We know that there are no shortcuts to getting fit and staying fit. Working out takes perseverance, consistency and well, work! But every once in a while, you should stop and ask yourself, “Am I working out smarter and not just harder?” After all, we don’t want to waste one drop of hard-earned sweat in our pursuit of fitness. We want to get the most out of every workout, run, bike ride, or trip to the gym. Here are five ways to exercise smarter to get the results you want without spending more time in your sneakers.
- Tackle weight lifting at a 2-4 tempo. There’s more to strength training than moving the weights around. The speed at which you lift and lower those weights is very important if you want to get the most out of your workout. For best results, follow the “2-4 count” during resistance training. Spend two full seconds in the concentric phase of an exercise (typically the phase when you lift the weight up); during the eccentric phase (usually the phase when you return the weight to its start position), take twice as much time—four full seconds. Research shows that exercisers who lower the weight in this slow, controlled manner gain nearly twice the strength as those who do not take as much time.
- Introduce interval training. Most of us are guilty of logging a lot of mindless miles at the gym. We get on a piece of cardio equipment, set the level and time, and zone out on autopilot. If you really want to get the most out of your time, mix in some interval training to boost your calorie burn. Many studies, including those published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, have found that including several short bursts improve fitness and burn fat more quickly than working out at one steady moderate pace.