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Five ways to faster fitness

Updated August 10, 2014


Are you the kind of person who can fix anything from a broken curtain rail to under-cooked rice? Anything that seems impossible is like putty in your hands? If yes, then you probably know that it is wise to work smart and not hard — a mantra that applies as much to fitness as it does to anything else. There are no shortcuts to getting fit and staying fit as working out takes perseverance, consistency and work; but there are smart ways to exercise to get maximum benefits for all your effort.

So if you have been doing gruelling workout sessions for some time now, you should take stock of your workouts and ask yourself if you have been working out smarter or just harder? The idea is to get the most out of every workout, run or trip to the gym.

Here are five ways to exercise smarter so each second that you spend in your sneakers becomes worth the effort.  

There are no shortcuts to fitness but there are ways to get smart about getting fit

  1. Weight lifting at a tempo. The speed at which you lift and lower those weights is very important if you want to get the most out of your workout. For best results, follow the 2-4 count during resistance training. Spend two full seconds when you lift the weight up; and when you return the weight to its start position, take twice as much time — four full seconds. Research shows that exercisers who lower the weight in this slow, controlled manner gain nearly twice the strength as those who don’t spend as much time.
  1. Introduce interval training. Most of us are guilty of logging a lot of mindless miles at the gym when you can get on the elliptical or treadmill, set the level and time and zone out on autopilot. To get the most out of your time, mix in some interval training to boost your calorie burn. Many studies have found that several short bursts of activity in your usual workout will improve fitness and burn fat faster than exercising at one steady moderate pace.

  2. Supersets for super gains. The longer your workout gets, the more the intensity of your workout goes down. One way to maximise your time and get better results is by using supersets. For instance, to do a superset for the chest, do three or more different exercises for that muscle group, back to back, without rest. Do a set of bench presses, followed by a dumbbell chest fly and finish off with a round of push-ups. In a matter of minutes, you’ve blasted your chest and are ready to move on to your next muscle group. Supersets not only cut your workout time in half, they also keep intensity levels high for maximum results.

  3. In tune. Music does have a measurable effect on the strength-training performance so bring along your iPod or MP3 player and crank it up! Download your favourite tunes to get your blood pumping and your spirits high. Motivation to workout makes things easier and gives great results.

  4. Eat right. To achieve your health and fitness goals, working out is one part of the equation; what you eat and drink before and after your exercise session is also important. Before your workout, make sure you’re well hydrated. Nearly every study available shows that exercising when dehydrated will impair your performance. Before your start your workout have a small snack. There are loads of pre-workout snack ideas available on the net. After your workout, you need to refuel your muscles to prepare them for future workouts by eating the right amount of food within 30 to 90 minutes. The right post-workout snack will replenish your glycogen stores more quickly and shorten recovery time — two factors that can tremendously help you achieve optimum results.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, August 10th, 2014