If you’re looking to get a jump on your fitness routine before summer, you’re not alone. Spring seems to be the ideal time to strip off the winter layers and get focused on your physique.
But with family, work, friends and everything else that seems to get in the way of working out, you might be putting your health on the back burner. The good news is you don’t have to carve out hours in the gym in order to tone up.
We talked with fitness expert, founder and CEO of the and/life mobile app, Andrea Marcellus, about her game-changing ways to get toned that require way less time and effort than you think.
Stop sitting so much.
“No matter how hard you work out, even high-intensity exercise sessions do not cancel out the negative impact of sitting for over eight hours each day,” Marcellus says. Instead of spending the majority of your day with your backside in a chair, incorporate a few simple habits into your daily lifestyle to see results.
For example, she suggests walking 20 minutes once or twice a day or standing for 60 to 90 minutes as you take care of things you would normally do sitting. Consistency is the key, and if you’re struggling with keeping track of how often you’re moving (or not moving), try using a fitness tracker on your phone or watch. Marcellus says this can make all the difference in helping you turn good intentions into a bona fide life-changing habit.
Eat until you're satisfied—not until you’re full.
We can’t talk about getting toned without also addressing nutrition. Whether you like it or not, the choices you make in the kitchen have a direct impact on your health and the shape of your body.
“When you’re eating in proper portions, you’re meeting the energy requirements needed to sustain you, and if you’re full, you’ve gone beyond what your body needs to fuel itself,” Marcellus says.
In addition to avoiding that stuffed feeling, think about approaching your eating with the 80/20 philosophy: 80 percent of your day is made up of the core nutritional building blocks, and the other 20 percent is to be used at your discretion. For the majority of your meals, aim for lean protein, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. This will help you eliminate processed foods and added sugar, both of which can make getting toned particularly difficult.
Exercise in your everyday clothes.
If you often feel too busy to workout, consider changing your approach to fitness and breaking it down into smaller, focused chunks that can be done pretty much anywhere.
For example, consider taking five minutes during your day to do five of your favorite exercises for one minute each—you can even do them at the office. Marcellus recommends doing the following five-minute, total-body boost every day for one week to see results:
• Push-ups: These can be regular push-ups or you can do them on your knees, against a counter, desk or wall.
• Squats: Squat down like you’re about to sit into a chair, then stand back up.
• Step Out Jumping Jacks: Start with feet together, and perform only the arm motion of a jumping jack, with one foot stepping out to the side, one at a time.
• Back Lunge to Knee-Up: Step back into a lunge and then stand back up again, bringing your knee all the way up to your chest. Perform for 30 seconds on your right leg and then switch.
• Standing Cat to Swan: Keeping your arms straight, stand in front of your desk or counter and round your back as you exhale completely. On an inhale, straighten your back through neutral to a gentle arc while pulling your hips forward. Repeat five times.
Introduce high-intensity training to your day.
High-intensity interval training increases the intensity of the workout without increasing the volume. Think of it this way: If you’re trying to squeeze exercise into your busy week and you need to focus on quality, high-intensity is the way to go. You can work out in less time and still get the calorie-crushing benefits.
Need a fun high-intensity workout idea that will help you get toned? Take your exercise outdoors by finding a nearby hill that is appropriate for your fitness level. Shorter, moderately steep hills are appropriate for beginners and intermediates, while longer and steeper hills are better suited for advanced levels.
Walk or run up to the top of the hill and stop. Do 10 push-ups, lunges or squats. Beginners might want to simply pause at the top for a minute after completing their set of 10, and then walk or run back down. Repeat 6 to 8 times, choosing a different exercise each time.
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