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By Melissa Larson
If you’re like many women, then you are probably pretty good about hitting the gym
on a regular basis. You do your cardio, you lift your weights, you do those modified leg lifts that make you look like a dog whizzing on a fire hydrant. And yet, you aren’t seeing much of a change in your body, even though you swear you’ve been laying off the Doritos and the beer pong. In all likelihood, you are in an exercise rut. Studies have shown that in order to get the most bang for your buck at the gym, you need to change up your workout every couple of weeks. Here are some suggestions:
1. Do everything on one leg. Studies have shown that when you lift weights and perform calisthenics on one leg, you recruit more muscle fibers, which is trainer-speak for making an exercise more aesthetically productive. You also engage your core muscles with all that one-legged wobbling, and we want to engage those at all times. But why stop with weights and calisthenics? Even your cardio will benefit from the one-legged approach. Do the treadmill with one leg. Try the elliptical with one leg. The challenge, both mentally and physically, will revive you. Do switch legs each time you work out—otherwise, the end result may look a little crazy over time.
2. Strap a llama on your back. Llamas weigh anywhere from 50 – 75 pounds, so your regular moves will have that added bit of challenge. The llama may flail around at first, sure, but that will only force you to work harder to keep your balance, thus engaging your core. Most states offer petting zoos featuring llamas, so procuring one shouldn’t be too difficult. A quick drive-by at 3:00 a.m., an offering of some oats, and nobody needs to know. Just return the llama after your workout. Unharmed.
3. Blindfold yourself. Sighted workouts are so 2011. By going sightless, you’ll add a cognitive component to your workout. Trying to find your way around the gym to locate your leg press, elliptical machine, and the like will allow you to access higher levels of your brain and reduce the boredom of your humdrum routine. Plus, you’ll need a really pretty silk scarf as your blindfold, which is a great a excuse to go shopping!
4. Wear a fake belly bump. If you can find a weighted belly bump, even better. First of all, the added weight will undoubtedly make your workout more difficult. Secondly, the stares that you will get from doing a tough workout while “pregnant” will add to your personal entertainment. If you can wear the bump while taking a boxing class, even better. See how many people try to stop you. This can be part workout, part social experiment.
5. Work out at 2:00 a.m. There’s nothing like the world at 2:00 in the morning. It is quiet, barren, and perfectly serene. Naturally, most gyms are closed, so this workout will include a venture into the great outdoors, aka your neighborhood (hope you live in a nice one!). Worried about waking up at such a crazy hour? If you set about ten different alarm clocks all over your house, you should be fine. By the time you turn all of them off, you’ll be a) awake, and b) warmed up! Do sleep in your workout clothes to expedite the process. Sorry about the sports bra indentation.
6. Play an instrument in lieu of listening to your IPod. Most of us like to listen to music to give a workout a little more “pep.” Why not supply the music yourself? Before you hit your cardio apparatus of choice, grab your favorite instrument to “tune up” your cardio session. Of course, handheld instruments such as the harmonica or the flute lend themselves best to this practice. Don’t play an instrument? Try yodeling.
7. Use the gym where your ex-boyfriend works out. What could be more interesting or more motivating than that? A little spying, a little showing off. This does require that you’ve been, ahem, using the gym on a regular basis before you venture into this territory. And of course, all of the psychotic spying will surely engage your core muscles.
Melissa Larson teaches high school English to New Jersey’s fine youth.