Staying fit and strong takes daily dedication so when you find you need a boost to keep your confidence moving along in the process, keep these 102 tips in mind!
- Take the first five minutes of your run to warm up. Go a little slower to work out the kinks and mentally prepare for your run.
- Learn to breathe deeply to maximize your oxygen input.
- If you're trying to run at a certain speed, use music to set your pace.
- Run with someone faster than you to push you to increase your speed or distance. It could be a workout buddy, a stranger on the treadmill at the gym, or that runner just up the trail from you.
- Run faster up hills by focusing on the top of the hill, not your feet. It'll help open your airways, and when it's easier to breathe, it's easier to run.
- Raise the incline on the treadmill to increase your calorie burn. A five percent incline will burn almost 100 more calories, so pump it up!
- Switch up your route or workout every time you run to keep your muscles guessing and to beat boredom; run your outside loop backward.
- Don't run every day. Vary your cardio to prevent overuse injuries and to strengthen other muscles.
- Work on your running form to avoid pain or injuries.
- To avoid injury when increasing your mileage, follow the 10 percent rule: never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent of the previous week.
- On longer runs, aim to have a negative split. The second half of your run should be faster than the first to avoid bonking and to finish strong.
- Running outside not only boosts your mood, but the uneven terrain, especially when trail running, requires more balance, agility, and coordination, which makes your muscles work harder.
- Don't skip the cooldown — it preps your body for your next workout! Do a postrun stretching sequence to target the hips, hamstrings, and lower back.
- Push yourself to go five extra minutes — you'll burn close to 50 calories more.
- Burn more calories on the elliptical. Turn up the resistance and aim for 140 to 160 strides per minute (SPM). Pull and push the handles to work your upper body; go backward, pushing into your heels to target your glutes and hamstrings; and challenge your core by pumping the arms without holding on.
- Intervals aren't just for running! Aside from reducing belly fat, they also build endurance and increase your speed. Do sprinting bursts during all types of cardio, whether you're cycling, jumping rope, dancing, or swimming — it also works for all types of cardio machines.
- HIIT (high-intensity interval training) burns tons of calories in a short amount of time. Try Tabata, which combines 20 seconds of intense bursts of activity with 10 seconds of rest in four-minute rounds.
- Mix up cardio machines within a workout to target different muscles and keep your workout exciting.
- Combine strength training and cardio into one workout for serious metabolic conditioning.
- Do a light cardio warmup before strength training to help prevent injury and post-workout soreness.
- Proper form is more important than number of reps; use a mirror to check your form.
- If you want to see results faster, do at least three strength-training sessions per week.
- Save time and burn more calories by doing supersets, working opposing muscle groups back-to-back, and moving quickly from one exercise to the next without resting.
- Don't just lift dumbbells. Explore all types of equipment including resistance bands, kettlebells, stability balls, medicine balls, and barbells, as well as moves that require no equipment.
- Bodyweight exercises are shown to burn more calories than moves that use dumbbells — think full-body exercises like push-ups vs. bench presses.
- Work harder by creating instability. Stand on one leg, or balance on a BOSU ball or stability ball while doing strength-training moves.
- Multitask! Don't just stand there doing bicep curls when you could be doing squats to tone your lower body at the same time.
- Play with speed to keep your muscles guessing. Lift slowly and lower quickly, or pause in the middle of the rep.
- Keep two to three different-sized dumbbells on hand so you can reach for heavier weights when working larger muscle groups.
- Add more weight as you progress. Your muscles should feel fatigued within two reps of the number called for in your program. If they are not, increase the dumbbell weight by two or three pounds.
- Keep things balanced and work your back as much as you work your abs to keep your entire core strong.
- Treadmills aren't just for running. Slow down the speed and try these calorie-burning strength-training moves.
- Take rest days! If you did arms Monday, do legs Tuesday. Rest days allow your muscles time to heal and get stronger.
- Yoga should never hurt. Push your muscles to the point of being worked, not overstretched.
- Deep and even inhalations and exhalations should be your main focus. Use your breath to guide your movements and to know how long to hold poses. Move at your own pace — it's OK to go out of sync with the rest of the class.
- Your soft drishti (focused gaze) is important. It relaxes the mind and helps you stay balanced in challenging poses.
