The cold and rainy weather has made it easy to throw on a sweatshirt and leave those get-fit resolutions to the wayside. However, spring break is about a month away, and if you want to get toned up to look awesome in the bikini that’s been tucked away all winter long, here’s some tips to make the most of your workout.
#1 Take your cardio elsewhere.
Cardio exercises are great fat burners, but cardio alone isn’t going to do the trick, so don’t waste your hour at the gym on a treadmill. Instead of just walking on a treadmill, sneak in cardio workouts wherever you can. Take the stairs every chance you get, park far away and take a longer walk, use downtime on campus for a powerwalk, or pop up and do some jumping jacks during study breaks.
According to LiveStrong, strength training will help you build muscle and more muscle burns calories even when you’re simply sitting on the couch or in class. So instead of spending your time at the gym doing things you can do outside, take advantage of the weight equipment to do some strength exercises to tone those muscles. If you still insist on sticking to your treadmill, at least make sure you’re mixing it up. Take a day to do long distance, a day or two to run on the hills setting, and a day or two to do some faster intervals with slower recoveries.
#2 Do it, but don’t overdo it
A rookie mistake is doing a hardcore full-body workout on the first attempt on getting into shape and their extremely sore bodies leave them with a quitter’s attitude. Set up a schedule to work out on a daily basis, but still give some parts of your body a rest. For example, arms on Monday, abs on Tuesday, legs on Wednesday, arms on Thursday, a circuit class on Friday, and rest on the weekends.
When you’re setting up a schedule, make sure you’re considering how much free time you have each day to do these workouts. Don’t count on waking up earlier if you’re not a morning person, and don’t count on an hour between classes if you know you’ll want a shower afterwards. Your plan should be realistic so you know you’ll stick to it.
There a hundreds of ways to stretch your muscles, but regardless of which ones you choose, it is important to give your body a good stretch to avoid injury and soreness. Start with a warm up that involves jumping jacks or a light jog to warm up your muscles and stretch everything from your neck to your ankles. When you complete your workout be sure to stretch again to help your muscles repair themselves and avoid soreness.
#4 Home workouts and group workouts
If the gym intimidates you, don’t underestimate a home workout. Do some research to find the best workouts for your goals that require minimal equipment and create a plan with workouts you can do on your bedroom floor at home. These workouts range anywhere from planks to mountain climbers, but it’s important to choose workouts you’re comfortable with.
If you feel like you have to go to the gym to be motivated, but you don’t know where to start, take advantage of the group classes USF’s gym offers on a daily basis. There’s a variety of options throughout the day, so pick the one that interests you most and get training from a professional. Because you’re not doing it alone, you’re less likely to quit. Not only will you feel like you got the most out of a workout, but you’ll also likely walk away with some workouts you can do at home too.
#5 Pay attention to what you eat, but don’t let a diet consume you
Moderation is key when it comes to eating healthy. Try to avoid going extreme by cutting out carbs completely or barley eating to avoid calories. A stressful and tedious diet will only make you miss the foods you love and likely lead you to giving up. Not to mention, according to Dr. Oz, stress is also a known cause of weight gain, so don’t let your diet work in reverse.
A better solution is to eat clean and try to maintain a balanced diet with proteins, veggies, grains and fruit. Eating clean means avoiding foods with preservatives and all the weird ingredients you can’t pronounce; this will help your body digest what you eat and retain the nutrients. Keep in mind that foods such as poultry and eggs are a much better source of protein than red meat, and whole grains such as whole wheat pasta and oats are much better than refined grains such as white bread and white rice. Make sure you’re checking out the nutritional value of the foods you eat and try to swap those potato chips for carrots and peanut butter.
With spring break just around the corner, it’s easy to freak out and over work our bodies to get in bikini shape, but if you start now and take your healthy lifestyle one step at a time, you’re more likely to have long last results that you can be satisfied with.