Trade Slow Cardio for Interval Training
The road to a leaner body isn't a long, slow march. It's bursts of high-intensity effort paired with slower, recovery efforts. Fifteen to 20 minutes of interval training performed like this can burn as many calories as an hour of traditional, steady-state cardio. And unlike the slow stuff, intervals can keep your body burning long after the workout ends.
Brace Your Core Before Every Exercise
Your core's much more than a six-pack of muscles hiding beneath your gut -- it's a system of muscles that wraps around your entire torso, stabilizing your body, protecting your spine from injury and keeping you upright. Fire these muscles before every exercise to keep your back healthy, steady your balance and maintain a rigid body position. You'll get the added bonus of isometric exercise for your middle, which could reveal the muscles in your core you'd like everyone to see.
Trade Machine Exercises for Free Weights
Machines are built with a specific path the weight has to travel -- one that wasn't designed for you. If you're too tall, too short, or your arms or legs aren't the same length, that fixed path won't match your physiology and you'll increase the likelihood of injury and develop weaknesses. Trade your machine exercises for dumbbells, barbells and medicine balls to build strength in ways more specific to your body, while also working all the smaller stabilizing muscles that machines miss.
Tuck Your Shoulder Blades Down and Back
This tip is great for chinups, but it's more than that. By sliding your shoulder blades down and back before an exercise -- like you're tucking them into your back pockets -- can improve your results and protect from injury. It helps activate your lats for pulling exercises, work your pecs more completely in pushing exercises, keeps your chest up during a squat, and can reduce painful impingement on your rotator cuff during biceps curls.
Increase Your Range of Motion
Add more work to each rep and increase the efficiency of your workout by increasing the range of motion -- the distance the main motion of the exercise travels to complete the rep. Squat deeper. Drop the weight until it's an inch or two above your chest. Raise the step for stepups. Elevate your front or back foot on lunges. Get more from each move and your body will thank you.
Explode Through Every Rep
The "slow lifting" trend should be confined to the eccentric or "lowering" portion of any exercise. During the concentric portion, where you push, pull, press or jump, move the weight (or your body) as quickly as possible. Even if the weight doesn't move that fast, the intention of moving the weight quickly will turn on your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which will make your body more athletic and train it to use more fat as fuel.
Lift Heavier Weights
Packing more weight on the bar won't make you "bulky." It will make you stronger and protect you from osteoporosis by increasing bone density. To get the greatest benefits, lift at least 60 to 70 percent of your one-rep maximum for each exercise. Instead of going for complicated calculations, choose a weight with which you can perform 8 to 12 reps, with the last rep being a struggle but no impossible.
Drink Chocolate Milk After Your Workout
A post-workout mix of carbs, fat, and protein will help your body build muscle, reduce soreness, and recover faster so you can work out again sooner. If you are rushed for time or normally skip eating after your workout, a tall glass of chocolate milk has the ideal mix of nutrients you're looking for.
Lift, then Run
If you perform your strength training before your cardio work, you'll burn more fat while you pound the pavement. In a Japanese study, men who did the workout in this order burned twice as much fat as those who didn't lift at all.
Don't Stretch; Warm Up
Static stretching done just before activity can reduce your power output and increase your risk of certain injuries. Instead, perform an active warmup that gets your body ready for exercise with exercise, increasing your heart rate, firing up your nervous system, and getting your muscles used to moving. For an easy routine, perform a 5-minute warmup of basic, body weight moves -- lateral slides, pushups, squats and lunges.