How to Be Your Own Trainer
Use this expert advice to take your workouts to the next level.
Your Goal: Find an "Emergency" Routine You Can Do Anywhere
You need a portable routine to squeeze in between scheduled workouts—something you can easily do in your living room, a hotel room or the spare room at your parents' house (where you'll be staying during your next visit). This routine by New York City celebrity trainer Joel Harper
builds muscle, creates flexibility and keeps your fitness level up without requiring any equipment. Best of all: You need only 20 minutes.
Read more: The in-betweener quickie workout
Your Goal: Work Out at Least Four Times a Week
You feel the most pumped to work out at night, but deadlines, family, friends and Mad Men
have made it hard to stick to a schedule. Try picking an evening class (maybe even a pricey yoga or spin session) and treating it like a meeting or a social obligation. When you have a regular fitness appointment, you schedule the rest of your life around your workout instead of trying to fit your workout into your life, says Michelle Kennedy, MS, Best Life fitness expert. If that doesn't work, you may have to override your natural rhythms. The first week or two might be tough, but Kennedy swears a.m. workouts get easier over time. And she should know: because of her schedule and two young children, she needs to leave for the gym by 4:30 a.m.
Read more: The best time of day to work out
Your Goal: Transition from the Treadmill to the Race Course
You've been racing yourself (or the little red dot that serves as your digital doppelganger) for months, and now you're ready to challenge another runner—or even a crowd of them. Personal trainer Andrea Metcalf has a six-week guide that will help you run your first 5K in under 30 minutes. It involves alternating a circuit of 2 minutes of walking followed by 2 minutes of jogging and then 1 minute of running. Get the details, as well Metcalf's favorite post-run stretches
Read more: The run-for-your-life 5K training program
Your Goal: Do Something About Your Tummy
It's one of life's unfair truths: Your chances of washboard abs are mostly determined by your body type—like how much extra weight you're carrying and where you're carrying it. But regardless of your abdominal DNA, you can build a stronger, more toned-looking core that can support your back, help you stand straighter (and therefore look slimmer) and lower your risk of injury. Skip sit-ups and crunches, and instead focus on planks: Here's how to do them correctly
. Once you've mastered them, incorporate your legs and arms by doing mountain climbers like these with a stability ball
Read more: The 6 essential exercises everyone should know how to do
Your Goal: Get Red-Carpet-Ready Thighs
Squats are a big-name trainer's go-to move; you've seen them mentioned in articles about how this celebrity or that one got their pre-baby body back, or got fit for the beach scenes in their last movie, or prepared for that awards show. You know you can't easily spot-shrink the thighs nature (or your parents) gave you, but squats can help you reshape them. For those of us without trainers, doing squats right can be a little confusing. How low should you go? How should you hold the weights? Which way should you point your feet? Bob Greene breaks it all down in this short video
Watch the video: How to do a squat
Your Goal: Develop Comebacks to Your Best Excuses
You're pretty good about sticking to a fitness plan, but there are those days when you'd really love a kick in the sweatpants. Need a good reason to work out today? Here are Bob Greene's Top 10 excuse-busters
, including the obvious (you want to look better) as well as the ones you often forget about (you love your kids, you don't sleep well). Print these out and tape them to the inside of your closet—it's the next best thing to having Bob on speed dial.
Read more: The one way to boost your mood, sleep better and look great
Your Goal: Save Money on Gym (and Trainer) Fees
A new survey from the American Cancer Society found that women are more likely to consider working out to be "work" than men: 40 percent of women said they would be more physically active in their free time if exercise felt more like play. You can relate. You're sick of cardio machines that don't take you anywhere, and you secretly hope to get kicked out of boot camp. Good news: You can burn just as many calories with some of these nontraditional exercises that make working out feel fun again
. Instead of running, try Ultimate Frisbee, or drop the dumbbells in favor of a hiking pack you can take with you into the hills.
Read more: 7 fun exercises your trainer doesn't want you to know about