7 ways to tell if your workout is on-point

As compiled from Yahoo health and Self magazine, discover if you’re actually hitting the gym right


Umnia Shahid September 24, 2015
PHOTO: AFP

There’s nothing as exasperating as clocking in at the gym regularly, and seeing no results. And the tragic part is that it happens way more often than you realise.

Why? Because you’re not working out as hard as you think you are. Or worse, you’re working hard, but focusing on the wrong elements. As compiled from Yahoo health and Self magazine, discover if you’re actually hitting the gym right.

You never feel sore or tired the day after a workout

What it means: “This happens when your body gets comfortable with your routine,” says Erin Bulvanoski, a trainer at Kore in New York City. You might be sticking to the same workouts or the same amount of weight, and you really need to be mixing it up.

How to adjust: Make it a habit to grab heavier weights every once in a week. Adding supplementary high intensity exercises can help as well, says Bulvanoski. If you’re not a fan of the weight room, then squeeze in quick short circuits of crunches and lunges in between workouts.

You’re not losing any weight or noticing any physical changes

What it means: “Is your body composition changing? That’s what is most important,” says Holly Rillinger, a master instructor at Flywheel in NYC. If your clothes aren’t fitting any better, you might just be spinning your wheels at the gym — and not in the way you need to.

How to adjust: Keep track of what you are eating and see if you need to adjust your diet, says Rillinger. If you’re not already strength training, add some weights to your routine to build fat-burning muscle. Otherwise, consider working in a high-intensity cardio session to your plan to blast calories — research from Canada found that sprints can help reduce body fat.

You barely break a sweat

What it means: You’re likely working at a steady state and need to add some interval training to your routine, says Jimmy Minardi, personal trainer and owner of Minardi Training in East Hampton, NY, and Aspen, Colorado. “You should break a sweat when you train and should see or feel a spike in your heart rate,” he says.

How to adjust: Get your heart pumping more often. For instance, between stretching or performing a set of squats, drop and do 10 push-ups or 20 mountain climbers to rev your heart rate and you are bound to sweat — proving you pushed your body hard in order to see quicker results.

The last rep feels hard but you could probably do another

What it means: It’s probably time you add more weight to your workout regimen. “You should barely be able to squeeze out that last rep,” says Rillinger. If you’re not sure you can do one more, try she says. If you fail, that’s fine, and is a sign you’ve reached your limit — which is, in fact something you should be aiming for.

How to adjust: Pick up free weights that are two to four pounds heavier than what you’re used to, suggests Bulvanoski: “It can help burn more calories, take your sculpting routine to the next level and get you results faster.” Also, incorporate additional body weight exercises such as tricep-dips and the plank.

You can chat with your friend throughout your workout

What it means: Unless it’s supposed to be an easy recovery session you’re probably exercising at too low of an intensity. A leisurely stroll with a friend is a nice way to pass time, but not if you expect that activity to help you lose weight. Short phrases, perhaps, but if you’re able to belt out Yo Yo Singh while brisk walking, you need to reassess your workout plan.

How to adjust: Sport a heart-rate monitor and check in to see if you’re working out in the right zone. If you’re not too tech savvy, screen your breath —  make sure to be out of breath for at least 60 per cent of your entire workout. Hitting the weights? Don’t put them down until you notice your form slipping or can’t lift them without shaking; those are signs you’ve done enough, suggests Minardi.

You run several days a week but aren’t getting faster

What it means: There’s a good chance you’re doing all your runs at approximately the same pace—which won’t help you get speedier. “Intervals are key, and you need to add speed to your routine,” says Minardi. Without jolting your jogs with sprints, you’re not going to notice improvement in stamina.

How to adjust: A recent study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that adding high-intensity cardio sessions to your routine can boost your fitness by improving your transport of oxygen, which can translate to better performance. Make at least one of your weekly runs a speed workout — like sprint intervals or bumping up the incline every five minutes on the treadmill.

You’re taking the same zumba class regularly but remain stiff

What it means: You might be working with improper form. “Bad posture, not lifting your knees or keeping your body in one position throughout can have a negative impact on your results,” says Minardi. Whether it’s a spinning class, yoga or zumba, pay attention to your form and ask your instructor for guidance.

How to adjust: Throughout class, remind yourself: form is what counts, not your ego. “It’s not how fast you move but how your body moves while you’re doing it,” says Minardi. Going too fast just to match up with your peers is a recipe for muscle aches and other injuries. Take it slow, and research the accurate forms of zumba, yoga etc thoroughly before enrolling in a class.

By Umnia Shahid

Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2015.

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