How to make your workout work harder

If your weight loss or fitness levels have plateaued, it may be time to ramp up your exercise routine a  little. Here are some tips to help.

Work out harder for less time

You don't necessarily need to spend hours and hours at the gym. “The secret is the intensity of your effort,” says Nardia Norman, spokesperson for Australian Institute of Fitness. “When you're out of breath because you've been exercising hard, this can force your body to use fuel – fat stores – to provide energy.” 

So why not try ramp up your sessions by running or cycling at a high intensity for just two to three minutes each day?  So, if your health and fitness levels allow it, why not try some higher intensity training? 

Don't be disheartened if you can't slog it out for more than a couple of minutes at a time when you first start. Research suggests that as little as three 20 minute sessions of high intensity interval training a week, comprised of four to six short (2-3 minute) bursts of vigorous exercise, separated by brief recovery periods, can help improve your overall fitness, and can have other health benefits. “Go as hard as you can, until you can't. Then rest until you can,” advises Norman. “And do that lots of times.”

Superset your exercises

Another technique to add intensity to your workouts is to perform a few strength-based exercises in a row, ideally without stopping.

This is called ‘supersetting’. “Choose a muscle group and do two sets of three different exercises which target that muscle group,” says Amie Skinner, Master Trainer, KX Pilates. “Then do the same on another muscle group and create circuits which are muscle group focused.”

Increase your weight

How heavy is your child, or even your grocery bags? If they're pretty heavy, then you can probably lift heavier weights than you currently are, explains Norman.

Remember, your body adapts to exercise demand over time. This is the concept of progressive overload, which is an important consideration if you wish to become fitter and stronger through your training. If you're a weights novice, then begin light, then slowly add heavier weights to your workout and impressive results may just come your way.
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