Thursday, September 29, 2011

5 Impressive Workouts You’ll Want to Try

Aim high, then start small. These strategies will help you ease into “reach” workouts like CrossFit, Bikram yoga, and ballroom dancing.

Gateway Workouts to Get You to Your Goal

While a lack of motivation stands between many new exercisers and their workout goals, others are plagued with the opposite effect: unbridled enthusiasm for fitness. But going too hard too fast can leave you sidelined with an injury—and no closer to your goal than when you started. Taking baby steps toward your desired workout will help build the strength, endurance, and confidence you need to get moving without burning out.

“The same principles apply whether you are running a 5-K or climbing Mount Everest,” says Leigh Crews, a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. “Start slow, push yourself just a little each session, pay attention to how you feel, and don’t continue to do something when it hurts.” Also find just the right amount of rest, she says. “Give yourself plenty of recovery time between sessions, but not too much. Lack of motivation is not recovery. Get back out there and do it!”

The bottom line: Pick a similar (but less intense) activity, master it, and then move on to tackling the real deal. Here are five examples of how a little patience can lead to a big payoff.

You Want to Achieve “Elite Fitness” with CrossFit

But…You don’t currently have a strength-training routine.

Try This First: A body weight circuit

CrossFit may be a bare bones way to build strength and improvecardiovascular fitness, but it’s not easy. “No amount of running, biking, or yoga is going to get you ready for CrossFit,” says Hollis Molloy, CrossFit coach and co-owner of CrossFit Santa Cruz. “The only thing that can get you ready for CrossFit is CrossFit.” To ease into the sport, Molloy recommends starting with three one-on-one sessions with a trainer before going solo on Workouts of the Day (WOD). Start with a routine composed of simple body weight movements that are low-impact and do not require heavy weights, he suggests. “You’ll only have to move your own mass at your own pace.” Most CrossFit newbies will cycle through the following routine as many times as possible in 20 minutes. If you are brand new to a fitness routine, try a 5-minute circuit, says Molloy.

“Cindy” CrossFit Workout for Beginners
5 pullups
10 pushups
15 air squats

Although it may be tempting to repeat what you see in CrossFit workout videos or among other athletes at a CrossFit gym, patience is key, warns Molloy. “Once you’re learned movements and performed them well, then and only then can you try to go fast and increase intensity,” he says. “Quality of movement and good mechanics are how you keep yourself safe.”

You Want to Sign Up for a Spinning Class

But...You haven’t been on a bike since you were 10.

Try This First: A stationary bike workout or half a Spinning class

“Spinning is a notoriously hard class to break into,” says Crews. “It’s high intensity, the seat is hard, and if you are not a cyclist already, your leg muscles will fatigue very quickly and your feet may even begin to cramp!”

Start on a stationary bike to get your legs accustomed to cycling movements and your butt acquainted with the not-so-comfy seating arrangement. Or dive right into the real deal. “If your facility offers a beginner Spin class, take it. Otherwise, you might consider taking only half the class the first few times,” suggests Crews. “As your body adapts, you can stay for more and more of the class.”

As for Spinning’s signature padded shorts? “They are a must for a beginner spinner!” says Crews, adding that making frequent adjustments to your body position will also help ease discomfort by taking pressure off the pelvic floor. Also remember that you have control of the resistance in Spinning, says Crews, so when your muscles are screaming at you, back it off for a while and let them recover. A final tip: Be patient with your progress. “You will be better able to judge your own ideal training zone when you have some miles behind you,” says Crews.

You Want to Take Ballroom Dance Lessons

But…You have achy joints or two left feet.

Try This First: A “light” dance class

Blame shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, but America has gone dance-class crazy—and for good reason. Dance provides total-body toning and the fun factor makes you forget that you’re exercising. To ease into dancing and add variety to your fitness routine or prepare for that summer wedding, test the waters with an intro class that will help you loosen up your hips and get your body accustomed to new movements.

Some dance-fitness programs offer “light” versions for beginners or anyone easing back into exercise, says Crews. Zumba Gold, for example, is designed for older adults, those with limited mobility, or anyone new to fitness. Classes are typically shorter (30 to 45 minutes as opposed to a full hour) while easy-to-follow salsa, meringue, cumbia, and reggaeton-inspired moves are lower impact than those taught in traditional Zumba.

Crews also suggests the low-impact Les Mills BodyVive group fitness class. The 55-minute full-body workout emphasizes core strength and integrates balls, exercise bands, and body weight exercises into a routine choreographed to a pop music playlist that changes every 3 months.

“As with any new exercise, start slow,” Crews advises. “If you are just getting back into exercise, your body may not want to move in all the interesting ways your instructor’s body moves,” she says. Use your first few classes to evaluate how your body responds to particular dance steps. “You can modify for now and become more expressive as your kinesthetic awareness and mobility improves,” she adds. When you’re ready, find a ballroom dance class in your city by visiting

You Want to Cross Your First Finish Line

But…You max out at 2 miles.

Try This First: A beginner running plan and a great pair of shoes

If you’re new to running, the key is to start “where you are” and progress from there, advises Crews. “Be aware that you are going to feel like running harder before your body is really ready, so allow ample recovery time as you push your limits.” Crews’s advice: Start with a great pair of running shoes (discuss your foot type, running style, and anticipated mileage with a pro to get the best fit), then pick a running plan you can stick to. Here are some suggestions.

Beginner’s Guide to Running for Weight Loss A running plan for the true beginner, this walk/run program takes you through 12 stages, progressing from four 30-minute walks a week to 30 minutes of nonstop running. The focus is on endurance, not speed, so take whatever pace feels comfortable for you.

The 5-K Jumpstart Plan If you need a race date to motivate your training, pick an event that is 6 weeks away and get started with this basic intro to running program.

The Half-Marathon Jumpstart Plan If you’ve nailed the basics but want to push yourself a little farther, build your base before embarking on your longest distance yet with a mix of short and fast, and long and slow running workouts.

You Want to Lose Weight Doing Bikram Yoga

But…Heat is not your friend.

Try This First: 45 minutes of hot yoga

If dropping pounds is your goal, Bikram can help. You burn 350 to 600 calories in a 90-minute class, which takes you through 26 standing and seated poses, each performed twice. The challenge is tolerating the workout in a 105°F studio. “You may consider starting with 30 to 45 minutes of class until your body has acclimated to exercising and to such intense heat,” suggests Crews.

While it’s typically advised that students do not leave the room during a Bikram session, explain that you are new to the practice. “Arrive early and let the instructor know that you are a beginner. The instructor can advise you on getting started and help you with form and technique.” Also be sure to wear appropriate clothing for the temperature and make sure that you are and remain hydrated, adds Crews.

To accustom your body to sweating during yoga at room temperature, try the Slim, Calm, Sexy Fat-Burning Yoga Sequence. Vigorous core, lower-body, and upper-body moves will get your heart rate up and torch calories and fat.

1 comment:

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