Here's a question I like to ask daily: do you like working out and exercising? You'd be surprised to find out how many people answer that question with an emphatic "No!" Now this isn't just a response I get from people starting to work out; it's a common answer I get even among those who have been working out for years.
Yes, working out can suck, but are there ways to make it more interesting or heaven forbid, fun? Of course there are. I have long been a proponent of making something old new again. Remember all those drills your high school coach made you do during sports practice? The running up and down steps or hills; the runs around the track, the suicides (running back and forth increasing the distance each time), the foot drills on the agility ladder, the jumping rope, the jumping over boxes? These are just to name a few. Now imagine adding this kind of exercise to your current exercise regimen.
Yes, there is truly something to say about letting your life come full circle. All those drills we thought we said goodbye to for the last time can surprisingly be our saving grace in regaining our health, losing weight, and turning back the clock.
The formula is a very basic one: add conditioning and plyometric exercises to your routine (which should consist of some form of muscle resistance training and strength training) and effectively burn calories, lose weight, tone, and sculpt your muscles and your body. I'll give you an example: a typical weight resistance workout may be weight training your back and bicep muscles. You may complete a series of exercises for each muscle group, aptly hitting various parts of the muscle. Bent-over rows, seated rows, deadlifts, preacher curls, concentration curls, and reverse grip curls are examples of some of the exercises. You then follow this with sports conditioning exercises like burpees, box jumps, jumping rope, or using medicine balls. If some of these exercises sound like a foreign language, have a personal trainer or an experienced athlete demonstrate them for you and walk you through how to properly do them. A trainer can also determine what exercises will be appropriate for you.
Now sports conditioning exercises are not meant to replace general cardio and endurance exercises like running outdoors, on a treadmill, running path, or track, or using elliptical machines and stationary bikes. They're meant to add variety to your workout, help you in your quest to improve your physicality and your health. If you're an athlete, they'll also assist you in improving your speed, agility, power, and athleticism.
One of my favorite quotes about exercise came from Cher, who said "Fitness – if it came in a bottle, everybody would have a great body." Let's face it, physically working out is not everybody's cup of tea, but instead of meeting it with feigned indifference, we must find ways of making the most necessary components of a healthy life interesting at the very least. Personally, I have always found mixing up exercise routines with sports conditioning and plyometrics to be both a lot of fun and always very rewarding. Many of my clients swear by it as well. Try it. You'll be glad you did!
Page 2 of 2 - Michael Shaw is a certified fitness trainer, sports performance nutrition specialist, owner of Shaw Fitness, a member of the Maryland Advisory Council on Physical Fitness, and a fitness model manager. He can be reached at www.michaelroyshaw.com.