Is your body changing from working out? 6 tips to help

i am Used to be one of the most inefficient gym rats in the world. I used to run on the elliptical every single day after work for up to an hour. While the elliptical can give you a great, low-impact cardio workout, I’d rather zone out while watching TV than intentionally use it to really get the benefits—or, you know, do something to improve my strength.

When you’re putting in major time (and sweat!) at the gym, you’re probably hoping to see big results. But sometimes, no matter how hard you seem to be working out, your body isn’t changing as a result of working out and you’re not getting any closer to your goals. So what can you do?

Sometimes, it takes a fairly simple change to turn a ho-hum training session into something truly effective. Here, three seasoned fitness professionals share six small tweaks they’ve found can make a real difference in what you get out of your workout.

1. Take an extra set of weights

Many of us (especially beginners) are often afraid of lifting heavy weights. While it’s wise to start small when you’re new and build up from there, if you’re working out with very light weights, they may not challenge your muscles enough.

“When you’re nearing the end of a set, it shouldn’t be something you can easily complete,” says Joe Shipton, CPT, fitness manager at Crunch in New York City. “If it’s not uncomfortable, you probably haven’t initiated the change you’re looking for. That discomfort leads to growth.”

When you’re attending a class that uses dumbbells, it can be difficult to decide which one to use—will a five-pounder be too easy, or an eight-pounder too intense? Paige Moe, an instructor at CorePower and a founding instructor of the studio’s new Strength X class that uses heavy weights, has a smart solution: Grab a few sets of weights to keep near your mat so you have options. “Maybe you do one of the circuits with heavy weights, and you’re like, holy cow, my booty is on fire, so you lower them so you’re in control,” she says. Or, if you feel that a lighter set is not enough for a particular exercise, you can go flat. Having options will help you get the most out of every single set (especially since some parts of your body are probably stronger than others).

And what if the instructor says you use two sets of weights in class? Maybe grab three just in case.

2. Back to some benchmark measures

Having variety in your workouts is key to building well-rounded fitness. But returning to the same move over and over is also beneficial. “I know sometimes it gets a little boring to do similar movements, but it’s also something we can measure any kind of progress over time,” says Shipton.

Maybe you find that you can do more repetitions before fatigue, or that something that used to feel completely awkward (hello, mountain climbers!) now comes more easily. Repetition will help you appreciate strength gains you might not otherwise notice. A smart strategy is to track your workouts in a journal so you can see your progress from week to week. Marking small milestones on the way to big ones will encourage you to keep going.

3. Focus less on how your movements look, more on how they feel

We all know that our bodies are different from each other. Yet it’s tempting to try to match your movements to the instructor or the guy on the mat next to you (even though he might be a foot taller). “Think how You know, working things out rather than aiming for a certain outward shape or movement or outward range of distance,” says Amy Jordan, founder of WundaBar Pilates. “If I’m concerned about getting inside my own body, deep into my own skin, that’s when I get better results.”

He finds clients often worry about, Am I going low enough in my squat? Am I holding my arms high enough? “It’s not how it looks, it’s really not the shape you’re making,” he says. “The connection you find in your body is important.”

Instead of looking in the mirror, focus on which muscles you feel active and where on your body you feel the irritation. Spoiler alert: you’ll likely find that this method burns more than before! “If you have proper alignment, if you work with breath, if you work with intention, if you work slowly, you’ll find more work,” adds Jordan. “I can knock anybody out in 30 seconds.”

4. Make sure you are on the right surface

Not all exercise mats are created equal. And that’s for a reason. “Sometimes people bring in those real thick mats that are more squishy—they’re for restorative yoga. And if you try to jump over it, you’re going to wobble, aren’t you?” Mo said. (A standard yoga mat is usually about four or five millimeters thick, she says.) Or, if you choose something too thin for a Pilates class, your knee or hip joints may dig into the floor uncomfortably because there’s not enough cushion. . When you don’t have the right foundation for the workout you’re doing, you’ll find yourself holding back so you don’t do any damage and then you won’t get the full benefits.

5. Your rest period

Whether you’re strength training on your own or doing cardio intervals, don’t throw away all your hard work during your rest period. Hold yourself accountable and don’t let your breaks go longer than they should.

“If I don’t schedule my rest, I’m not really executing the program I set out on paper,” says Shipton. “The amount of time you rest is just as important as the amount of exercise you do.”

Because part of the challenge is to go back to the next interval or set with only allocation recovery. If your heart rate is completely calm when it’s supposed to be high, for example, you’re not stressing your body as much as you think.

6. Run your goals by a fitness professional

Whatever your reason for working out, there’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like you’re not seeing the progress you think you’re making. That’s why Shipton always recommends running your goals by an expert.

“Even if someone gets an hour of face-to-face time with a fitness professional to get guidance on what realistic expectations are for that goal and how long it will take, we’ll see them stick with the gym a little bit. long,” she says. Many gyms offer new members a complimentary consultation with a personal trainer—take advantage of that. Whether you’re chasing big goals or small goals, learning what to expect should be your first step.

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