Going to the gym but looking no better? You're doing it wrong
01 Exercise when you feel like it People have very mixed ideas about the optimum time of day to work out. While it is true that you burn a lot more calories if you exercise in the morning before breakfast, not a lot of people can do that. I strongly feel that you should exercise when you want to – only when you feel ready. You’ll get more out of a training session if you do it at whatever hour of the day suits your personal mindset.
02 Mix it up To ensure you don’t get bored, keep alternating your exercise. If you do the same type of sport or workout every day, the same muscles will get really sore and fatigued. Try a few different programmes at your local gym. If you’re specifically looking to improve your fitness, circuit training is definitely the best class to do. This keeps you constantly challenged and is the perfect way to build your strength, stamina and endurance. Any of the more athletic sports, such as running, cycling and rowing, are especially good for improving fitness levels.
03 Keep it sweet Eat something sugary directly after a workout in order to replace your blood’s glycogen storage. If you don’t, your body will start to burn muscle instead. But make sure you don’t eat anything overly sugary, like a cereal bar. The two biggest things to look out for on food packets are saturated fat and sugar – if these two things are high, stay away from them. Instead look for high unsaturated fat, protein and carbohydrate contents. Bananas are a great source of energy before a work out, as are almonds, apples, and, again, sugary things to boost your system.
04 Change terrain It’s much more challenging to exercise outside than on a treadmill or inside a gym. There’s more mixed terrain, which pushes your endurance levels harder. Change the ground you’re working on by venturing outside (although try to go out only after 6pm during the summer). If you cycle, try hillier areas and start climbing more; if you run, try heading across grass or sand.
05 Learn the lingo Once you’ve found a friend (or friends) to work out with, encourage each other during sessions by using the right lingo for whichever exercise you’re doing. If it’s cycling, tell them to ‘pump their pistons!’, if it’s football, tell them to ‘stick a foot in!’ The right motivational words give people that extra energy boost. But don’t push them to their utmost limit, instead just aim to keep them going – so they either finish off the set of exercises they’re working on or reach a certain target.
06 Sweat to a soundtrack Listening to ‘beefy’ beats will make you work harder than listening to chilled out, ambient tunes. Make an iPod playlist filled with high bpms to match your heart beat, as well as tempo changes to encourage you to subconsciously change your pace and therefore heart rate. Make sure they’re new, rhythmic songs. Listening to songs that you like will give you more energy and drive.
07 Floor it If you can’t face the gym, the number one exercise to do at home is push-ups, closely followed by tricep dips. Everyone has a floor, so why not use it? Even if you’re a home bunny, you can easily keep up push-ups and tricep abdominals as well as basic stretching.
08 Pound the malls In Dubai we’re spoilt, with huge air-conditioned malls to power walk around as we shop. Try quick browsing sessions: hit 15 shops for two minutes each, searching in each for one particular thing. Do a lap of the mall before buying whatever you want, so that you earn it (after making sure there’s plenty of whatever you want left). Park your car far away from the shops, so you walk further. Try not to take the elevators. If your shopping’s not too heavy, carry it to your car yourself instead of getting any help. But make sure you’re wearing appropriate sport shoes, instead of heels or sandals.
09 Divide and conquer Whatever the time of year, you should work out at least three times a week, with one on-day, one off-day, one on-day and so on. But be careful not to over-exercise. If you want to train more than three times a week, split your body into different sections (not literally, of course). Focus on your upper body one day, with push-ups, tricep dips and abdominal exercises, then your lower body the next, with lunges, leg extensions, basic squats and leg curls.
10 Don’t juice it Only drink juice if you’ve just finished training and need to replace lost blood sugar. Juice is not something to drink instead of water, as you’ll take in excessive amounts of sugar and then not burn it up. Instead, make sure you drink at least three litres of water a day. If you’re training outside in the heat, bump that up to five litres. You can alternate that with hydrated drinks like Isostar or Gatorade, but just not juices or fizzy drinks. For more advice on personal fitness training and the right group classes for you, check out www.fitnessfirst.ae or call them on 04 358 0443.