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Essential Gear for Starting an Exercise Program

Athletic shoes and socks

If there is one thing to invest in before starting your exercise program, make it your shoes. Quality athletic shoes that fit your feet well and that are designed for your activity can help reduce the risk of pain and injury. In addition to shoes, also consider your socks. Athletic socks that wick moisture are affordable, and they can help you ward off common issues such as blisters.

Comfortable clothing

The number one priority of your exercise clothing is that it should be comfortable, but don’t confuse comfortable with loose and baggy. Big tee shirts and sweatpants may seem like a good choice, but they can get in the way of your workout. Most are also made of cotton, which traps heat and moisture causing you to overheat. Spandex is not a requirement, but more form fitting clothing that wicks moisture and allows you to move easily is ideal.

Tracking tools

Fitness involves more than just your weight, so determine how you will measure your progress before you start your program. Waist circumference, body mass index, blood pressure , and body fat are all components of fitness that you can track. Gather your initial data, and enter it into your MyFoodDiary account. Track your progress at regular intervals such as every month or every three months to make sure you are getting the results to meet your goals.

Stopwatch

Your interval training, circuit workouts, and front planks will be simple to track with an inexpensive stopwatch.

Mat

Floor exercises like push-ups, crunches, and yoga poses are effective exercises. While they don’t require equipment, a mat will make them much more comfortable. Mats provide some cushioning for your back on hard floors, but you can also double up the layers to protect your knees during modified push-ups or use it as a bolster to sit on during yoga.

Water bottle

Hydration helps you perform better during exercise, so keep a water bottle handy throughout your workout. Select one that is easy to use while in motion, and consider an insulated version to keep your drink cool.

Indoor Exercises that Burn Tons of Calories

Indoor Exercises that Burn Calories

Moving workouts indoors during hot weather will allow you to keep up the intensity without overheating. Don’t think that an indoor workout means you have to surrender to lengthy sessions on the treadmill. Add variety by trying new classes, sports, and routines that burn calories and keep you fit.

Rowing machine

If you prefer cardio sessions on machines, step off the treadmill and try something new. Most gyms have rowing machines, but many are rarely used despite the fact that rowing is an excellent full body workout. It is unique in that it works both the upper and lower body at the same time to increase the heart rate. It can be challenging at first, so start by working a few minutes on the rowing machine into your cardio session. As your coordination and fitness improve, you’ll be ready for longer sessions.

Calories burned in 1 hour at a moderate pace: 478

Indoor cycling

Cycling classes remain one of the most popular workouts at the gym. They allow you to adjust the intensity to your fitness level with the opportunity to push yourself for a challenging workout. If you shy away from group exercise classes because of complicated choreography or complex moves, then indoor cycling is for you.

Calories burned in 1 hour of vigorous indoor cycling: 711

Basketball

Indoor recreational sports are great ways to change your routine when it’s too hot outside for your usual walk or run. The stop-and-go activity of basketball provides your cardiovascular system and muscles with a new type of training.

Calories burned in 1 hour: 399

Dance classes

Take a break from the workout mentality and make your physical activity more fun with dance classes. If you’ve been interested in learning dance, now is the time to do it. Everything from hip-hop to ballroom dancing will boost cardio fitness, challenge your muscles, and improve your flexibility. Plus, you can boost brain health by learning something new.

Calories burned hip-hop dancing for 1 hour: 360

Circuit training

End the boredom of 30-minute cardio sessions followed by strength training by creating a circuit workout. Alternate one strength training exercise with five minutes of cardio for the length of your session. It’s a workout that keeps the heart rate up and blasts calories. You can perform your circuit on machines at the gym or by combining dumbbells with jogging in place, jumping jacks, and squat jumps.

Calories burned in 1 hour: 558

* Calories burned are based on a 150 pound female.

4 Plank Exercises for a Stronger Core

Plank Exercises for a Stronger Core

A plank is an isometric exercise that strengthens and tones the muscles of the abdominals and lower back. It requires no equipment and little space, making it one of the easiest ab exercises to squeeze into your day.

When performing a plank, you should feel the work in your abdominals, bottom, and fronts of the thighs, instead of the arms and lower back. All of these exercises are done in a plank position on your elbows and your toes. You can modify the exercise by raising yourself onto your hands or by dropping to your knees, similar to a modified push-up. Whichever version you choose, remember that your shoulders should be aligned and your body in a straight line without the pelvis too high or too low. The American Council on Exercise provides helpful instruction on how to perform a basic front plank .

Start by doing each of these plank exercises for 30 seconds. As you grow stronger, continue to add 15 seconds to your time. Once you work up to 1 minute, repeat each exercise to complete 2 to 3 sets.

Side Plank Rotation

From the elbow plank, come up onto your hands. Position each hand directly under your shoulder. Shift your weight to your right hand and rotate your left shoulder above your right shoulder. Raise your left hand into the air. Keep your body in a straight line from your ankles to your head. Rotate back to the starting position. Shift your weight to your left hand and rotate to hold the side plank on your left side. Continue alternating side planks throughout the exercise time.

