7 Ways to Get Lean and Fit Faster

Shape.com—June 15, 2012

It’s no secret that getting in great shape takes time and effort. After all, if every quick fix, late-night infomercial claim were true, we'd all have perfect bodies. The good news is you can take steps to speed up your results. One proven strategy: Change your routine every six or so weeks. Your muscles adapt to the same workout day after day (think back to your first bootcamp class and how much easier it got as you became stronger). Challenge your body by adding a new angle, mixing up the order of your exercises, or simply adding a twist to recruit different muscles.

Here are expert tips to upgrade your workout.

1. Dynamic Warm-Up

"Dynamic, full-body warm-ups take your body through a variety of movements, allowing you to increase circulation to the muscles you'll be using in your main workout," says Polly de Mille, RN, RCEP, CSCS, exercise physiologist at the Women's Sports Medicine Center at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Try this move before your next workout for a total-body warm-

2. One-Legged Moves

Developing single-leg stability is a powerful tool in preventing injury, particularly in sports such as running, de Mille says. "In running you're essentially jumping from one leg to another. Shaky single-leg stability leads to loss of alignment every time you land—a perfect setup for injury."

3. Off-Center Moves

"Practicing off-center moves in a focused, controlled manner helps develop the core stability necessary to maintain good alignment when performing these movements in real life," de Mille says.

4. Add Twists and Turns

More than 85 percent of the muscles encircling your core are oriented either diagonally or horizontally and have rotation as one of their functions," de Mille says. "Yet most people focus on one vertical muscle—the rectus abdominis, the 'six pack' muscle."

5. Raise the Incline

No, we’re not referring to the treadmill. By raising the position of the bench while performing chest presses, you add variety, which in itself may elicit strength gains, de Mille says. "Your body adapts to the stress you apply to it, so variety is key to gaining overall functional fitness."

Read the full story at Shape.com.

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