Just because summer is wrapping up doesn’t mean you have to stash your fitness routine with your bikini. In fact, if you’ve been exercising moderately for at least four weeks (meaning some yoga classes, walking on the beach or sessions on the elliptical trainer at the gym), there’s no better time to start ramping up your workouts. According to ExerciseTV trainer Holly Perkins, increasing the intensity of your fitness regimen is surprisingly easy, not to mention the fastest way to bust a plateau and see serious results. Here, Perkins outlines some tricks to rev your routine so you can strengthen your muscles, lose more fat and improve your athleticism. And of course, still look hot in your teeny bikini, should you decide to break it out for a swim.
Be sure to rest at least a few days in between intense workouts. For example, if you bust your butt on Monday, take it easy until Thursday. “Intense workouts with several days of rest in between are actually more effective than exercising hard every day,” Perkins says. “You actually get fit while you’re recovering. The point of working out is to exhaust your muscles, and then as they repair and ‘knit,’ that’s when they strengthen.” In other words, your body literally tones up while you sleep.
Re-fuel immediately following your workouts. “You should eat as soon as you finish—within 30 minutes of your workout,” Perkins says. “That’s when your muscles need the nutrients most, and your metabolism is still elevated from the recent exercise.” Perkins suggests combining protein and fruit. “Real food is best, meaning lean meat, dairy, eggs or soy. Protein shakes are OK, too,” Perkins says.
Stay active on your easy days. Increasing the intensity of your overall fitness plan doesn’t mean you give up your regular moderate gigs. Continue to do yoga, walk or jog in between the tough workouts. “Light movement helps muscles ‘repair’ by increasing the body’s temperature and circulation,” Perkins says. “It also helps flush negative byproducts (like lactic acid), which can cause soreness.”
Remember to challenge yourself. If your ‘intense’ workouts start feeling easy, go faster or add jumps. “Quite simply, sprinting and jumping boost intensity because you’re working harder against gravity,” Perkins says. Skipping rope is one way to boost your heart rate.
Take a break … sometimes. If you’ve been exercising intensely for several weeks and sense you’re hitting a plateau, it’s a good idea to take a week off. “Further increasing intensity is one way to keep progressing, but sometimes the body plateaus when it needs rest,” Perkins says. “A week off with ‘active rest’ like cycling or walking can recharge your muscles.” Try Stephanie Vitorino's free Flexibility workout for another muscular recharge.
Finally, check out www.exercisetv.tvfor more free workouts and advice from celebrity trainers.