Workouts that work

Looking to get buff before you’re a bride by heading to the gym? Your workouts might not be as effective as you think.
Dec. 13, 2010 | By: Alison Dunn

You’ve been heading to the gym diligently a few times a week trying to look great in your wedding dress, but you’re still not seeing results? It turns out you might be wasting your time.

By doing the same workout all the time, your body eventually gets used to it and you just won’t be working hard enough, says Paul Plakas, a fitness specialist and star of Slice Network’s X-Weighted.

“The human body is designed to be lazy,” he says. “It’s all about conserving energy, so it takes a mentally strong person to push themselves to the point of exhaustion. That’s why the fittest people in the world are professional athletes and Olympians. They take their bodies to levels the average person would never dream of doing.”

And while that’s not easy, if you don’t keep pushing yourself, you will definitely plateau, Plakas says. “It’s hard to do, but if you’re patient, you get used to the discomfort,” Plakas says. And, more importantly, you’ll start seeing real results.

How can you make your workouts more effective and look smoking hot on your wedding day? Plakas offers these tips to bust out of your workout rut:

Combine strength training and cardio. Research shows that the most effective method of weight loss is to do a combination of strength training and cardiovascular workouts. That means it’s better to do a combination than to just run, bike, or hit the weight machines without doing anything else. The key is to expend a lot of calories, Plakas says. He recommends doing full-body circuits with free weights, linking one exercise after the other without rest. (For demos of full body circuits, check out Plakas’ “Bodcasts.”)

Change the workload. Eventually, your body will adapt to any form of exercise, so Plakas recommends you change your workload as you go. Say, for example, you usually do 15 pushups. Try doing inverted pushups (feet raised slightly above the head), or changing your arm position to make pushups harder. Whatever you do, keep challenging yourself to reach new heights.

Buddy up. Grab a partner and work out with someone else, Plakas recommends. You might find that you work harder than usual just having someone else with you. “I know for myself, if I work out with a friend, I push myself more than I would on my own,” he says. “I push myself pretty hard, but I always go a little extra when someone is with me. They spot me, or get me to do an extra rep or two.”

Try something new. Don’t just change the workload of your exercise; try to change up your workout itself from time to time. For example, if you usually run, why not try biking or a boot camp class to shock your body a bit? Just make sure you’re working out at the same intensity as before, Plakas warns. You can’t go from an intensive boot camp-style workout to a gentle yoga class and expect the same results.

For five seasons, Paul Plakas has been assessing and analyzing the fitness of participants on Slice Network’s X-Weighted. Plakas has been a personal trainer for 18 years, working with all levels of fitness, from the totally sedentary to the professional athlete. Plakas is co-founder of Custom Fit, an Edmonton based team of fitness professionals, and creator of The i3 Workout exercise video. To learn more about Paul and watch his online “bodcasts,” visit http://www.paulplakas.com/.

Looking to get in shape before the big day? Find health and fitness services on iDoo.ca, Canada’s Local Marriage Services Directory.

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