Hands up if you feel that your treadmill, stationary bike and step machine routine at gym is just not cutting it any more (*puts hand up*). It can be a bit of a snore and to be honest, the results aren’t always worth all the effort. What you need is to level up! By making small adjustments and adding a little variety to your gym workout, you’ll ward off boredom, kick your fitness efforts back into high gear, and get that body you have always wanted. Here’s how.
The main reason we tend to hit a plateau is because our bodies become too used to the activity we’re doing. One of the easiest ways to maximise your workout is to change up the intensity of your run, cycle or steps. High-intensity intervals keep your body guessing and improve your ability to burn fat. The technique is super simple: Alternate periods of high-intensity work with less-intense ‘rest’ periods. Besides turning your body into a calorie-burning machine, interval sprints have also been shown to strengthen your heart and increase endurance by upping your anaerobic capacity.
Another option is to gradually increase your pace as you go. There are many benefits to running slow and steady, but accelerating forces your muscles and nervous system to work harder, which will help boost your metabolism and ability to shed those extra kilos.
This is Tabata!
The training technique of 20 seconds at high intensity and 10 seconds at low intensity for 4–10 minutes (Tabata), is a type of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) that has proven to provide better physical and health benefits (including weight loss, heart health and mental well-being) than an hour of steady-state cardio every day.
Incline and resistance
There’s a chill in the air in the morning at this time of the year, which makes heading to the gym in the semi-dark the slightly more pleasant alternative to exercising outdoors. So while we’re eagerly awaiting summer to show its sunny face, it’s important to try mimic the up- and downhills you’d experience out on the road when you’re hitting the treadmill. Play around with the incline
or resistance on the gym equipment to help get your running and cycling stronger. Hill sprints target your lower body so you can expect more defined calves, thighs and bum (the dream, right?)
the more often you do them. And as with intervals, the harder you push your muscles, the more energy you’ll burn. Win!
This is great to add into your intervals on the treadmill, stationary bike or step machine to really feel the burn. Rule of thumb: Ramp up the incline/resistance by one or two notches when running at slower paces, then drop it way down at higher speeds so you can go flat-out.
Variety is key in your fitness journey, so why not add a little strength training into your cardio routine? This helps you burn more fat (even long after your workout ends), boosts your metabolism and improves muscle tone where you want it most – arms, abs and booty.
Treadmill: Walking lunges
Alternate lunges and walking every minute for 5–10 minutes
Keep the speed of the treadmill low and walk with a slightly wider stance, feet shoulder-width apart. Perform walking lunges by dropping your back knee until both legs are at 90°. Engage your glutes and push yourself back up to bring your feet together, and in a fluid walking motion, repeat on the other leg. Keep your torso upright throughout and place hands on hips for balance.
Arm pump! Hold a light dumb-bell in each hand as you lunge and walk, pumping your arms as you go, to work your biceps and triceps. Pro tip: Take the dumb-bells with you to the step machine to ramp up that movement.
Stationary bike:Body-weight burn
Alternate two minutes of cycling at a moderate pace with one minute of skipping, burpees or squats.
Words: Andrea Robertson | Photography: Unsplash