We get it. Not everyone has hours to dedicate to the gym every day. But whether you have hours of spare workout time or just mere minutes, you should be able to achieve the results you crave. They key is to focus not on the amount of time you can dedicate to a workout, but rather to the quality of the workout itself. Make these simple swaps in your gym routine, and we promise you’ll be stronger in no time.
Planks for Crunches
Oh, the good ol’ crunch. You might have learned this move way back in elementary school gym class or from your mom’s aerobic workout videos. We’re not quite sure why this is such a gym staple, especially when more simple and effective ab exercises exist. While you may feel the burn after doing 100 or so, you’re not activating your entire core, plus you’re adding stress on your neck if your form is off. If you’re dreaming of a tighter core, ditch the crunch and start planking. Planks are a total body exercise, sculpting your shoulders, core, glutes, and back. Not only will planks strengthen your body, they’ll also improve your balance. The best part about planks? They’re totally customizable for your fitness level. Just starting your fitness journey? Perform a plank on your knees. Is a traditional plank starting to get too easy? Lift one leg off the floor or incorporate a BOSU ball.
Stair Machine for Elliptical
The most effective types of exercises are ones that mimic movements you already make in your daily life. Have you ever once walked like you were on the elliptical? Probably not. People don’t often shuffle their feet at a weighted incline in their day-to-day activities. But do you know what they always do? Climb stairs. While working out on the elliptical burns calories and improves your cardiovascular fitness, the stair climber does a better job of toning your entire leg without the strain of an unnatural movement. Next time you hit the stair climber, select a speed that is comfortable (yet challenging) and won’t cause you to reach for the handles. Although the handles are there for balance, leaning on them moves the effort out of the leg muscles and onto your upper body. If you find yourself clinging on for dear life, slow down.
Squats for Leg Press
When you’re limited on gym time, it’s best to avoid isolation exercises and pick moves that work several different muscle groups. Isolation exercises are exactly what they sound like, they target a single muscle group. While the leg press is great for strengthening your quads, that’s all it’s really good for. Squats, on the other hand, work your quads, glutes, and abs. There’s also dozens of different types of squats, which are perfect to tone different areas of your legs. For example, a sumo squat (wide legs) tones your inner thighs and a narrow squat targets your quads. Want to kick it up a notch? Grab a light dumbbell or kettle bell and hold it to your chest while you perform this move. Remember, to avoid injury when performing a squat, make sure that your knees never go past your toes.
Lunges for Adductor/Abductor Machines
While you might think the adductor/abductor machines are a killer workout for your leg, there may be a better way to work your legs in a pinch. Just like hammering your abdominal will not give you a six pack, side leg lifts won’t slim your thighs. You will only achieve the results your desire by eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. You will work more muscles if you swap these machines for lunges. Lunges target your inner thighs, quads, and glutes, all while helping to improve your balance. Plus, there are so many different variations, you’ll always have the opportunity to mix it up. Once you mastered the traditional static lunge, try side lunges or a curtsy lunge.
Strictly Cardio for Strength Training
One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight is focusing solely on cardio and forgetting about strength training. Although hitting the treadmill immediately burns a lot of calories, your body stops burning calories the moment you stop exercising. Strength training, on the other hand, builds muscles. While doing bicep curls doesn’t burn as many calories as running a 5k, the muscles you created will burn more calories while your body is at rest. Having more muscle tissue means you’ll burn more calories at rest and a slimmer appearance.
Looking for even more tips on making the most of your workouts? Schedule an appointment with a Boost Fitness trainer today!