Tips to make your workout routine better

MICHELE FOLEY
Last updated 10:52 13/09/2013
Exercise
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GET OUTDOORS: There's nothing better than a run in the fresh air for clearing your mind.

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If you've hit a plateau in your workout routine or just want new ways to challenge yourself, then here's your goal: check off every item on the list below. These essential fitness tips will have your heart pounding stronger and will help kickstart your fitness.

1. Make it intense: Whatever your workout, bump up its intensity at least once a week. Add intervals to your cycling routine, maximise strength training by doing supersets, or couple a yoga class with a run. Doing so helps you burn more calories in less time, builds endurance, and can also help boost metabolism.

2. Take your runs outdoors: Stepping away from the treadmill will not only add a new type of scenery to your running routine, but also challenge your body to work harder - say hello to a new, toned behind.

3. Fuel properly: Getting through a workout sometimes comes down to something as simple as eating the right food. An hour or two before exercising, eat a snack of complex carbs with a little bit of protein. Whole-grain cereal with non fat milk is a good option, or nut butter with some whole-wheat toast.

4. Go shopping: You've made a commitment to fitness, so you deserve the right wardrobe to go along with your new lifestyle. If you feel good in your fitness gear, you're ten times more likely to actually begin your workout.

5. Never skip the warm-up (or cooldown): To avoid injury and lessen muscle soreness, it's important to take care of your body before and after workout. Before launching into the full intensity of any workout, do five minutes of light cardio, and once it's over, make sure to cool down with some stretching.

6. Prep your gym bag: Keep excuses to a minimum by always having a gym bag prepped and ready to go. Pack it the night before to grab on your way out, or stash it in your car or under your desk at work.

7. Incorporate watercress into your diet: Exercise can put stress on the body, but watercress has been shown to combat its effects. In a British study, researchers found that individuals who ate watercress had less DNA damage after exercising than those who skipped the green.

8. Get your Z's: It's hard to tackle a one-hour bootcamp class on four hours of sleep. Getting around eight hours is the first step to a quality workout.  

9. Practice good form: Good form is a must when exercising, so be sure to check yourself often. Two key areas: the shoulders and core. Make sure to not round your shoulders and back while exercising, and to keep your core engaged. This will help stabilise the body and protect it from injury.

10. Make a schedule: Before your schedule becomes overrun with social engagements, make a point to schedule in workouts. Block off time for your favourite classes, a fitness date with a friend, and that weekend run you keep putting off. Most importantly - don't cancel on yourself!

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11. Get off the phone: Don't distract yourself on the elliptical by gabbing on your phone or with your workout buddy. It takes the focus away from your workout and is also distracting to the people around you.

12. Take a yoga class: It's so easy to get caught up in gym culture that you skip a solid stretch. Yoga is a complementary workout to running, cycling, and most other activities, and is a helpful way to challenge the body's core and balance.

13. Hydrate: Before, during, and after your workout, drink plenty of water. Proper hydration keeps the body functioning properly, warding off fatigue and helping to prevent muscle soreness.

14. Make a new playlist: There's nothing like heart-pumping music to motivate you through a workout, and no matter what your taste, there's a playlist out there to motivate your toward activity.

15. Join a posse: For some friendly competition, or extra motivation, schedule a few workouts with friends. It's a great way to try out a new class or work toward a goal together.

16. Eat some dark chocolate: Go ahead and indulge in a square of quality dark chocolate. A recent study showed that individuals who ate a little dark chocolate before a workout performed better.

17. Work out in the morning: While there's rarely a bad time to exercise, working out in the morning has been shown to burn more calories.

18. Schedule a session with a trainer: Trainers don't come cheap, but if you are new to the fitness scene, then it's a worthwhile investment. Even if you only commit to one session, it's a great way to check your form, learn the basics, and develop a workout plan.

19. A little is better than nothing at all: No matter how busy you are, carve out a little time get up and move. Why? Twenty minutes has been shown to boost metabolism, and working out intensely for just 2.5 minutes can spur extra calorie burn throughout the day.

20. Sign up for a race: For some extra motivation and a new challenge, sign up for a race. Committing to something in the future will force you to train, and just think about how satisfied you'll feel when you cross that finish line.

- PopSugar

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