5 Exercise Habits You Should Steal From Her

Walk like a man, work out like a woman. These gym lessons from the ladies will improve your core strength, flexibility, and overall athleticism

 

Become a better man by acting more like a lady—in your workout, that is. Your weight routine serves a certain purpose, but your pursuit of sleeve-busting muscles might come at the cost of other activities that can improve your fitness. “In many gyms around the country, Monday is still National Bench Day, followed by back and bis and then legs and tris,” says David Jack, director of Teamworks Fitness in Acton, MA. “When we’re in those routines, we rarely perform exercises that use other planes of movement in the body. Women are generally more open to trying new exercises and moving in different ways.”

Instead of getting stuck in an exercise Groundhog Day, steal a number from the ladies’ book and adopt the following five fitness habits. You’ll get stronger, recover quicker, and tap into the total-body conditioning you need to unleash a more athletic body—and get noticed by the fairer sex.

1. On a “Rest” Day

She: Never misses Saturday morning yoga

You: Roll over and go back to sleep

Many men think yoga is more of a nap than a workout, but before you pooh-pooh low-impact exercise, consider this: Regularly including yoga or Pilates will help improve your core strength, flexibility, and circulation, so you’ll walk taller and recover quicker after a strenuous workout, says strength and conditioning specialist Todd Durkin, owner of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego and author of The IMPACT! Body Plan. Find strength in numbers, and grab a buddy or tag along with your girlfriend to Pilates class one weekend. Just make sure to sign up for a beginner’s class and gauge your skill level from there—the coordination involved is more challenging than you’d think.

2. After a Workout

She: Spends 10 minutes getting lean and limber

You: Finish your set and head straight to the showers

Instead of hitting the locker room immediately after an intense workout, take the time to stretch. “Stretching is like flossing—it takes no time but is a pain in the butt, and we tend to skip it, especially men,” says Jennifer Widerstrom, NASM certified fitness and celebrity trainer at Pulse Fitness Studios in Los Angeles. Women are much better at warming up before and cooling down after exercise, she notes. As with yoga and Pilates, stretching improves your flexibility and increases your range of motion. So even if you don’t feel tight post-workout, take at least 10 minutes to stretch your whole body. Pay a little extra attention to your hip flexors, hamstrings, lower back, chest, and shoulders, in addition to the body parts you trained that day.

3. Your Go-to Routine

She: Beelines for the elliptical when she hits the gym

You: Stick to the weight room

Don’t be among the guys who are too busy pumping iron to pump up their heart health—include at least 20 minutes of cardio, three times a week in your exercise routine. If men center their workout regimen on weights, women tend to gravitate towards cardio, says Durkin. Running and cycling might not help you sculpt a more chiseled chest or get bigger biceps, but a hard session will blast fat and relieve stress. Adding a little cardio doesn’t ball-and-chain you to the treadmill, either. If the old aerobic standbys sound like a snooze, enroll in a boot camp class or play a pick-up basketball game, instead. They’re great ways to shake up your regular routine and keep your muscles guessing.

4. Keeping Score

She: Meticulously tracks her heart rate during runs

You: Figure that if you’re sweating, it’s good enough

If you’re keeping track of your sets, reps, and weights, it’s about time to start paying attention to your heart rate as well. “I find that women are more likely to wear heart rate monitors than men. It’s good to know what heart rate you’re training at and to see how many calories you’re burning,” says Durkin. That way you’ll not only be able to estimate fat loss, but also chart improvements in how efficiently your heart is working. The stronger your heart, the easier it’ll be to run, and a heart rate monitor is the most accurate measure of your cardiovascular fitness. Keeping tabs on your heart rate helps you avoid under- and over-training when prepping for a race and often is a better indicator than time splits about whether you should kick up your pace since it can take into account whether your body is working harder on uneven terrain. For easy and long runs, aim for heart rate between 65-75 percent of your max heart rate; your max heart rate is roughly 220 minus your age.

5. Your Workout Obsession

She: Is one step class away from buns of steel

You: Focus on the t-shirt muscles—and nothing else

As Widerstrom puts it, “Men think upper body. Women think hips and thighs.” Men who hit the gym with the single-minded pursuit of bigger pecs, broader shoulders, and a more sculpted back could afford to pay a little more attention to their quads, hamstrings, and calves. While your chest is what you see in the mirror, it’s your legs that are doing most of the work throughout the day. When it comes down to it, your body needs to be balanced to look proportionate and fend off injury, so it’s important to spend an equal amount of time working your upper and lower body. Plus, working the large muscle groups in your lower body fires up fat burn. Squats, lunges, and leg presses are some of the most efficient exercises for strength building and calorie burn. Why? Leg exercises tend to be compound movements—multi-joint exercises that engage a number of muscles at once—so they’re going to be more demanding on your body than a bicep curl, explains Jack.

By Emily G. W. Chau

FitBie at MSN

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About kylesands
Director of Marketing at Fitness Quest 10

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