Sometimes, you head to the gym craving a treadmill run and arrive only to find all the machines full. Bummer! But remember: there are some creative ways to work around this situation. Instead of throwing in the towel and heading straight for the sauna, try this elliptical workout instead. To make this joint-friendly machine feel like running, don't hold the handles and pump like you do when you're running. Going hands-free on the elliptical is great for your core, and it might help you work on evening out your stride. We did throw in some reverse action at the end of the workout for your cooldown.
A regular cardio routine is great for your heart, mind, and waistline, but yours may be doing you more harm than good. Whether your weight-loss efforts have plateaued or you keep being sidelined by injuries, check our five dos and don'ts of cardio to make sure you avoid making big cardio mistakes.
- Do make it count: If you've logged yet another slow elliptical session for the week, it's time to pick up the pace for a few of your workouts. Adding interval training to your normal cardio routine helps you burn more calories and increase your endurance. High-intensity interval workouts like this 45-minute belly-fat-blasting treadmill workout will up the burn and ensure you're not wasting your time.
- Don't only do cardio: You're not going to see results if you only do your favorite type of cardio workout. If you want to build muscle, burn more calories, and lose more weight, you have to add strength training to the mix as well. Tack on one of our 10-minute strength-training workouts before or after your run in order to build up those metabolism-boosting muscles.
- Do start slow: Going out for a full sprint on the treadmill can cause injury and burnout. Warm up your muscles safely so you can put in an effective workout. Start with five minutes of jogging, uphill walking, or slower reps on the bike or elliptical so you can prime your muscles for your full workout. Alternatively, you can take a few minutes to do a dynamic warmup before you head out.
- Don't do too much: Yes, there is such thing as too much of a good thing. Even if you've upped your cardio routine for weight-loss reasons, you shouldn't go overboard — overtraining can lead to fatigue and injury. Stay aware of how your body feels and cut back on your cardio if you're feeling overworked and tired.
- Do mix it up: You may be a running addict, but doing the same workout all the time can get tedious. Make sure you keep things fresh by changing your route, playlist, or type of cardio regularly. You'll keep from plateauing while expanding your workout horizons.
No one messes with your perfect 72-minute routine that allows just enough time for cardio, strength training, stretching, and a quick shower, so when you can't carve out that chunk of time, forgoing exercise seems like a no-brainer. But short workouts have their place too, so even if you only have 15 minutes to spare, here are three reasons to slip on your sneaks and go for it.
- There are still calories to be burned: Focus on fast-paced movement like jumping rope, walking up and down stairs, or bike riding for 15 minutes, and you'll burn between 120 and 165 calories. Can't say that for sitting on your tush. And those calories add up! Burning 135 calories on a 15-minute run might not seem like much, but if you squeeze it in five times a week, that's 675 calories more burned than if you decided to skip out.
- You'll reap the health benefits: Before you get so tense at the office that you want to hurl your computer, why not take a 15-minute break? Aside from reducing stress and boosting your mood, getting your blood flowing also gives you energy, can prevent depression and relieve headaches, can help you sleep better, and clears your mind. It doesn't take much time for those endorphins to start flowing, and even a miniworkout will have you feeling better. Plus, studies show that 15 minutes a day can add three years to your life.
- It keeps you on the right path: I'm sure you've heard the saying, "One healthy choice leads to another." When you get in the habit of exercising every single day, no matter how much time you can devote, you're more likely to stick with it and do longer workouts when you do have the time. Likewise, if you get in the habit of skipping, it's even harder to get the motivation to slip on that sports bra. Your mind and body will appreciate the consistency, not the excuses, so whether you have 15 or 50 minutes, it's all worth it.
After having the opportunity to take a challenging class with Dailey Method's founder, I understood why this fitness-focused barre workout has such dedicated devotees. Jill Dailey's background is a combination of dance, kinesiology, Pilates, and exercise rehabilitation — in short, this woman is obsessed (in a good way!) with alignment.
Even if you don't live next to a Dailey Method studio, you can still bring Jill's enthusiasm and exercise expertise to your living room with her DVD, Dailey Now ($35). This video features two 15-minute workouts that can be performed alone or together for a 30-minute workout, and one full 60-minute class structured just like a Dailey Method studio workout. Whether you're a beginner or more advanced, this DVD offers a little something for everyone.
