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Friday, December 31, 2010

Alternatives to Dumbbells and Stationary Bikes

originally published 2009 by John Kuzora

If you bore yourself to death walking on a treadmill or pushing weights up and down, we have the answer you need to breathe new life into your workout routine. Our personal training studio specializes in unconventional yet highly effective alternatives to traditional workout routines.

Typically, people view working out as something they have to do. We strive to make working out something you want to do. To accomplish this, we use specific exercise tools and techniques to keep workouts fun and productive.

For example, as an alternative to traditional cardiovascular workouts which usually consist of a steady, boring hour walking on a treadmill or pedaling on a stationary bike, we do General Physical Preparedness workouts. These workouts consist of short bursts of cardiovascular exercise alternated with bodyweight calisthenics and low intensity plyometrics. A workout structured in this manner will consistently challenge both the mind and body.

Another important factor in getting results from your workout routine is variety. Any workout done more than four or five times loses is effectiveness. The body adapts to the stress and the mind grows bored with the stimulus. This is a surefire recipe for failure and one of the main reasons people don't last long on an exercise program. They do the same workout over and over again, and the progress they initially noticed grinds to a halt. In our studio, we use medicine balls, kettlebells, jump stretch bands, and even sandbags to provide the variety needed for continual progress.

Another primary factor that determines the effectiveness of an exercise program is the structure of components within the workout. The proper placement of the strength, cardio, flexibility, and stability portions is of tremendous importance.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is to stretch before they workout. Stretching is a passive activity. It calms the mind and the nervous system. To jump from a static stretching routine right into a weight or treadmill workout is asking for injury.

A more effective approach is to begin a workout with a general warm-up consisting of 5-10 minutes of low intensity cardiovascular training. This should be followed up by some muscle activation movements and dynamic flexibility work for tight muscle groups.

After the warm-up, high skill activities should be performed while the mind and body are still fresh. These activities include dynamic stability work, compound weight training movements, and high intensity plyometric drills. Once these are completed, you should move on to exercises that target specific problem areas on your body. This segment might include some elements of yoga or Pilates and single joint exercises performed with dumbbells, rubber bands, or exercise machines.

In addition, cardiovascular training should always be done after weight training. Performing your cardio after a weight workout is far more effective than doing it first. When you begin exercising, your body will use stored sugars and carbohydrates as a fuel source before tapping into body fat. By doing a weight workout first, you deplete stored carbohydrates before ever stepping on the treadmill. This burns significantly more fat than if you do cardio first.

After you have finished your cardio, we suggest some easy stretching to cool down. You need to gently bring your body from an excited state to a relaxed condition, and easy static stretching is the perfect way to do this.