You are here

50 Ways to Get Super Fit This Year

Gain Weight

1 of 50

All photos

Every pound of muscle you add can help burn an extra 45 calories per day. So if you beeline it for the weight room and pack on 10 pounds of lean muscle, then your body can continue to torch 450 calories daily well after you've left the gym, even if you’re chained to a desk for most of the day. At that rate, you can lose almost a pound of fat per week. Source: Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D., author of the Miracle Carb Diet

RELATED: For even more advice, check out these training secrets from the super fit Alvin Ailey dancers.

Never Stop Moving

2 of 50

All photos

You get off your high horse now, Ms. I Work Out Five Times a Week. A new study shows that women who regularly exercise (an average of 2 and a half hours a week) still spend too much time sitting—about 63 percent of their day. So even if you're active, you might be sedentary too. One way around this is to embrace restless behavior. An unrelated study found that if you stand, pace, and tap your toes often, you can burn 350 calories a day—or drop 30 to 40 pounds a year just from fidgeting! Source: International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity and Greg Chertok, director of sport psychology at Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Center in New Jersey

Stretch It Out

3 of 50

All photos

Throwing a leg on a bench and reaching for your toes is not a great warm-up. If you're getting ready to run or bike, try firing up your muscles and boosting your heart rate and blood flow with some dynamic stretching: Pull one knee to your chest while standing, then alternate for a few reps on each side. Next kick each leg back and forth one at a time, slowly increasing speed to improve your range of motion, which will make the activity easier. Source: Sergio Rojas, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of Redefined Fitness & Physical Therapy in Chicago

Keep It Short and Sweaty

4 of 50

All photos

Spending three hours at the gym or doing 100 reps of a move are not good things—quality trumps quantity when it comes to exercise. Your workouts should be short, intense, and explosive. This way, you'll be better able to give it your all with good form, which is the best way fast-track results. Source: Austin Malleolo, CrossFit head coach at Reebok CrossFit One in Canton, MA

Flip Your Focus

5 of 50

All photos

Forget counting calories this year, and instead make it your goal to eat fresh, high-quality foods. You'll instantly dump the biggest flat-belly troublemakers like all things highly process, boxed, and full of dangerous synthetic hormones, pesticides, and genetically-modified ingredients. You don't have to go vegan, low-carb, or even Paleo—just eat fresh and watch the pounds melt away. Source: Mira and Jayson Carlton, Ph.D., authors of the new book Rich Food, Poor Food

Get into the Swing of Things

6 of 50

All photos

Drop the dumbbells and become best friends with a kettlebell. Since your stabilizer muscles have to work harder to wield a weight that isn’t evenly distributed, you burn more calories (almost 300 in 20 minutes!) using it. We like the Rip: 60 adjustable soft Kettle Bell, which adjusts from two to 20 pounds with its four removable soft-weight discs. Follow its DVD for a total belle body workout you can do right in your living room.

Stop Hitting Snooze

7 of 50

All photos

When the choice is staying warm and sleeping later under your soft comforter or rising to face a cold, dark, winter morning workout, your bed often wins the battle. Revive your up-and-at-'em motivation with the Philips Wake-up Light ($140, This unique bulbous bedside lamp simulates a warmly lit sunrise using an LCD light that gradually brightens at the same rate as a real sunrise. Natural sounds of birds chirping in the faux a.m. glow will ease you into your day feeling refreshed, calm, and ready to go hop on your bike, sweat through TRX class, or do a total-body bodyweight workout.

Photo: Philips

Hit the Floor for Your Core

8 of 50

All photos

You stopped doing crunches long ago, but if you’re bored with planks, add this sculpting Spidey-inspired move to your workout, which works your entire body, including all sides of your core: Start in a push-up position. Lower your body as if you were doing a push-up and bring your right knee as close to your right elbow as possible. Push back up to start and repeat, this time bringing your left knee to your left elbow. Return to start to complete one repetition. Do 10 total repetitions (five on each leg), switching from right to left leg with every push-up. Source: Renee Balconi, founder of Balconi Top Training in Cincinnati, OH

Go Vegan Till Dinner

9 of 50

All photos

Take a cue from The New York Times food writer and bestselling cookbook author Mark Bittman, and try to have at least two meals each day without any animal protein. Bittman did this for three or four months and lost 35 pounds, normalized his blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and completely eliminated his sleep apnea. Source: Stephanie Middleberg, a New York City-based registered dietitian