I tend to be a little wary of short workouts, but the combination of strengthening and stretching exercises in this segment could easily stand alone. From her first instructions, Jill urges you to focus on your breath and your core alignment right away. And instead of offering a quick note and moving on, Jill delves into everything you should be feeling: "the natural curvature of your back . . . the pulling of your abdominal wall . . . stabilizing your pelvis." She leaves no stone unturned when it comes to the sensations you should be experiencing and where to draw your attention. It feels like Jill is right there with you, easily able to correct all your misalignments and offer personal instruction.
In addition to Jill's expertise and knowledge of the body, her dry yet relatable sense of humor is present from start to finish. Whereas other instructors who aren't trained as TV personalities tend to have a difficult time connecting with the camera, Jill shines through the screen. Just a few minutes into the workout, I laughed out loud when she explained, "It's a well-known fact in all my classes, the longer you breathe, the shorter plank is." Jill has the rare ability to keep you motivated and connected to the program without being saccharine or over-the-top.
Keep reading to learn what you can expect from the rest of this challenging DVD.
Earlier this year we taught you about battle ropes and how to not be intimidated by them. Now you love them . . . but you can only use them at the gym — or the CrossFit Box — right? Because you know, they're too heavy to carry around, and most people don't have the space to set one up permanently at home. (And if you do, we're officially jealous.) But then I discovered the Lightning Rope: It's a lighter-weight version of the classic set of battle ropes that's perfect for beginners — and easily portable, too.
The bright yellow Lightning Rope, produced by the company Muscle Ropes, is the same
diameter (1.5 inches) and comes in the same lengths (30, 40, 50, 75 and 100 feet) as the company's other products, but weighs significantly less per foot — 18 pounds for the 50-footer, compared to 25-plus pounds for the rope's big brothers "Thunder" and "Aftershock," for example.
But get something straight: These ropes aren't easy — they're still a super-challenging workout. But their lighter weight makes them easier to carry around between sessions, and great for people who want to lose weight or firm up, but not necessarily bulk up. (In fact, you'll see Lightning Ropes on the upcoming season of The Biggest Loser!)
So what do you DO with a Lightning Rope? Set it up in a driveway, garage, backyard or basement by anchoring it around a sturdy, stationary object — like a big tree, a metal pole, or a tire on your car — then back up until there's just a little bit of slack in the rope and you've got one end of the rope in each hand. Hollywood-based trainer Steve Lutsk, who's used Muscle Ropes with his clients for years, recommends starting with a 50-foot rope ($100) if you've got 25 feet of space to spare; otherwise, opt for the 40- or 30-foot option.
Lutsk says that adding four to nine minutes of Ropes work to the end up your regular workout will trigger what's known as the after-burn effect. "A few minutes of super-intense movement will really jack up your metabolism, so you'll actually burn more calories for something like 36 hours afterward," he explains.
So, now you have your battle ropes and are ready to get started? Try one (or both!) of Lutsk's go-to moves described below; start by doing each exercise for four minutes at the end of your next workout, alternating 15 or 20 seconds of fast-as-you-can-go intensity with 40 or 45 seconds of rest. As you get stronger, work your way up to nine-minute rope sessions, with longer activity sets and shorter rest periods.
Be sure to squeeze some pool time into the last few days of Summer, but skip the crawl and backstroke. You can burn a bunch of calories in the pool — no swimming required. Here are five moves that will get your heart rate up while keeping you cool. Add our favorite ab and core exercises into your watery workout to target your middle, too.
By now, we all hopefully know that interval training rocks. Whether you're running, rowing, or swimming, playing with speed has multiple benefits. One way to push the interval envelope is to decrease the rest time between your bouts of sprinting. Shortening the recovery period pushes your anaerobic threshold and strengthens your cardiovascular system. Plus, it's fun to mix it up once in a while.
Our latest elliptical workout is 30 minutes of calorie-burning interval fun. Keep reading to check it out.
If you don't live near a SoulCycle studio, it's still possible to bring the spirit of this sweat-drenching cycling workout with you the next time you hit the gym. Lauren McHale, an instructor at SoulCycle Marin, is known for creating just the right tunes to inspire her students, and now she's doing the same for us! This 45-minute playlist will inspire you to knock out intervals, keep things steady, and even slow things down to a more meditative state. Whether you use it to run, cycle, or strength train, it will be hard to resist the urge to move when listening.
Interval training is the ultimate fitness mashup, blending the speeds of both the tortoise and the hare. All the benefits of this training are enough to motivate you to pick up your pace and head to the gym now. Keep reading to learn why you should play with intervals.