Let’s just get this out of the way: Sweating on the reg doesn’t always translate to tight abs and a toned butt. You could be doing the wrong routine for your body—not that we can blame you: “We’re overwhelmed by new studies, fad workouts, and polarizing noise on social media,” says strength and conditioning coach Michelle Lovitt. “It can be confusing to know what works best for you.”
Christine Miller, 34, lives in New York City, the mecca of boutique fitness, where there’s always a new “it” workout that she just has to try. And when her work schedule or social calendar keeps her from getting to her favorite classes, she manages to squeeze in a treadmill run. “I actually enjoy exercising, and I especially love that it helps me de-stress,” says Christine. “But for all the resources I’m putting into it, I feel like I should actually look like someone who works out! Instead, I have no muscle tone and I always feel kind of puffy.”
Courtesy of Christine Miller
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Even someone as dedicated as Christine needs a specific objective to see change, says Craig Ballantyne, founder of Turbulence Training. In other words, you can’t expect results without articulating what they look like—whether that’s defined abs, the upper-body strength to do a pullup, or being able to run a seven-minute mile.
Once you know what you’re after, you can tailor your à la carte workout schedule to fit that mission rather than just choosing classes on a whim. Say you want to lose weight: “Make sure your weekly workout schedule includes at least three 30-minute body-weight circuits, and then ‘boom!’ goes the fat-burning dynamite,” says Ballantyne.
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• Keep tabs on yourself. If you’re constantly switching up your workouts, log your schedule using an app such as RunKeeper, myWOD, or MyFitnessPal to make sure you’re not overloading on one kind of activity (such as, all core classes or lower-body blasts).
• Have a backup strategy. When you can’t make it to a class, stay on track by having two backup plans: one cardio and one strength. If you were supposed to take a dance class, go for a jog. If boot camp was on the agenda, do pushups, lunges, and other body-weight moves in your living room.
• Play favorites. “I’d go crazy without my Saturday long runs, which I look forward to all week,” says Lovitt. If there’s a workout that doesn’t totally help you hit your goals but does give you a huge endorphin rush, keep it in the mix.
For more real-talk ways to get out of a fitness rut, pick up the April 2015 issue of Women’s Health, on newsstands now.