Any time that people get together these days, certainly, you'll find that they talk about romance, shopping and even a favorite diet; when the conversation flags with all of these though there's really one last go-to topic that can be counted on to lighten things up. And that is a frank discussion of everyone's favorite weight loss exercise program to round out your bottom, to trim your thighs, for killer shoulders, what have you. Now personal trainer that I am, animated conversation among the laity that takes exercise and training seriously does delight; it's just the "program" part of it that I take exception to. In training, as in anything else, people who settle into a routine, do lose their spontaneity, their sense of engagement, and finally their involvement. Not only does monotony make you lose involvement at the psychological level, it even makes your body lose involvement on the physical level. Muscles, when they are made to do the same thing over and over again, are just dulled and numbed. Your muscles burn the most calories when they're perked up and they feel like they are ready for anything. That comes from expressing yourself - not from a "program".
But perhaps I exaggerate a little bit for effect; you don't really need to throw away the weight loss exercise program that works for you and that you trust. What you need is a way to perk it up, to bring it to life. Let's re-visit some of her favorite pieces of home gym equipment and think of what we can do to add a few ounces of excitement in.
The elliptical trainer is a great way to build flexibility and to burn calories; it didn work that way when you first brought it home and broke it in; if it doesn't seem to be doing as much now, it's possible that your workout on the elliptical goes on in zombie mode - your legs know where they need to go, and your upper body is relaxed and not popping with energy. The mistake you're making here is, that you're just letting the machine's momentum set the pace, you're just along for the ride. You need to feel the need to get your muscles straining strongly - push the pedals, and let your legs, not the trainer do all the work. Here is a little trick to know when to turn the intensity up. Three times every hour, break the monotony, and tell yourself you have to go as hard and as intensely as you possibly can. Your iPod will tell you when the next blast session is coming up - every fourth song, for instance, and your body will find it impossible to go to sleep at the wheel. Focus on your legs, fuel the rippling muscles, and try to focus more energy into them. The feeling will easily help you burn more calories than ever.
The treadmill, the center of your home training layout, is very easy to zone out on. There is the television in front of you, and the steady pace of the treadmill just doesn't require you to think about anything. You just keep walking, and your mind has just left your body. Your muscles will never gain as much from your time on the treadmill if you aren't there to participate. Try to surprise your muscles with a burst of activity at the end of the workout. You could skip for a few minutes at the end of the workout, walks sideways or backwards on the treadmill to build a little coordination. All the surprise movement will easily help you capture your muscles offguard and help you burn more.
If you go to a standard spinning class as part of your weight loss exercise program, you'll see that most participants just coast. Whenever the trainer requests effective movement, everyone knows what they need to do; and it's easy to go through the motions. Use the resistance knob at the slightest excuse; make sure that you go for 110 cycles per minute; it's hard for anybody to get used to anything when the going is full tilt. It's the same thing with weight training. How much should you lift? If you don't want your gym buddies spying on how you really need to strain to lift a weight, you aren't trying hard enough. You really need to lift weights that are heavy enough that you have to truly strain to cope.
Again, you just need to keep surprising your muscles, and to keep mixing it up so that your body doesn't know what to expect. Upgrade to a bigger weight one day, go with a smaller weight the next day, and so on. Perhaps it isn't going to help you win any fitness contests; but it is going to get you much stronger.