A couple weeks ago, I completed my third half ironman (a triathlon consisting of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run), and WOW; it was a hard event! I had an awesome race back in October and had high expectations for this race – even to possibly “chick” (beat) my husband. But, a lot has been going on in my life the last couple months that have affected my training – specifically the TIME I had available to do so. Despite not training as much as I would have liked, one of my proudest moments of the race occurred during the run when a fellow participant called me “that crazy girl that was passing everyone up those hills (while biking).” Why yes, I thought, that was me. And how did that come to be? It was all about the QUALITY of my training rides.
As a trainer, I quite frequently get the same request: I want to lose weight/get stronger/finish a race (you fill in the blank), but I only have a limited amount of time to do so. What’s the most effective workout in the shortest amount of time? The quality workout. The one where you choose to make the most of your minutes. Spending 30 minutes on the treadmill 3x per week and lifting weights that weigh less than your grocery bags are good because these workouts are providing movement that you would not otherwise be doing, but, if you want to make the most of your minutes, make them count. Work hard. Sweat. Challenge your body and your mind. THIS is how you get stronger, leaner, and fit. Not to say that 30 minutes on the treadmill is easy, but once it gets easy, it’s time for a change if you’re looking for results. Here are a few ways you can increase the quality of your next workout:
- Set your intentions. When you come to the gym or head out for a run, take a moment to set an intention or make some personal goals for your workout. If you’re new to an exercise routine, it might be to be proud of yourself for making it to the gym today and breaking a sweat. If you’re short on time, it might be to do some speed work or a short, sweet, but hard strength training circuit.
- Be present. I know, at this point it sounds like I’m leading you through a yoga practice, but it’s true. I see tons of people reading a magazine or Facebook-ing while they’re slowly plodding away on the treadmill or recumbent bike. The longer they read, the slower their legs seems to move. While moving while reading certainly burns more calories than the alternative, if you have a fitness goal in mind for your workout, try again! To improve the quality of your workout, stay focused on the task at hand: your workout.
- Mix it up. Our bodies are amazing machines and are constantly getting more efficient at our daily activities. The more we do the same thing, the easier it becomes. So, throw your body a few curve balls. Do some intervals or try a new machine. Keep your body guessing (and getting stronger, more balanced, and burning more calories) by regularly mixing up your workout routine.
- Use good form. Taking the time to learn and use good form increases the quality of your workout. It’s well worth the time to decrease your risk for injury so you can keep your workout routine on track!
- Ask for help. When in doubt, ask a professional for help. Certified personal trainers are movement specialists, so if you’re not sure if you’re doing something right, ask a trainer to observe your form and provide some constructive feedback. Maximum power, speed, and strength are only available when you’re moving in the most anatomically correct range of motion possible for your body.
For my last race, when I did have time to ride, I made it count. I chose the hills. I rode the distances. And rather than skipping out on a training ride because I only had an hour, I did as much as I could as fast as I could in that hour. I was the girl that passed people riding up Tennessee and Georgia hills because the quality of my training rides made the difference. How does quality affect your fitness and wellness routines?