- In standing poses like Warrior 1 and Fierce, make a mental note to relax the toes. Clenching the mat for dear life puts unnecessary strain on the feet.
- Borrowing a mat for your first class is fine, but after that, it's time to buy your own yoga mat to reduce your exposure to germs and bacteria.
- Bring a hand towel to wipe sweat from your face and to place on the top of your mat to prevent slippage.
- Wear capris or pants. The fabric will absorb more sweat and will also make arm-balancing poses easier (slippery skin-on-skin contact is dangerous!).
- It's OK to speak up if an instructor's adjustment is hurting you or if you don't want to be touched at all.
- Do Chaturanga push-ups to work your triceps even more during vinyasas and Sun Salutations.
- Choose faster-paced styles of yoga such as Ashtanga or Vinyasa to burn more calories while also getting a good stretch.
- To avoid getting sick, clean off machines and equipment before you use them. Even though the person before you is supposed to do it, they may have forgotten.
- Don't trust the calorie count on the machines. Use a heart rate monitor for more accuracy.
- Since class descriptions are often vague, watch a fitness class before you take it to avoid having to walk out of a class you don't like or that's too advanced for your fitness level.
- Try out different instructors to find one who challenges and motivates you the most.
- Preregister for classes when available to save time before class.
- Show up for a class at least five minutes early to get a good spot, shake off any stress from the day, and chat with the instructor if you need to let them know you have an injury.
- Whether you're a newbie or a seasoned exerciser, anyone can benefit from a session with a personal trainer. Schedule one every few months to ensure you're continuing with proper form and to learn new moves to keep your fire for fitness alive.
- To ensure your shoelaces don't come undone during your workout (which could be bad news when using gym equipment), watch this video to find out the best way to tie your shoes.
- Wear your exercise clothes underneath your everyday or work outfit if possible. Not only will it save you time in the locker room, but if you're already wearing your sports bra and capris, you're less likely to skip that noon SoulCycle class.
- If you're doing an early morning workout, some experts say it's OK to run on an empty stomach. But if you're doing a longer workout, fuel up with some protein and simple carbs, such as half a banana and a handful of almonds.
- Studies show that a little bit of caffeine can help improve your stamina, strength, and speed, so sip on a small cup of coffee before working out.
- For workouts later in the day, make sure to eat a meal or snack one to two hours before a workout that focuses on carbs and a little protein.
- It's essential to hydrate before a workout. Drink about 15 to 20 ounces of water.
- To prevent cramps while working out, sip on small amounts of water instead of gulping it down.
- Sugary sports drinks aren't necessary unless you've been exercising intensely for over an hour. So for shorter workouts, rehydrate with water or coconut water.
- To replenish lost energy while also helping worked muscles repair, eat a 150-calorie post-workout snack within 30 minutes after your workout. Aim for a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein.
- Chocolate milk makes an excellent recovery drink because it not only follows this ratio, but also offers calcium needed to strengthen bones and muscles.
- Shop for workout sneakers later in the day (when your feet are at their largest) to ensure a proper fit.
- You do not need to break in running shoes — they should feel comfortable the moment you run in them. Don't feel shy about running around in the store to test them out.
- Write the date you bought your sneakers on the inside of the tongue. After 300 to 500 miles, replace them with a new pair — so pay attention to your weekly and monthly mileage.
- Choose gear based on your needs, not on style. If you're running on the road, don't choose a pair of trail runners just because you like how they look.
- Test out workout gear in the dressing room before you buy it. Run in place to see how the fabric moves with you, do a Down Dog to make sure your boobs don't fall out of your top, and of course, do a wide straddle in front of the mirror to avoid purchasing see-through leggings.
- Wicking gear is a must to keep you dry and prevent chafing, so skip the cotton (including undies), and choose fabrics that breathe and pull moisture away from the skin.
- Never wear two sports bras! If you're in need of greater support, find a company, like Moving Comfort, that caters to larger-chested women.
- Since you probably don't own a sports bra for every day of the week you work out, while taking your post-workout shower, hand wash your sports bra and hang it on the rod to dry for tomorrow.
- Once you find a sneaker, sports bra, or top you love, stock up! You can break it out as soon as the original is on its way out.