Have a Game Plan

10 of 50

All photos

The old adage, “Fail to plan, plan to fail” couldn't be truer when working out. On your way to the gym or before you lace up your sneakers for a 3-miler, take a minute to think about, and maybe even write down, what you hope to accomplish, whether it's taking a spin class, running in the park, or sweating buckets in Bikram. Knowing your goals makes 'em easier to achieve. Source: Pete McCall, exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise

Cleanse . . . Kinda

11 of 50

All photos

Start your day with a cup of hot water and lemon, especially if you've had a few glasses of wine the night before and like to drink coffee in the morning. This detox trick will help give your system a little break and improve digestion (aka, promote weight loss!). Source: Rima Rabbath, an advanced certified Jivamukti teacher at New York City’s Jivamukti Yoga School

Practice Yoga Anywhere

12 of 50

All photos

Taking just 15 minutes a day to do a little yoga will help keep you closely connected to your mission, whether that's taking care of your family, getting promoted at work, or improving your overall health. And you really can do it in any spot (even arm balances on a pool table!), as our Yoga Anywhere videos prove. Find tips on ways to find short, effective practices that feel like a mini vacation on Source: Elena Brower, founder and co-owner of New York City's Virayoga and author of The Art of Attention

Ask If Your Doc Runs

13 of 50

All photos

Studies show that runners are more satisfied with their physicians if they share their passion for pounding pavement or trails. If an injury develops, you will be more inclined to see your physician if he or she understands how important running is to you. Source: Darrin Bright, the 40-year-old sports physician from Columbus, OH, has completed 50 marathons as a member of the CLIF Bar Pace Team

Raise a Glass, Keep a Tight . . .

14 of 50

All photos

Your evening wine does more than help you unwind—it may keep the number on the scale in check too. A Brigham and Women's Hospital study found that women who had one to two alcoholic beverages per day were 30 percent less likely to be overweight or obese than nondrinkers. Researchers believe the vinos either make room for the liquid calories in their diets by skipping other carbs or that women burn more calories metabolizing alcohol then men do. Source: Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D., author of the Miracle Carb Diet

Get Unkinky

15 of 50

All photos

Sore muscles are "knot" a problem if you own a lacrosse ball. Better than a good ol' tennis ball, which isn't always firm and often slides around on a wood floors or walls, a rubbery lacrosse ball is just hard enough to put pressure on certain trigger points under you feet and on your legs. Stash one in your gym bag for a self-massage on the go. Source: Frank Baptiste, a strength and conditioning specialist and founder of FranklyFitness

Play Mirror, Mirror

16 of 50

All photos

Write down your goals—a certain race pace or dress size—on your bathroom mirror using a dry-erase marker. This simple act both helps confirm your commitment and serves as an easy and fun reminder to start each day with purpose. Source: Pete McCall, exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise

Be There

17 of 50

All photos

You planted the seed on January 1 that you wanted to transform you body. The best way to reach full bloom is to just go for it, which starts with walking through the gym or studio door. Once you get yourself there, the possibilities for how much you can grow are endless. Source: Rima Rabbath, an advanced certified Jivamukti teacher at New York City’s Jivamukti Yoga School

Talk (or Sing) Yourself Through It

18 of 50

All photos

When 44-year-old Kathleen Dolan of Columbus, OH, needed help powering through her first Iroman, she sang Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down" in her head over and over again. During her darkest race-day moment—when she almost drowned during the swim—she feverishly repeated her favorite line from the song: "You can stand me up at the gates of hell and I won't back down." Find a phrase or mantra that resonates with you and use it to find courage and motivation during your toughest workouts and races. Source: Dolan has completed two Ironmans and 80+ marathons as a member of the CLIF Bar Pace Team

Eat for Healthy Feet

19 of 50

All photos

Don't let athlete's foot keep you from hitting the gym. Adding one to two chopped garlic cloves to your meals daily can help stave off the fungal skin infection that causes uncomfortable redness, itching, and cracking, because of the flavorful bulb’s antimicrobial properties. Adding garlic to your diet may speed up your metabolism to boot. Source: Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D., author of the Miracle Carb Diet

Hire a Slightly Less-Personal Trainer

20 of 50

All photos

Find a friend or two and maybe some colleagues who have similar fitness goals, such as weight loss or a spring half-marathon or mud run. Then get everyone to chip in together for a trainer who's willing to take on a small group at once. Splitting the cost isn't the only perk, your new workout buddies will help you stay on track and hold you accountable to your exercise routine. Use this trainer locator to find the best one near you. Source: Pete McCall, exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise

Say Buh-Bye to BMI

21 of 50

All photos

Don't rely on your body mass index to track your fitness. That simple equation can't tell the difference between muscle and muffin top. When your bathroom scale and BMI aren't budging, consider using an old-school tape measure to watch the subtle changes in your waistline. You can also ask a professional at your gym to measure your body fat percentage using skin calipers to give you a more precise analysis of your progress. Source: American Council on Exercise

Fuel Up Right Post-Exercise

22 of 50

All photos

A recent survey revealed that most people don't know whether to load up on protein or carbs after a workout. The answer is: You need a balance of both to recover faster and meet your fitness goal, whether that's toning up or slimming down. Aim to feed your body two-thirds protein and one-third carbohydrates after an hour at the gym. Pair almonds with unsweetened, all-natural dried fruit or roll up pear slices in deli turkey. Source: CLIF Builder's and Kelton Research

Do a Better Downward Dog

23 of 50

All photos

For all-day energy, strike a downward dog split in the morning: Start in a downward dog, spreading your fingers wide, tucking your toes, and lifting your hips up and back. Once stable, reach your left leg behind you, opening up the hips and shoulders, and twisting your core slightly to the left. Hold for a couple of breaths and repeat on the opposite side. Source: Tara Stiles, Reebok yoga expert and founder of Strala Yoga in New York City

Hop to It

24 of 50

All photos

Brittle bones aren't just a problem for grandma. Women's skeletal systems start to get thinner around the time they hit 3-0, but don’t worry how many candles are on your next birthday cake. Research shows that regular, high-impact exercise increases bone density, and a stronger spine equals a longer life. Do 10 bone-boosting box jumps daily: Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms at sides about a foot away from a sturdy foot-tall box or bench. Bend knees, swing arms back, and jump up on top of the box with both feet at once. Land with bent knees to absorb any impact. At the top, stand up straight, then step off the box or jump down with bent knees. Source: Austin Malleolo, CrossFit head coach at Reebok CrossFit One in Canton, MA

Drink All Day

25 of 50

All photos

If you wait to drink until you're thirsty, it's too late: You're already dehydrated. For every 2 percent of dehydration, you lose 10 percent performance. The solution isn't to over-drink, as that can just wash out necessary electrolyte solutes. Instead think consistent hydration, and aim to drink six to eight ounces every 15 to 30 minutes throughout the day. Source: Daniel Matheny, senior endurance coach at Carmichael Training Systems in Colorado

Pucker Up

26 of 50

All photos

Before your biggest meal of the day, down a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in water. The fruit's fermented juice may help curb your appetite, encourage regularity, and promote weight loss, according to a 2009 study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. Researchers found that obese people who consumed one to two tablespoons of the vinegar daily for 12 weeks saw a substantial drop in weight, abs fat, and waist circumference. Source: Stephanie Middleberg, a New York City-based registered dietitian

Perfect Your Push-Up

27 of 50

All photos

It doesn’t get much more efficient than this classic do-anywhere exercise, one of the best total-body moves out there since it targets all the major muscle groups. But you have to be sure your form is correct: Keep your elbows tucked as close to your body as possible, tighten your glutes to prevent your hips from sagging, and when you lower toward the floor, engage your upper muscles to fight gravity and avoid plopping down. See how many you can do properly in a minute, and aim to improve that score each time you do them. Source: Declan Condron, an exercise physiologist and the co-founder of PumpOne

Choose the Right Ride

28 of 50

All photos

For your first bike, focus on comfort (how long do you plan to ride on average?) and whether you want skinny (road) or fat (dirt) tires, or to have the best of both terrains on a hybrid bike. A good, clean, reliable bike shop (check Yelp for suggestions) will help you make these decisions and will also tweak the bike to fit you well. Lastly consider your budget. Cost is always a factor, but if you put it first, you may end up with an ill-fitting bike that doesn’t meet your functionality needs. Source: Jackie Baker, a Liv/Giant marketing manager in California

Go Ahead, Eat Potatoes

29 of 50

All photos

When spuds aren't deep fried or covered in butter and bacon, they're actually quite good for you. In fact, these complex carbs—packed with potassium, vitamin C, fiber, B vitamins, and protein—are great for long-lasting energy. Source: Tara Gidus, R.D., team dietitian for Orlando Magic and author of Pregnancy Cooking & Nutrition for Dummies

Take Up a New Sport

30 of 50

All photos

If you’re on the fence about signing up for a bike to work or sprint triathlon, stop waiting and do it! In a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health, Dutch researchers observed subjects from ages 26 to 70 for a decade and found that those who began exercising (30 minutes a day, five days a week) later in life reaped the same rewards, such as good overall health, less body pain, and better social skills, as those who had been consistently active their whole lives. Proof it’s never too late. Source: Pete McCall, exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise

