Phillip doesn't have an exercise problem—he has a cardio problem: "I don't like getting on the treadmill. I don't like getting on the elliptical—you just go and go and go and nothing happens. I find it boring, so I don't want to do it. And I have an increased pant size to prove it." He's a dedicated gym-goer, though, three to four times a week, focusing on weights. But Phillip wants to stop the pant-size progression and ideally "take off a few pounds in the middle and sort of move them up to my shoulders and arms." That means cardio.
"Some people can lose themselves in exercise, but Phillip needs focus," explains Murphy. "Exercise can be like picking a spouse or a partner, where you choose the opposite of yourself for the best complement. On the job, Phillip's brain and body basically stay in one spot all day. So when exercising, he needs to move around to keep his brain interested; otherwise the gym feels like an extension of work." A more mixed-up cardio program with some tricks—like intervals—will keep his muscles as intrigued as his brain, will intensify his workouts, and should help to evoke a more calorically intense response from his body.
- Turn your weights into a form of cardio. Pick one exercise each for your hamstrings, chest, quadriceps, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and abs—then do each in that order as a circuit (where you race from move to move with little to no rest in between). This sort of pacing elevates the heart rate significantly.
- Then mix it up even more. Try combining one pushing exercise, one pulling exercise, and a mini high-intensity cardio activity. One example: Do a set of 10 to 12 dumbbell presses (push), then a set of 10 to 12 standing dumbbell rows (pull), then pretend to skip rope for 20 to 30 seconds. Do each move once, then repeat the cycle 3 to 4 times.
- There has to be a cardio exercise that won't bore you. If there's something that feels more like play than work—tennis or racquetball, which introduce the buddy benefit—set up regular "play dates."
- Take some tech with you: a video iPod, an audiobook device. That will relieve the boredom.
- As an Alabama resident, you have many months of outdoor-fitness weather. One of the biggest reasons most people prefer to exercise outdoors is that it always feels different.
- Try this trick: Count the seconds. Researchers at the University of New South Wales found that people who exercised at a high intensity for 8 seconds, then at a low intensity for 12 seconds, lost three times more fat in 20 minutes than exercisers who worked out at a constant pace for 40 minutes. It's hard to do this for a full 20 minutes, but boy, does it focus the brain.