- Inspect your fitness gear every so often for safety and effectiveness. An exercise band that has a tear or worn-out sneaks are an injury waiting to happen.
- Splurge on an expensive yoga mat like the Manduka Black Mat Pro. It won't break down like cheaper mats and has a lifetime warranty, so you'll only need to buy one mat.
Workouts and Weight Loss
- You can't spot-reduce fat from a certain area, like your belly — you have to work all areas in order to see a difference in how your body looks.
- Exercise in the morning; research shows that morning exercisers burn more calories, possibly because that's when your body's energy is at its peak.
- Do 60-minute heart-pumping cardio workouts five times a week if your goal is to lose weight.
- Intervals are proven to reduce belly fat and rev up metabolism; instead of running at the same pace for the entire workout, alternate between periods of pushing your body to the max and periods of recovery.
- Muscle mass burns more calories than fat, so strength training is a must if you want to drop pounds. Include at least three 30-minute sessions each week, making sure to work every part of your body.
- Short on time? The average person burns 400 calories in 20 minutes when doing kettlebell exercises.
- Find ways to fit fitness in during your workday to burn some extra calories. Climb the stairs to use the bathroom on a different floor of your office building, take a walk during conference calls, and instead of sitting on a chair, sit on a stability ball or use a standing desk.
- Can't fit in one regular workout? Break it up and squeeze in one of these 10-minute workouts three or four times a day.
- Just because you went for a run doesn't mean you can eat an ice cream sundae and fries afterward. Fuel yourself appropriately, whether it's with a 150-calorie snack or 400- to 500-calorie meal that's complete with veggies, fruit, protein, and whole grains.
- Get everything ready the night before, including your outfit, headphones, gym bag, and yoga mat — whatever you need.
- On Sunday night, plan out the week's workouts. Make fitness dates, find the yoga class that fits your schedule, and print out a new strength-training workout. Once they're planned out, write them down to make them official appointments you cannot skip.
- Keep a fitness journal or calendar, and write down every workout you do, so you can look back and see how far you've come. Or if you've been skipping workouts, seeing blank pages will help motivate you to get back on the fitness train.
- Make a morning motivation jar to inspire a little fitness when you hop out of bed.
- Pay for gym memberships or personal-training sessions ahead of time so you're more likely to follow through.
- Have workout-only music, books on tape, and Netflix shows you watch. If you're binge-watching last season's Orange Is the New Black, you'll be psyched to get back on the treadmill to catch the next episode.
- Post your fitness life to social media, whether it's sweaty workout selfies, gym rants, or a pic of some new gear. Comments from friends and family are sure to encourage you to stay on the fit path.
- Write motivational quotes on sticky notes and put them anywhere you need them — on your bathroom mirror, on the fridge, in your car, or on your computer monitor.
- Leave workout gear around your house, such as dumbbells by the TV or an unrolled yoga mat on the floor of your bedroom, for in-your-face reminders to fit in a little fitness whenever you can.
- Sign up for a race. Having to follow a training schedule will give you the push you need to get in a workout.
- Not into racing? Look deep to find a meaningful personal goal that alone will keep you motivated to work out.
- Monitor your workouts with a fitness tracker (like a Fitbit), a basic pedometer, or a fitness app (like Nike+). They can help nudge you when you're on the fence about working out, and they can also push you to work out harder.
- Put a dollar in a jar every time you work out and at the end of the month, reward yourself with a healthy surprise.
Recovery and Injury Prevention
- Never stretch before a cardio workout; save it for after when your muscles are warm and pliable.
- If you're short on time, do these stretches during your hot post-workout shower.
- Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the achy feeling your body experiences 24 to 48 hours after a strenuous workout. You can tell it's not an injury because you'll feel it on both sides of the body.
- Self-massage your stiff, overtrained muscles by using a foam roller.
- For aches and pains, it's important to know when to ice and when to apply heat, so check out this helpful chart.
- Prevent common running injuries by strengthening weak areas — glutes, shins, core.
- To prevent shin splints on a treadmill, raise the incline to at least one percent — better yet, two.
- To prevent plantar fasciitis, do this seated foot stretch.
- Rest days are essential for three reasons. They give your body time to repair and get stronger, help prevent injury, and offer you a mental break.
Hopefully you've got more than enough here to keep you moving forward in your journey!