Going to the gym regularly seems to be an exceptional act. Three 45-minute workouts are just a tick under the federal government’s recommendation of 150 weekly minutes of moderate activity. Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than three-quarters of United States adults don’t reach that threshold.
But let’s say you’ve established a fitness habit. The next challenge is what do with your time. Regardless of how solid your initial program is, eventually a sameness creeps in: the same exercises, same order, same weight — same routine overall. The body and mind respond by becoming bored. Is there a way to wake up your workout?
The easy antidote is to make a change. “In order to make something different happen, you need to challenge your body in a different way,” says Josie Gardiner, a personal trainer in the Boston area. You could hire a trainer to revamp your program. That isn’t a bad move, but it’s even simpler to slightly alter what you’re currently doing. Your time in the gym will be reinvigorated. And you’ll shift your mindset from just getting through your workout to believing, “I could do more than I thought,” Gardiner says.
Tweak your treadmill workout
By changing just one element, you can make your workout shorter — between 30 to 35 minutes — and more efficient. Choose among these options depending on how you feel.
Vary the speed. A fairly typical treadmill workout runs at a pace of 3.5 to 4 miles per hour for 45 minutes. Instead, interval train, Gardiner says. Research on healthy, young to middle-age adults shows that high-intensity interval training is better than endurance training at increasing VO2 max, the amount of oxygen the body takes in and uses during exercise. A higher VO2max indicates better conditioning and aerobic performance. Warm up at your normal starting speed for five minutes. Then start your interval cycle by increasing your speed by 1.0 miles per hour for one minute, then returning to your base rate for two minutes. Repeat this cycle six to eight times, ending with a five-minute cool down at a slower pace. This workout takes less than 35 minutes to complete.
Vary rest time. As you build your endurance, try cutting the rest time in each interval cycle to one minute. This shortens your workout even more and makes it harder.
Vary the incline. Warm up at your starting pace for five minutes, then increase the slope of the incline by one degree every minute with a goal of getting to 10. Once there, come back down by one degree every minute. End with a five-minute cool down. This is another way of changing the intensity, and it only takes 30 minutes.
Tweak your weight workout
Choose just one element to change at a time:
Play with pace. When using weights, vary the pace at which you lift the weights up and bring them back down to starting position. Count 2 seconds up, 2 seconds down; 3 up, 1 down; 1 up, 3 down, 4 up, 4 down. Your muscles will work and react differently.
Add weight. If the last few reps of your set feels easy, you aren’t working hard enough — you have to strain a little. If that’s not happening, choose a heavier weight so that you find it difficult to do the last few reps. Aim for the fewest additional pounds that your gym options allow. Most importantly, maintain good technique. “The minute you lose form, you’ve lost the exercise,” Gardiner says.
Change your hand position. The modifications will hit different parts of the muscle. With bicep curls, rotate your hands towards each other, with thumbs on top instead of pointing towards the walls, to make the exercise into a hammer curl. With a lat pulldown, you can either narrow or widen your grip on the bar. With a seated row, you can use different bars; a triangular one for a close grip, the lat pulldown bar for a wide one. With lateral dumbbell raises, rather than lifting to the sides, lift the weights straight out in front of you to shoulder height.
Focus on the feel. Regardless of what you do when lifting weights, the fundamental aspect to remember is that you’re targeting a specific muscle. It sounds overly obvious and basic, but concentrate on the muscle and feel it squeeze. “It puts your brain in the middle of muscle,” Gardiner says. It strengthens the mind-body connection. What’s more, a small study of college-age men suggests that focusing on the contraction can increase muscle size.
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1 Chronicles 6:31-32 Now these are those whom David appointed over the service of song in the house of the LORD, after the ark rested there. They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, until Solomon had built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem; and they served in their office according to their order.
1 Chronicles 25:1 Moreover, David and the commanders of the army set apart for the service some of the sons of Asaph and of Heman and of Jeduthun, who were to prophesy with lyres, harps and cymbals; and the number of those who performed their service was:
2 Chronicles 5:12-14 and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons and kinsmen, clothed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps and lyres, standing east of the altar, and with them one hundred and twenty priests blowing trumpets in unison when the trumpeters and the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and to glorify the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice accompanied by trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and when they praised the LORD saying, “He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting,” then the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.
2 Chronicles 35:15 The singers, the sons of Asaph, were also at their stations according to the command of David, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun the king’s seer; and the gatekeepers at each gate did not have to depart from their service, because the Levites their brethren prepared for them.
Ezra 2:65 besides their male and female servants who numbered 7,337; and they had 200 singing men and women.
Psalm 11:1 In the LORD I take refuge; How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain;
Psalm 13:1 How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?
Psalm 31:1 In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge; Let me never be ashamed; In Your righteousness deliver me.
Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.
Psalm 49:1 Hear this, all peoples; Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
Psalm 77:1 My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud; My voice rises to God, and He will hear me.
Psalm 139:1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
Habakkuk 3:19 The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places. For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.
Psalm 9:1 I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.
Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
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