Ace the Sweat Test

31 of 50

All photos

If the difference between your body weight before and after exercise is 2 percent (for example, 2.6 pounds for a 130-pound woman), then your athletic performance has been compromised. Every pound lost is equal to 16-ounces of fluid deficit, and more than 2 percent means there could be potential health risks, including elevated heart rate and body temperature. Dripping in water is par for the course, but if you’re too drenched, be sure to hydrate all day, add a little salt to your diet to help you retain water better, and consider a recovery drink such as coconut water after your workout. Source: Nutrition and Food Science, Auburn University

Dress for Weight-Loss Success

32 of 50

All photos

Your tummy has the capacity to expand to the size of six baseballs, which makes it super easy to overeat. Next party, wear skinny jeans or a tight mini and a fitted top, and if you own Spanx, slap it on, too! These anti-expansion pieces are a great way to keep your stretchable stomach from, well, stretching. Pair your slimming outfit with a clutch rather than a strappy purse; this way, if you have a drink in one hand and your clutch in the other, you can't dig into the chili cheese nachos. Source: Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D., author of the Miracle Carb Diet

Ix-Nay the Excuses

33 of 50

All photos

Running around like a mad woman—taking care of your family, your work, your relationships, and, lastly, yourself—makes it easy to skip the gym. Quit feeling guilty about it and start sneaking in ways to get your heart rate up and burn fat without having to stopping your 100-mile-per-hour train. Simple things, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator and downloading cool, motivating fitness and nutrition apps (such as Nike Training Club and Fooducate), can make a difference. Source: Marvin Foster, a spin instructor at SoulCycle

Work Out Earlier, Sleep Better

34 of 50

All photos

Hey, night owls: Aim to finish your workout at least three hours before turning in to ensure smooth sailing into Slumberland. Breaking a sweat too close to bedtime might sabotage your sleep because cardio boosts blood flow, which can energize you and make it harder for your body to relax and doze off. Try to exercise no later than the early evening to give your body enough time to cool down and, well, get sleepy. Sources: National Sleep Foundation and American Council on Exercise

Sip Away Soreness

35 of 50

All photos

Move over chocolate milk—the perfect recovery drink may be two 10.5-ounce glasses of pure cherry juice, according to a recent study from Winona State University. Researchers found that tart cherries contain these high-antioxidant, anti-inflammatory agents called anthocyanins, which may help alleviate achy muscles post-exercise. Source: Nancy Clark, R.D., a sports nutritionist in the Boston area and author of Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook

Get Away and Get Fit

36 of 50

All photos

A change of scene might be just what you need to help change your habits or adopt new ones. Choose a fit-cation like Escape to Shape's Destination Detox just outside New York City or The BodyHoliday resort's "Lose It, Tone It" in St. Lucia to both kick butt and kick back—and return home in the best shape ever!

Sprint Like Crazy

37 of 50

All photos

New research says you can burn up to 200 calories in just 2 and a half minutes of super hard, concentrated effort a day. Try this high-intensity workout: Pedal as fast as possible (100-percent effort) on a stationary bicycle set at a high resistance for 30 seconds. Then lower the resistance and pedal slowly for 4 minutes. Repeat this sprint-and-recover set five times total. You'll be at it for at least 25 minutes, but that's a helluva lot shorter and more effective than 45 minutes at the same moderate pace on the elliptical machine or treadmill. Source: American Physiological Society

Banish Your Wheat Belly

38 of 50

All photos

Unlike the stuff your parents ate 40 years ago, modern wheat is genetically manipulated to contain gliaden, a protein that triggers your appetite and makes you overeat an extra 400 calories a day. Eliminating wheat—yes, that means even saintly whole wheat—from your diet won't just help you slim down but also save you from a bunch of other health issues, including intestinal disease, acid reflux, indigestion, brain fog, obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, allergies, high blood sugar, and elevated cholesterol levels. Source: Mira and Jayson Carlton, Ph.D., authors of the new book Rich Food, Poor Food

Salt Strategically

39 of 50

All photos

As long as you don’t have hypertension, you can salt your food a bit more or eat salty foods (bring on the tortilla chips and soup!) the days leading up to an event. The extra sodium will help you hold onto your fluids during the race, which translates into improved performance and less risk of cramping. Source: Daniel Matheny, senior endurance coach at Carmichael Training Systems in Colorado

