Seasonal Workout Pick-Me-Up

Have you put on a few pounds over the last few months since Thanksgiving?  Are you thinking about breaking your winter hibernation state to trim down for the summer?  Or maybe you’ve been doing the same workout for the last 4 to 6 months.  If any of these statements pertain to you then take heart … you are not alone.  Even the most steadfast gym goers tend to slack off on their workouts during the winter months as evidenced by those extra pounds that winter comfort foods help us put on.  As April approaches many of us have a desire to break out of our winter slug state and put some pep in our workout steps.

Spring is the perfect time to update a workout program and lean down for the summer months.  Here are 7 tips that you can apply to your workout regimen to help you achieve that sleeker, warm weather look you love. 

1) Take a holistic look at your exercise and diet regimen.  Remember every great workout program consists of three primary elements: Cardiovascular Exercise, Weight Barring Exercise and Nutrition.  Make sure that you are addressing each of these primary elements in a strategic way.  Get help from a personal trainer or a nutritionist to give your new program some focus and “spring.”


2)       Give your cardio program a boost.  If you’ve been doing the same kind of cardio for 3 months or longer (i.e. Elliptical, treadmill run, etc.) consider mixing it up a bit by adding an outdoor run once or twice a week to break up the monotony.  Or try the new Arc Trainers.  The change in machinery and scenery are guaranteed to give new energy to your cardio workouts.

3)          Increase your intensity.  Instead of focusing on how much time you are spending doing cardio or weight training, let your spring workouts be dictated by increased intensity level.  In other words, pay closer attention to the degree of physical effort you are expending and challenge yourself to work harder for less time.  The best way to do this is to first calculate your maximum heart rate: You can approximate your own training heart-rate zones as follows...

220 - Your Age = Maximum Heart Rate x Intensity = Training Zone

For intense aerobic training try to train between 70 and 85 percent your maximum heart rate.  This range can also be maintained by using a heart rate monitor.  And yes, your weight training sessions can have this level of intensity as well.  Just cut out some of the weight room chitchat and decrease the amount of rest between sets to 20-30 seconds.

4)          Consider your present weight-training program.  If you’ve been performing the same number of sets and reps since you don’t know when this may be just the change you need.  Three sets with 10 reps is just a standard.  There’s no reason you can’t do 2 or even 4 sets of an exercise with up to 15 reps.  Performing fewer sets will give you an opportunity to work more exercises into your routine for the same muscle groups.  More sets of the same exercise will help you to break through weight barriers and set new springtime strength records.  Hire a trainer for a session or two for more guidance.

5)          Tennis anyone?  There’s nothing like a new activity to put more spice into your workout life.  Whether tennis, squash, rowing or hiking these new activities will force you to work your muscles functionally in ways that the weight room just can not duplicate.  Joining a spring sports league is also great fun.  Check the Results basketball schedule or your local neighborhood rag for the softball schedule and have some fun!

6)       Cut out the nutritional “faux pas.”  That’s right … cleaning up your diet and eliminating some of the junk foods will do miracles to your waistline.  Empty calories definitely add up to pounds of unwanted fat.  Go for the healthier fruit and vegetable snack breaks.  Don’t forget to eat frequently during the day (about every 3 hours) to keep your body’s metabolism revving.  And remember to drink plenty of water.  If you really want to fine-tune your eating habits see a nutritionist.

7)       Don’t forget to “stretch it out.”  I put this point at the end to punctuate its importance … not to minimize it.  Most of us spend little to no time stretching and then wonder way we are not as flexible as we used to be.  Build in an additional ten minutes into your routines to focus on stretching.  Remember, stretching for flexibility is best when your muscle’s internal core temperature is high … post workout.  Incorporating a stretch or yoga class into your workout schedule will greatly improve your flexibility, which will improve your recovery time and decrease your risk of injury.