An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Commentary Search

January Fitness Tips

  • Published
  • By Michelle Walker
  • 169th Force Support Squadron

How to Upgrade your Workout for 2019
We all want to have great workouts to melt fat, add more muscle and improve our health and fitness. But to move to the next level, the all-too-common ways to “upgrade” your workout include adding more weight to your exercises, doing more sets, doing more reps or all the above.

Unfortunately, at a certain point, you’re not going to be able to add much more in each category consistently. Instead, you need to find new ways to upgrade your training routine to continue to see results and get your body to transform.

Here are some of the best and simplest ways to take your workouts to the next level — and none of them have to do with just increasing your weight.

When most people think of “resistance,” they think about traditional weights like dumbbells and barbells. But that’s just one of many tools to add variety to your resistance training.

Here are some great ways to upgrade common exercises:

Instead of doing a bench press, try band-resisted push-ups which make the exercise increasingly harder as you push up and help you develop more explosiveness.

Instead of doing front squats with a barbell, try front squats with two kettle-bells for more core activation, upper-body development and total-body stability.

Use cable machines for arm exercises — because of its pulley system, this gives you the same exact resistance throughout an entire movement. (If you use a dumbbell for a bicep curl, for example, the resistance is highest at the mid-point and easiest near the beginning and end.)

Take your workout to the next level by mastering what you do before you start.

First, don’t just do a few stretches, a quick jog and then start lifting weights — warm up with the right blend of foam rolling and stretches. This helps prepare your body and mind to give its very best each and every time you go to the gym, which prevents injuries and potentially even improves your performance.

Next, your warm-up sets should be short. Generally, people do too many reps and sets before they get to their “working weight,” which wastes energy and strength. Instead, start with lighter weights and increase each warm-up set by roughly 10–20 pounds. Also, do 5 reps at the very most and gradually decrease the number of reps as you get closer to your working weight.

Most exercises target both arms or both legs simultaneously like a squat, deadlift or push-up (called “bilateral training”). Yet by using exercises that target each arm and leg separately — called “unilateral training” — you can unlock tremendous improvements for your fitness and body.

First, by using one side at a time, you instantly make each exercise harder because you’re using a smaller base of support. This also increases the activation of your core and your stabilizing muscles to enhance your body’s overall strength, power and balance.

Second, it helps eliminate any asymmetries where one side or one limb is stronger than the opposite one. This helps prevent injuries and improves your movement patterns.

Third, it burns more calories because you have to do every exercise twice — once on the left side and once on the right.

Healthy Eating Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions
1. Reduce your sugar intake, little by little.

Cutting back on sugar is a gradual process and doesn’t happen overnight, but once you start to cut back on it, you’ll realize you don’t need as much of it as you once thought.

2. Add veggies to breakfast time.

One health-protective habit is to aim to fill half of every mealtime plate or bowl with non-starchy veggies. For most people, that’s easier to do for lunch and dinner than for breakfast. So, this year make a resolution to include veggies in one way or another at every breakfast. Here are some examples of non-traditional breakfasts to try.

3. Practice mindful eating.

A big goal for the New Year is to eat more mindfully. There is evidence to suggest that practicing mindful eating may assist with portion control, weight management, and possibly even digestion, which are all important factors for long-term health.