5 Secrets to a Better Workout

To get ripped, you have to hit the gym – hard. Let's face it, some days are just harder than others. Jillian Michaels shares her tips for improving your workout.

Some people assume that I just love to work out. Wrong! I’ll be the first to admit it, working out really sucks sometimes. But it’s a necessary evil — and one I’ve come to appreciate to get the physical and emotional results it brings. Whether it’s playing with the settings on the treadmill to keep me entertained or switching things up with a boot camp class, I have my own tricks for staying motivated to get through my workout. Next time you are bored with your routine or want to rev things up, give them a shot.

  1. Kick Up Your Cardio

    The key to consistently challenging your body is to keep it guessing. When it comes to cardio, this is incredibly easy to do. You can create interval sets like walking on a steep incline for two minutes, then run on a flat level for one minute. Or jog for two minutes, sprint for one minute. You can also try running and jogging in quarter-mile bursts. Depending on your fitness level, any of these interval workouts will help you bump your calorie burn.

    Just be sure that you’re always keeping your heart rate at 85 percent of your maximum. To calculate your maximum heart rate, if you’re a woman, subtract your age from 220. If you’re a man, subtract your age from 226. That number is your maximum heart rate in beats per minute.

  2. Switch It Up

    If you don’t know by now, I HATE the treadmill. It’s torture — I can only play with intervals and inclines for so many days a week. On the other days, I get my cardio fix by mixing things up. Adding variety into your routine forces your body to progress because you're physically requiring it to adapt to new stimulus. So take a boxing, Cross Fit, barre method, Zumba® or dance, yoga, kettlebells or spinning class. Better yet, try a different one every week if you can. By training in different ways, your body becomes more efficient, well rounded, and less prone to injury. So break out of your comfort zone and try something new. Bring a friend with you if you’re intimidated!

  3. Sweat In Style

    I’m all about the laid-back look, like jeans and cute tees, but when it comes to gym gear — nothing gets me pumped up like a cool new pair of kicks. Investing in stylish, comfortable clothes and killer kicks can really amp up the enthusiasm for dragging yourself to the gym. So what if you’re there to show off your hot, new gear. You’re still working it on the elliptical, and that’s all I care about.

  4. Trick Your Bod

    Your body quickly adapts to the number of repetitions you perform. This is why changing your repetitions on a weekly basis will help you improve the effectiveness of your workouts. First you need to calculate your one-rep maximum, or the maximum amount of weight you can lift once, and still do it properly. With that number, use this quick four-week plan as a guide:

    Week 1: Do 3 sets of 20 repetitions at 40 percent of your maximum repetition.

    Week 2: Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions at 55 percent of your maximum repetition.

    Week 3: Do 4 sets of 10 repetitions at 70 percent of your maximum repetition.

    Week 4: Do 2 sets of 5 repetitions at 90 percent of your maximum repetition.

    By the end of four weeks, your maximum repetition may have changed and you can continue to work off of this pyramid method to continue to challenge your muscles.

  5. Get Techie

    These days, there are a lot of new products that make working out more fun. Here are a few of my favorites.

    Sennheiser CX680 Adidas Sport Headphones

    I need music to work out, but sometimes when I run, the smaller earbuds easily fall out of my ears, which annoys the crap out of me. The solution? These headphones — they’re waterproof AND they hook into your ears so they stay put. They’re also designed for intense, active workouts — so they can handle some serious wear and tear.

    Kinect

    X-Box Kinect is a camera that picks up your entire body — so you don’t have to worry about controllers. It fully monitors your form and everything you’re doing. If you’re going to invest in a video-game fitness console, this takes the cake. It’s a great way to exercise with your kids as well. They get to play their games, but you’re getting them to work out at the same time. A little bit deceptive, but 100 percent effective.

    The Ultimate Watch

    This website is awesome: ActiveWatches.com. It helps you find the perfect watch, specific to the sport that you’re playing, and it also takes into consideration all of the features you’re looking for.

    BodyMedia FIT Armband Device

    The BodyMedia FIT armband is an amazing weight-loss tool. It is an armband that gives you highly accurate information on the number of calories you burn throughout the day, and it also tracks the quality of your sleep — which is an important factor in weight loss — and nutrition and workout data. I love the easy-to-use food log that this device offers. Learn more about the device and how you can use it with my online program.

So you get the drill. When it comes to working out, try to keep things new and fresh. If you’re consistently doing the same workout, your routine will start to feel stale —fast. So switch it up and style it up. After all that, you might actually want to go to the gym.

Want some extra TLC?

Working out is great, but if you really want results — you need daily support, motivation, and a personalized plan to keep you on track. Join Jillian and get everything you need!

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