at the office. Sound familiar?
This is a routine many of us follow every spring. So maybe it is time for a change? Maybe it is time for a fresh approach? So let’s take a look at some of the alternatives to becoming a slave to the gym.
Sprint workouts can be a great way of gaining the cardiovascular benefit of an endurance exercise in a fraction of the time. Short bursts of intense exercise can improve muscle health and performance to the same extent as several weeks of endurance training. This will also help to increase the muscle’s tissue capacity to utilize oxygen.
A sprint workout is based on short bursts of sprinting interspersed with recovery periods. The first step would be to measure out a track in the shape of a square with each side measuring forty yards. The workout would start by jogging the first forty yards and then sprinting the second forty yards at about sixty percent intensity. The next two sides of the square would be recovery before sprinting again at eighty percent intensity. Jog another two sides before running the final side at one hundred percent intensity.
This workout should be repeated between four and eight times each day. It is recommended that sprint workouts are performed no more than three times a week and to warm up thoroughly before hand.
High Intensity Interval training is pretty self explanatory. You must be prepared to push yourself out of your comfort zone but it can be really effective. High Intensity Interval Training involves cardiovascular exercise performed at such a high level that your body spends the rest of the day expending energy to recover from the earlier workout. This means your body is still burning fat when you are sitting in your favorite chair, watching TV later that night.
High Intensity interval Training is similar to the sprint workouts mentioned earlier but there are two approaches. The first approach is to start out by jogging for five minutes followed by a full intensity sprint for between fifteen and thirty seconds. This should be followed by a recovery period where you walk or jog lightly for two minutes. The second approach would be to start out by jogging for five minutes followed by sprinting at eighty percent intensity for between forty five seconds and ninety seconds. This should then be followed by a recovery period of between one and two minutes. Each of these routines should be completed between five and ten times each workout, two or three times a week.
Uphill sprints are similar to High Intensity Interval Training in as much as your body continues to expend energy long after your workout ends. The first step in developing an uphill sprint workout is to find a steep hill that is about forty yards long. Jog up and down the hill a few times to warm up. Then spend twelve minutes sprinting up the hill and jogging back down it, taking a ten second break before starting the next sprint.
This is a pretty simple, quick workout but it can be very effective. It is very demanding on your body though so make sure you stretch out well both before and after your workout.
Kettlebell workouts are another intense training routine that have become very popular recently. Originally used by Russian wrestlers over a hundred years ago, a kettlebell is essentially a bowling ball with a handle on it. The swinging action involved in many of the exercises described below tone the body while also having a major impact on strength and conditioning.
For a beginner, there are three easy exercises to try. The first one is push-ups, which are performed in a similar manner to regular push-ups but instead of laying your hands flat on the ground, you have to grasp two kettlebells placed firmly on the ground. This type of push-ups is more difficult because of the extra distance between your body and the ground. Another easy exercise is swings, where you grab a kettlebell with both hands and swing it from chest level to the back of your legs.
There are numerous other kettlebell workouts available but it is strongly recommended to start with these to get used to using the kettlebells.
The final type of workout we will look at it natural resistance exercises. One of the most common types of natural resistance exercises are pull ups, which have a huge impact on your upper body, specifically the upper back and shoulders.
Most people would be familiar with a regular pull up, where you start by grasping a bar above your head and try to pull your body up so that at least your chin but as close to your chest rises above the bar. There are variations of this exercise, for example a dynamic pull up which this requires two bars, one just slightly above the other. The aim is to perform a regular pull up on the lower bar but as your chest reaches above the lower bar, you must reach up and grab the higher bar, perform another pull up and then drop down to the lower bar again. You should only start by doing two or three of these pull ups with the aim of performing ten at a time.
They say that a healthy body means a healthy mind. And while performing these workouts may make you look great, they will make you feel great too. Exercise can have a huge effect on your day to day life, relieving stress, reducing lethargy and providing a sense of real accomplishment once it has been completed. While some of these workouts may seem extreme to someone who has never attempted them before, imagine how you will feel once you can do them effortlessly? But taking the first step is crucial and that is no one else’s responsibility other than your own.
While the short term benefits may be more related to vanity, there are important long term benefits associated with exercise too. Regular exercise helps your circulatory, respiratory and muscular systems perform better which will be invaluable as your body grows older as it reduces the risk of a wide range of illnesses such as heart disease.
So you really have no excuse. Get out there and start exercising. You will look good and more importantly, you will feel better.