Achieving our fitness #goals is not about picking a routine and sticking to it for life. First, our bodies need different things not only at different stages of our lives, but if we are female, we might need different workouts at different times of the month.
We need restorative work, and high intensity. Low impact, and heavy weights. It’s like feeding the gut diverse foods; we need to feed our muscles diverse movement. Here are some of our favorite modes to stay well rounded, er … toned and tightened.
Cardio work is crucial for heart health, and raising our heartbeat also helps us to break a sweat, detox, and burn fat. HIIT, which stands for high-intensity interval training, is just what it sounds like. You do intervals of different exercises with little to no rest in between exercises, only resting briefly between sets. For example, you might do 45 seconds of jump squats, rest for 15 seconds, move on to burpees for 45 seconds with a 15-second rest, dive into mountain climbers … you get it.
Running is another great way to achieve cardio, break a sweat, and raise the heart rate, but it’s not always as friendly on the joints for everyone. HIIT is a happy, fat-burning medium that is perfect for early in the morning when you need an effective workout to squeeze into less time, plus there are targeted toning benefits for the whole body– that’s efficiency. Premenopausal women can do lots of this during the follicular and ovulatory phases when energy levels are high.
Low impact and restorative, yoga is a great workout for a full-body stretch. It helps to lengthen muscles, but it can still provide major toning benefits. Improve flexibility, lung health, brain health, emotional health, and balance and carve out those abs all while hardly breaking a sweat (unless it’s hot yoga, then drench that towel). This is perfect for the menstrual time or PMS, when we need more restorative, low-impact movement.
Many men tend to think of Pilates as a feminine workout, so they steer clear. However, Pilates was designed as an intensive rehabilitation exercise regimen for wounded soldiers after WWI, and it’s no dainty walk in the park.
Mat Pilates consists of tiny, isometric movements that may not look like much, but they burn. That’s because we are repeatedly moving tiny muscles that strengthen small hidden bundles of fibers. Reformer or Lagree Pilates is definitely more intense and requires a special reformer machine that adds weight and intense resistance to these workouts. Both forms create that lean, elongated, model-fit look that is super toned, but not bulky.
It may sound boring, but a brisk walk is not to be overlooked in any fitness routine. It’s great as a warmup, it’s great as a cooldown, and it’s great just to trigger some good digestion after a large meal. Walking is a low-impact way to get some mild cardio and boost circulation and lymphatic drainage without putting strain on the joints, like running can. With a little uphill incline, it can help build glute muscles for that strong, round butt we keep squatting for in our HIIT and Pilates workouts!
While similar to walking, hiking is a bit more involved. We can definitely count on the natural inclines to help us build a booty (and thighs, and calves, and lower abs), but it’s also a little more mindful. Rather than one foot in front of the other on smooth pavement, it requires a little intuitive movement with nature. These movements—juking, jumping, stepping over rocks and uneven terrain—train smaller muscles in our feet, legs, and core, and keep our minds stimulated and present.
We don’t necessarily mean hand-to-hand combat, here. A great kickboxing class with a punching bag is a superb way to train arms and to really strengthen the core and obliques. The impact and the swiveling and rotation keep the core tight and mobile, absorbing shock and building some ultimate strength. It’s also a great way to get in some cardio. Mix up boxing with yoga and walking to keep things lean and loose.
Low impact, but still exhaustively sweaty. Weight training workouts are designed for targeted strengthening and pair well with cardio like running, elliptical, or brisk walking, followed by stretching or yoga. This is where intentional carving of the muscles happens, and planning training days around which muscles you want to work is crucial. Post-menopausal women should definitely not be afraid to incorporate more weight training into their workouts to prevent bone loss; weight training is excellent for bone density health.
A workout for both the body and mind, dancing is a great way to warm up, or cool down, or just simply move. The free movement of the body has major toning and mood-boosting benefits and aids in circulation, blood pressure, lymphatic flow, and a healthy glow. Try a class or a guided dance video, or just free-flail in your living room to your favorite high-energy playlist to feel and look good, all over.
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