Plank with an Arm Reach

From the elbow plank, shift your weight to your left arm. Extend your right arm out in front of you and tap the floor with your fingers. Return to the starting plank position and then tap the floor with your left hand. Continue to alternate the arm reach and finger tap. Concentrate on holding the core tight, and try to keep your hips from rocking back and forth with the movement.

Plank with a Leg Lift

Keep your hips level as you lift your right toe off the floor raising your leg about 6 inches. Return the right leg to the starting position and raise the left leg. Continue alternating leg lifts as you hold the elbow plank.

Plank with a Toe Tap

Shift your weight to your left foot, move your right leg out towards the right, and tap your toe to the floor about 6 inches from the starting position. Return your foot to its original spot. Move your left leg out to the left and tap your toe. Continue to alternate toe taps from side to side as you hold your core muscles tight.

How to Plan for a Better Workout

How to Plan for a Better Workout

Your workout is influenced by more than the time you spend at the gym. When you put in the effort to plan and prepare, you will feel more energized and motivated to challenge yourself and improve your fitness.

Make it more convenient.

While you may need to adjust your schedule and make a few sacrifices to fit in exercise, if it feels too inconvenient, your commitment to it won’t last long. If you work out at a gym, make sure it is easy to get to. Driving an hour because you want to try the latest exercise trend may be exciting for a while, but you’ll be more likely to go if you choose the gym that is on your drive home from work. You also don’t have to commute to exercise. There are plenty of effective workouts with and without equipment that you can do at home.

Find a good fit.

Group exercise instructors, personal trainers, and coaches have different training styles and personalities. Even a gym atmosphere can have a certain vibe and energy level. Not every person or place is going to be the perfect fit for you. Do some research and take advantage of trial periods until you find the right fit. Making exercise a habit is hard enough without forcing yourself to do it in a place that doesn’t get you excited for your workouts.

Wear the right gear.

You don’t need to invest in expensive gear to exercise, but a few essentials will make your workouts much more enjoyable and also keep you safe. An athletic shoe will make joints more comfortable. Cross-trainers work for most activities, but if the majority of exercise will be spent doing a specific activity, like running, choose a shoe that is designed for it. Inexpensive shirts and shorts made with moisture-wicking material can make a world of difference in your workout. This clothing is designed to keep you cool and dry, unlike cotton that can get wet and heavy and can cause you to overheat.

Eat well.

You can’t sustain a challenging workout without giving your body the fuel it needs to perform at its best. Eating a balanced diet with carbohydrates for energy and protein for recovery is only part of the equation. The timing of your meals and snacks is equally important. Experimenting with healthy foods at different times before or after your workouts may be necessary to determine a plan that keeps your energy up without upsetting your stomach.

Take a rest day.

Rest days are essential to an exercise program. They help you recover both mentally and physically so that you can safely keep up your exercise routine. Plan to take at least one rest day a week.

Make sleep a priority.

Exercise is the last thing you want to do when you feel sluggish and sleepy. Fatigue can make you decrease your intensity or cause you to skip the gym altogether. Getting the rest you need will ensure that your energy levels are high when you are ready to workout. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to perform their best.

Stay Focused During Your Workout

Stay Focused During Your Workout

Staying focused during your workout is a way to practice mindful exercise. Mindfulness allows you to concentrate by removing distractions that cause you to waste time. The result is a more effective and safe workout. If you struggle with staying on task at the gym, try these methods to increase your focus and improve your results.

Add intervals

Intervals can be incorporated into any type of workout. During interval exercise, you push yourself hard for a set amount of time and then reduce the intensity for a recovery period. For example, on the stationary bike, warm up for 5 minutes and then increase your cadence for 2 minutes. Slow your cadence and recover for 1 minute. Continue to repeat these intervals for your entire workout. Instead of increasing the speed, you can also increase the resistance or do a combination of both. Concentrating on your intensity and the timing of each interval puts the focus on your exercise performance.

Incorporate supersets

Supersets are exercise sets that are done one right after the other without taking a rest. Supersets can be used in a variety of ways, but one example is doing a set of one exercise and then moving on to an exercise for the opposing muscle group without taking a break. For example, performing a quadricep extension followed by a hamstring curl.

Supersets challenge your muscles, keep your focus on the exercise, and reduce time wasted resting between each exercise. Instead of taking a break after each set, your hamstrings can rest while you work your quadriceps and vice versa. You’ll spend less time standing around, and you’ll knock out your workout more quickly.

Workout alone

A workout partner can keep you motivated, but sometimes he or she also serves as a distraction. If you find that you spend more time chatting than exercising, or if you reduce your intensity so you can carry on a conversation, consider exercising alone at least once per week. Use these solo workouts to incorporate more challenging activities.

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