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The Uncomfortable Workout (and why you need it)

Are you comfortable at the gym? Can you carry on a full conversation while doing cardio? Do you barely break a sweat? Do you do the same 3 sets of 10 on the same cybex machines with the same comfortable padded seats?

Over my 15 year history as a trainer, I have seen waaaaay too many people just glide though their workouts and deprive themselves of the results they are after.  Alas,  I am here to show you the way! Check out my  5 fast workout tricks that will get you looking HOT and add insane intensity to an otherwise mundane workout routine.

Whether you are a daily gym rat or a once a week-er, we all can afford to maximize the time spent amongst the metal and machines.  Getting more bang for your buck withe these 5 workout tricks can be the difference between a long drawn out hour and a half and a sick-ass 45 minute body wrecking workout.

By using the tips below you will not only have to spend LESS TIME in the gym, you will get MORE out of the time you spend which will get you to your goals that much faster.Wooo hoooo!


Top 5 Ways to Make your Workout Uncomfortable
(and therefore more effective)

1)      “Move Your Body like a Snake, Ma”

In life we very rarely move in a linear fashion – we twist, rotate and swivel our bodies to get things done. Even more rarely do we move one single joint at a time.  You need a wake up call if you are still spending all of your time training one body part at a time on a fixed-motion weight machine where you can sit comfortably and let the padded seat support you. Get the HELL OFF THE MACHINE and pick up a weighted medicine ball. This way you’ll make your legs support you as you work 5 -10 different muscle groups at ONCE while  training a “pattern of motion,” instead of a single body part.

TRY THIS: Rotational Chop  – Grab a medicine ball or a 10 lb dumbbell. Put the ball/weight over your head and to the right.  Lunge out with your left foot forward, with straight arms “chop” the ball (as if you have an axe and you are chopping a piece of wood) across your body and to the outside of that front knee. Your chest arms and shoulders should all be rotated to the left. Pause, and then return up to starting position.


WAY too often I see gym goers  RUSHING through their workout.  I call them the “see saw” lifters. You’ve seen them too I am sure.  The dumbbells fly up, down, up, down with lightening speed causing comfort and ease (and a breeze) to the guy who is working his EGO more than his bi’s with the 45 lb dumbbells. (Easy tough guy, you ought to be using half that weight.)

TRY THIS: At the hardest portion of each rep (top or bottom of the motion, depending on the exercise) – hold for a full 5 seconds. Squats: with the bar on your back, slowly lower yourself down into the seated squat position and hold here for 5 seconds,  then return to the standing position. You will COOK your quads/glutes with HALF the reps and time that it would normally take. (You’ll think of me for the next 2 days each time you get out of a chair or go down the steps. You’re welcome.)

3)   Go for Time!

You’ve all followed the guidelines of 3 sets of 10 or even 3 sets of 8.  But they are just that –  guidelines. Even if you are looking to build massive size – the key to success is to constantly vary your routine in order to shock your body. Shock the muscles by taking them out of their normal routine. (Ever carry a heavy box a few blocks from the subway and feel the soreness effects for a day or 2? THIS is your body  being “shocked” by the different stimulus of prolonged work.      Mimic this in your workout to get the most out of your next set.

TRY THIS: Do the bench press for 3 sets of 1 minute instead of only 10 reps.  Tip-  either start out with a lighter weight or be prepared to drop the weights down as the minute  goes on.

4)      Use the Treadmill for More Than “Cardio”.

A nice comfortable TROT, a “canter” if you will, on a moving surface will only challenge you if you dare to keep cranking up the speed or the incline.  The little ole treadmill actually contains a high degree of  “uncomfortable potential” that can be used in the middle of the workout, and not just as a warm up.  This crazy method is virtually UNTAPPED by most gym goers. You see, the faster your heart is pumping, the more overall work your body will be doing (ie more calories burned)  in the same amount of time.  Cardio and Weights do not have to be mutually exclusive.

TRY THIS: Traps, Tris, Treadmill. Group 2 weight exercises together, alternate a set of each to fatigue then drop the weights and hop on the treadmill. SPRINT for 1.5 minutes. Hop off then do a second set of each of the 2 exercises (to fatigue), then SPRINT on the treadmill for another 1.5 minutes.  Repeat all 3 for one more set.

5)            You Can Rest When You’re Dead

Is this you: do a set on the chest press, read a quick article in your magazine. Walk over to get a drink, chat with the cute guy at the water fountain, do set # 2 on the chest press. Check out the cutie that just walked in, give cutie your number, get another drink, do set # 3. COMFY COMFY COMFY!! (AKA:  waste of time, waste of time, waste of time!)

TRY THIS:Plan your workout by grouping 3 exercises together, for instance Push Ups with feet on the physio ball, Tricep Overhead Dumbbell Extensions on one leg, and Reverse Ab Crunches. Alternate a set of each while taking little to NO REST IN BETWEEN each set. This means that as soon as you do your last push up you’ve already got your hands on the dumbbells for the next exercise. This way your heart will be pounding, your muscles will be aching — you will officially be UNCOMFORTABLE! Well done.

Laura Miranda MsPT, CSCS

So the next time you are bored in the gym or just sick and tired of getting no where with the same old workout , try numbers 1 -5 for a little spice that gives a powerful punch to an otherwise static workout. These methods are all employed in the workouts at my Strong Healthy Woman Boot Camp in NYC and LI (but shhh, don’t give away any of my secrets; I like to keep the ladies guessing!)

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