Be a Heavy Weight

40 of 50

All photos

Forgive us for sounding like a broken record, but one more time: You won’t bulk up by lifting hefty dumbbells. And if you keep doing lots of repetitions with light weights, all you’ll get is an aerobic workout. To sculpt your body, muscle fatigue is key. Choose a load that only allows you to complete six to eight quality reps, with the last one being the hardest. Source: Pete McCall, exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise

Spoil Your Appetite

41 of 50

All photos

Soup may be the perfect pre-dinner snack. Penn State University researchers discovered that it’s a great appetite suppressant thanks to its winning combo of liquids and solids. In the study, women who had about 270 calories of chicken and rice soup consumed an average of 100 fewer calories at their next meal. But don’t reach for just any soup: Watch out for bloat-inducing sodium, high-cal cream, and carb-loaded pasta and potatoes that may fill you up and out. Source: Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D., author of the Miracle Carb Diet

Leave Everything to Chants

42 of 50

All photos

Part of shaping your body is shaping your mind, and since you are the author of your own inner conversation, steer the dialogue toward good thoughts about yourself. Need help? Read positive poetry and affirmations daily such as Gabrielle Bernstein's May Cause Miracles. Source: Elena Brower, founder and co-owner of New York City's Virayoga and author of The Art of Attention

Cut Calories from Chicken

43 of 50

All photos

Cooking up skinless poultry for dinner is an affordable, easy, and fast way to get in quality muscle-building protein. To make it even better for you, skip the swirl of oil and use a tablespoon of water to coat your non-stick pan instead. Cover with a lid and let the chicken steam, then flavor with herbs and spices for a perfectly guilt-free meal. Source: Evan Treadwell, executive chef at Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa

See How You Rate

44 of 50

All photos

Calculate your max heart rate by subtracting your age from 220, then use the built-in heart rate monitor on the treadmill or elliptical to track your ticker while you work out. Aim to do short bursts of high-intensity exercise at 80 to 85 percent of your max, followed by low-intensity recovery periods at 50 to 65 percent max. This method burns more calories than exercising at a consistent level of exertion for the same amount of time. Source: American Collage of Sports Medicine

Be Sweet for Real

45 of 50

All photos

Faux-sugars offer more than just zero calories—they decrease your metabolism, promote mood swings, and boost food cravings, which can ultimately up your daily caloric intake. Use a teaspoon of raw sugar, raw organic honey, or maple syrup instead. These all-natural options may have 15 to 20 calories, but they also don’t cause bloating or other digestive problems, plus you won’t have the urge to raid the office vending machine after your cup of tea. Source: Stephanie Middleberg, a New York City-based registered dietitian

Prime the Pump

46 of 50

All photos

Speed up your pace on the treadmill or track with efficiency by fluidly moving your arms, bent at 90-degree angles, back and forth without crossing them in front of your chest. Your legs will naturally try to keep up with your arms. Source: ChiRunning

See the Up Side, Down

47 of 50

All photos

Bring your heart above your head regularly. The usefulness of yoga inversions extends not only to the health of the physical body—it may reduce fatigue, increase vitality, and even slow aging—but also to mental tranquility and spiritual growth. Source: Rima Rabbath, an advanced certified Jivamukti teacher at New York City’s Jivamukti Yoga School

Give Cravings a Rest

48 of 50

All photos

Losing too much shuteye may leave you feeling hungry like the wolf, a study in Sleep Medicine Reviews confirmed. Going on four hours of sleep two nights in a row caused levels of the hormone leptin, which rings the satiety bell, to fall by 18 percent, while the hormone ghrelin, which promotes chowing down, increased by 28 percent. Catch more zzzs (aim for seven hours a night) to avoid unwanted lbs. Source: Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D., author of the Miracle Carb Diet

Bag It Up and Go

49 of 50

All photos

Throw your workout gear in your duffel or, better yet, your car the night before to save time and excuses in the morning, and acknowledge to yourself that you've committed to breaking a sweat the next day. Seeing your sneaks in the backseat in the a.m. will be a good reminder to stick to the plan. Source: Pete McCall, exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise

Rock the Oat

50 of 50

All photos

You know better than to skip breakfast and risk noshing on extra calories throughout the day. And while oatmeal is a great way to start your morning, you should always aim for balance in every meal. For a little protein and healthy fat, add slivered almonds, and for some fruit, throw in fresh or frozen berries or raisins. Source: Nancy Clark, R.D., a sports nutritionist in the Boston area and author of Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook


Add a comment