In many parts of the country, spring is on its way and winter is in the rearview mirror. And even if you’re still dealing with snow and cold temps, more sunshine and daylight, along with and periodic warmer days, can inspire spring fever. As you anticipate spring, now is the time to scrutinize your workout program and nutrition plan in preparation for shorts, sleeveless tops and eventually, swimsuits.While it’s not necessarily difficult to shape up for spring, it does require commitment and a smart plan to look and feel your best. Consider the following for spring workouts:
- Evaluate your workout regimen – If you haven’t been as consistent as you should have been over the winter, get back into a regular routine of exercise 3-6 days per week. Schedule workouts in your calendar. You may have to get up a bit earlier or take advantage of more daylight hours in the evening to fit in your sweat sessions. Or squeeze them in over lunch if you have a gym at your work. Just get them done!
- Vary exercise – Don’t get stuck in a rut doing the same 30-minute elliptical routine everyday. Your body will respond better to variety, so try some new programs on the cardio equipment, embrace a different machine (rower or upper-body ergometer, anyone?), take a new class, check out online regimens or hire a personal trainer for a few workouts to customize a plan that can help you get to your goal. Go outside with exercise to benefit from an invigorating change of scenery and fresh air.
- Incorporate HIIT – If you’re not already doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT), you need to be. These rigorous sessions can incorporate solely cardio or combine cardio and strength, but they blend challenging intervals of greater speed, resistance or effort with brief recovery periods. HIIT burns major calories, jump-starts your metabolism, improves your conditioning and makes workouts fly by. All good!
- Strength train – Although cardio is valuable, strength training is necessary to tone up and deliver definition. Plus, working with free weights, machines, resistance bands or your body weight creates more muscle mass, which boosts your metabolism during workouts and at rest. Make sure you are targeting the major muscle groups 2-4 times per week with effective exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups, planks, rows, overhead press, biceps curls, triceps extensions and more.
- Don’t ignore the core – The core is the center of your body and plays a role in virtually all major movements. Concentrating on this area can play big dividends in your running performance, tennis game and lifting and lowering babies into car seats, cribs and high chairs. Take a core class at the gym or online, ask a trainer or group exercise instructor for recommendations of exercises and do yoga and/or Pilates.
- Check your diet – No matter how much exercise you do, if you eat a lot of junk food or make poor choices, your body generally won’t show all the results of your hard work. Reduce consumption of high-fat, sugary choices and processed foods, and instead replace them with more fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats and nuts, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Eat a variety of foods and regular meals for optimal health.
- Drink up – Tote a water bottle during workouts, and sip throughout the day as well to beat dehydration, which can cause fatigue and headaches. Plus, when we’re dehydrated, sometimes we think we are hungry and eat, when all we really need is some fluid. Limit caffeinated beverages and alcohol intake, which are diuretics and cause you to lose fluids.
Using the above is a great start for spring workouts. Stay fueled.