Instead, here seven simple rules for squeezing the most out of your everyday routine to finally get your body to look the way you want it to.
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Rule 1. Work out as early as possible.
Lace up first thing and you’ll increase your odds of exercising today threefold. A study of 500 people at the Mollen Clinic, a preventive medicine and wellness center in Scottsdale, Arizona, found that 75 percent of those who worked out in the morning did so regularly, compared with just half the afternoon exercisers and a quarter of the post-work crowd.
“At the beginning of the day, you have the fewest excuses for skipping exercise,” says clinic founder Arthur Mollen, DO. Not waking up early enough, of course, is the main one. “Limit using the snooze button to only five minutes so that you don’t fall into a deep sleep again,” Dr. Mollen advises.
Bonus: You’ll go to work feeling focused: A recent study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that 20 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise improved concentration, reading comprehension, and cognitive function.
Rule 2. Do some pre-cardio exercises first.
Instead of going from zero to 60 to sweat off the calories, consider this: Doing a quick sculpting routine pre-cardio could increase the amount of fat you melt. Exercisers in a study at the University of Tokyo who biked within 20 minutes of lifting weights tapped more of their fat stores than those who rested longer or didn’t tone at all.
The firm-then-burn order is also good for your heart: Arteries stiffen during resistance training, increasing blood pressure, but a cardio chaser such as a 20-minute run counteracts these effects and expedites your arteries’ return to normal, explains Rohit Arora, MD, chairman of cardiology at the Chicago Medical School. Plus, strength training “takes coordination and good technique, so you get more out of it if you come to it fresh,” says Kent Adams, PhD, director of the Exercise Physiology Lab at California State University, Monterey Bay.
Rule 3. Faster Pace = Faster Metabolism.
Finished toning and ready to get sweaty? Gun it a bit for a bigger afterburn.
“High-intensity exercise increases the release of growth hormones, which mobilize fat to be used as fuel, plus it causes your metabolism to stay elevated about 10 to 15 percent above its baseline, so you’re burning more fat for several hours post-workout,” says Arthur Weltman, PhD, director of the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.