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We asked members of the Gold's Gym Fitness Institute to give us their best workout tips. Here's what they told us.
Don't think about it. Just go. The first step in a good workout is mental preparation. "Don't stop and ask yourself if you want to go to the gym," says Belisa Vranich, Psy.D., a Gold's Gym sports psychology expert. "It's a nonissue, not up for discussion." Even if you spend just 30 minutes at the gym, it's better than not going at all. "The point is to not stop your routine," Vranich adds. "It's better to have a mediocre day and keep the momentum going."
Save time with interval training. Forget the days of spending hours at the gym. "Studies show that four one-minute bursts of physical activity at peak levels of intensity are as beneficial as, if not more beneficial than, 20 consecutive minutes of low-to-moderate physical activity," says Robert Reames, a Gold's Gym personal training expert. He suggests running up and down stairs, going for a quick jog around the block, jumping rope or pedaling on a stationary bike. If you do this in your free time throughout the day, you can get your daily cardio in quickly — and you won't get bored on one machine.
Build strength with a balance board. Perfect for core-strengthening exercises, these boards can also be used for upper-body workouts. "Try doing push-ups on a balance board," suggests Mike Ryan, a Gold's Gym strength training expert. "You'll recruit more muscle fibers, work on your balance and find out which side is more dominant." Just grab the sides with your chest directly over the board, then perform a standard or modified (with your knees on the floor) push-up.
Get great abs with a physioball. Engage your core and lower body at the same time. "Sit so that most of your body is on the front of the ball," says Grace DeSimone, a Gold's Gym strength training expert, "then perform a standard crunch without moving the ball. This will use the hip flexors and place additional stress on the lower abdominal fibers for a more challenging abdominal workout." If you want an even bigger challenge, try placing your feet on a step at the same time.
Even out with a weight-balance test. Don't let your hard work go to waste. Eric Plasker, D.C., a Gold's Gym Fitness expert and author of The 100 Year Lifestyle, says a weight-balance test can help you determine the health of your posture and spine to avoid health problems down the road. Take two scales and put one foot on each, then have someone read your weight so you don't throw off the scales by looking down. "A three-pound weight difference on one side compared with the other," Plasker says, "can cause unnecessary strain on the body during a workout." Talk to a Gold's Gym personal trainer for ways to balance out your spine and muscle development.
Relax with two-to-one breathing. Once the mind and body are on the right track, don't let a chaotic state of being ruin your workout routines. While stretching before and after your workout, exhale for twice as long as you inhale, letting out every last bit of air before you inhale again. "This eventually creates naturally longer, deeper breathing and therefore relaxes your entire state of being," says Michelle LeMay, a Gold's Gym stretching and yoga expert. Called two-to-one breathing, this technique helps regulate the motion of the lungs while balancing and quieting the nervous system and energy fields that influence the body and mind, LeMay explains.