Best way to workout
You know the basics: Do resistance training on alternate days, include core exercises in your routine, and stretch only after you’re warmed up. But once you’ve met your original goals, it’s time to raise the bar. Getting faster, stronger, and more flexible takes more than just doing more of the same. Here’s how tweaking your approach can bring your results to the next level.
Traditional methods of boosting speed include sprints and intervals, during which you alternate fast runs with slower “rest” periods. But another way to really shave off time is by adding plyometrics to your workout, says Tom Holland, certified strength and conditioning specialist and author of Beat the Gym. Also known as “jump training, ” plyometrics involve explosive movements that require muscles to lengthen and then immediately contract, much like a spring. “Plyometrics improves running economy, which means you expend less energy with each stride, ” says Holland. The rapid-fire movements train you to accelerate quicker, increasing overall speed and efficiency. A simple way to incorporate plyometrics into your workout is with jump squats.
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart and hands clasped behind your head. Keeping your weight on your heels, squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause in the squat, then jump up as high as possible, absorbing the impact of the landing by pushing your hips back and bending your knees before immediately jumping up again. Do two or three sets of 15 reps.
RELATED: The Insanely Effective 15-Minute Workout
Being able to finish a 10k or just make it through your entire cycling class largely depends upon your core strength, says Holland. “Your core is involved in the transfer of energy to your arms and legs. So in the later stages of an event or workout, that energy transfer will be thrown off if your core is weak.” In addition to the traditional plank, try this challenging CrossFit-inspired move called The Hollow Rock.
How to do it: Lie on your back with your arms extended overhead by your ears. Engage your core and begin rocking your entire body by lifting your feet and legs up and then raising your upper body and arms while lowering your legs. Your body should move like a rocking chair and your abs should feel challenged throughout the movement. Start with 20 to 30 seconds and work up to two minutes.
It’s frustrating when you train hard and still don’t see the muscle tone and definition you want. Fine-tuning your diet can help by increasing lean tissue and decreasing body fat. Even if you have a relatively healthy diet already, cleaning it up a bit more can help reveal the underlying muscle you’ve built, says Amy Goodson, R.D., board certified specialist in sport dietetics and co-author of Swim, Bike, Run—Eat. “The cleaner you eat, the leaner you will be.”
How to do it: For a sculpted look, focus on eating protein at each meal and snack and decreasing salt and sugar. Lean protein (fish, low-fat dairy, eggs, and lean meat) helps you repair and build muscle after workouts and feel full faster, keeping calories in check. Salt and sugar, on the other hand, can cause bloating, hiding those hard-earned muscles. If you sweat a lot during a long event, such as a marathon, replace your electrolytes during and after your workout and cut back on salt later in the day, suggests Goodson.