by Pete McCall
This is the time of year when many people decide to make resolutions and hit the health club to get the body they’ve always wanted. To determine the most effective methods of exercise, it makes sense to work with a personal trainer and also look at what fitness professionals do for their own workouts.
The successful habits of people who exercise for a living include scheduling time for workouts, using a heart rate monitor to measure intensity and doing higher intensity exercise to be able to burn more calories in a shorter period of time. A number of personal trainers and group exercise instructors were asked about their own workout habits, or tips and tricks they incorporate into their own exercise program.
Here are 9 ideas and tips straight from the pros that you can consider for your own workout!
1. Include exercise as a part of the daily commute.
Chris McGrath, ACE-certified Personal Trainer working in New York, makes it a habit to include exercise as a part of his daily commute. New Yorkers have the option of taking public transportation such as the infamous subway and public buses. While he makes time for regular exercise, Chris will add exercise to his commuting by playing a little game he calls ‘beat the bus.’ Rather than spending time standing still at a stop waiting for the next bus to take him cross-town to his next client, Chris will start walking along the bus route and keep his eyes open for the next bus. Depending on how traffic is moving through Manhattan, it is easy for him to add an additional 30 to 60 minutes of walking each day. On nice days, he takes the subway most of the way home, but gets out a stop or two early so he can walk for a bit and enjoy the good weather.
2. Wear a heart-rate monitor and follow the two-day rule.
Geralyn Coopersmith is the Senior National Fitness Manager for Equinox Health clubs and mother of an active eight year-old boy, but she still finds time for her own workouts. One of her secrets is ALWAYS wearing her heart rate monitor so that she can measure her intensity for every workout. She uses the Polar FT60 and takes the time to program her workout goals so the monitor tracks her progress every week. “As silly as it sounds, seeing that digital trophy icon on the watch indicating that I’ve hit my goals for the week really motivates me to keep going.”
Since she is a working mother, she doesn’t have much time for the mental escape provided by the boob-tube; however, while doing her cardiovascular exercise she will watch shows that don’t require much brain-power, allowing her to focus on the intensity of the exercise (helped by the heart-rate monitor). Finally, Geralyn follows what she calls the two-day rule; unless she is sick, she tries not to ever go more than two days in a row without making the time for exercise admitting that, “in my experience it is easy to let two days turn into two weeks.”
3. Add speed, agility and quickness drills to a weight training workout.
Ryan Gallop is a Personal Trainer at the FIT Athletic club in downtown San Diego. Ryan is also a player for the OMBAC Rugby Club so when he works out, he needs to focus on high-intensity training for rugby. What’s one of his secrets? When Ryan does his strength-training workouts he will add some speed, agility and quickness drills to keep his heart rate up, and work on sport skills as a form of active recovery. “Active recovery” means recovering from an exercise using a low-intensity activity. Active recovery helps rid muscles of lactic acid, to prevent soreness and fatigue. For example, after he’s completed a set of a weightlifting exercise, he’ll do a few footwork drills on a speed ladder. His focus is to work on improving coordination and agility while recovering from the lift. This also allows him to maintain an elevated heart rate to work on his cardiovascular fitness.
4. Schedule the time for your workouts and try to include your friends.
Kimmel Yeager, ACE-certified Group Fitness Instructor for Equinox in Boston, makes sure she stays fit by planning her schedule a week in advance. According to Kimmel “I have found that I’m more focused and successful if I plan for the week on Sunday, that way I feel more committed to a yoga class on Friday or a dance class on Saturday if I’ve written it into my schedule.” Another thing she does to stay active is plan workouts with her friends allowing incorporation of her social life with her exercise schedule. “It’s fun to work-out with a friend so that you can do more intense exercises like throwing a medicine ball or challenging each other to complete a certain number of reps.” Kimmel maintains a regular workout date with her roommate so they can stay fit together.
5. Enter competitions to create some specific training goals.
Keli Roberts is an ACE-certified Group Fitness Instructor at the Equinox in Pasadena, California. To stay motivated for her own workouts Keli competes in cyclocross racing which can easily be described as a hybrid of mountain biking, criterium racing (another bicycle event) and cross-country running. “My yearly cycling training goals all focus on the cyclocross season in the fall,” according to Keli. Entering in competitions during the fall season gives her a specific goal for her year-round fitness program. Joining a competitive team sport team such as a rugby club or entering in race competitions such as cyclocross or an adventure race is a great way to establish a specific training goal which provides the motivation for exercise.
6. Do circuit training with minimal rest periods to increase the intensity of the workout.
Chris Morel is an ACE-certified Personal Trainer at the Sports Club/LA in Boston. For his workouts Chris likes to do circuit training using a combination of dumbbell, medicine ball and body-weight exercises. He’ll start with the body-weight exercises with a rest period between each one, as the workout progresses he will increase the resistance from medicine ball to free-weights and shorted or remove the rest period between the exercises. He’ll focus on integrated movements like woodchops, one-leg straight-leg deadlifts, and multi-directional lunges. He’ll complete a circuit with no rest between the exercises except to change weights or position, then rest for two minutes after the entire circuit. This strategy allows him to keep his heart rate elevated while doing more work in less time.
7. Try all the latest fitness trends.
Monica Ammann is an ACE-certified Group Fitness Instructor in San Diego. Her recommendation is to try the latest fitness classes or the newest fitness equipment in a health club. “As an instructor I am always interested in trying out new class formats to see if I would be interested in teaching them, but for the average group exercise enthusiast, trying a new class can be an excellent way to add some change to a stale routine.” Whenever a new piece of equipment such as the latest cardiovascular machine shows up in a club Monica enjoys trying it out and adding it to her normal routine. “It’s always fun to try something new and when a club debuts a new piece of equipment, I like to become familiar with it so I can recommend it to members.”
8. Cross-training, include many different formats of exercise throughout the week.
Christy Pylypczuk is the Regional Training Specialist for Lifetime Fitness in Rockville, Maryland. Her strategy is to use cross-training so that she does a number of different exercise formats which keep her from becoming bored or stale with any one routine. Currently her schedule looks like: Pilates Reformer with a certified instructor one day, yoga three days per week, total body strength training two to three days and some form of cardiovascular training almost every day. Participating in a variety of different exercise formats is a good way to challenge the body while avoiding repetitive stress injuries from repeating the same exercise movements over and over again.
9. Increase the intensity of cardiovascular workouts.
Cari Shoemate is an ACE-certified Personal Trainer in Houston, Texas. As a runner she enjoys nothing more than a long, challenging run but when her schedule does allow the time, she will increase the intensity by doing speed intervals on a treadmill. “Ideally, I'd like to get a minimum of forty-five minutes on the treadmill. But, when that's not possible, I condense my cardio into a smaller session but really kick it up a notch with the speed to push the intensity,” she said. As a result, Cari has found that she ends up getting a better workout in less time because she is able to challenge herself with the pace of the run instead of the distance. For example, when she only has about twenty-five minutes for a work-out she will: jog/warm-up for about five-to-seven minutes, do a steady fast pace (or race pace) for ten minutes and then finish with sprints for about ten minutes. For the sprints, she’ll go as fast as she can for about thirty seconds and then rest for thirty to sixty seconds. Cari is another fitness professional who uses a heart rate monitor. During the recovery periods she will allow her heart rate to drop to seventy-five percent of her max before starting the next spring.
All of the professionals interviewed focus on helping other people achieve their personal fitness goals. To kick-start a workout, or to set new fitness goals for the New Year, consider taking the time or investing some money to work with an ACE-certified professional. Locate an ACE Personal Trainer in My Area
So what are your tips and tricks? Share them by commenting below.