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5 Quick Steps To Make Your Workout More Effective


Being fit and living a healthy lifestyle is ideal for any collegiette.  However, if you’re not a fitness guru it can be tricky to find ways to give a boost to your workout.  It can be easy to slip into the same routine each day! Her Campus has five quick and easy ways (complete with some sweet workout moves) to take your fitness to the next level. 

dumbbells lifting weights work out strength training

1. Put Some Weight Behind It

A cardio workout is pretty straightforward.  Treadmills or elliptical machines aren’t too intimidating, so it can be easy to get into a routine of hitting them up and nothing else.  As collegiettes, we often ignore the importance of using weights, as they are stereotypically a “guy” workout.  This is a mistake! “I know that lifting weights will get me closer to my ideal body,” says Kaleigh from Louisiana State University, “but I would have no idea how to approach a weight machine.  They probably are simple, but I feel like I’d make a fool of myself if I tried to figure them out!”

The Trick: You don’t have to approach the machines to get some good strength training in.  (But if you’re feeling brave, check out this article from Her Campus about the weight machines at the gym!).  Start simply by doing combination moves with manageable 5-8 lb. dumbbells.  Mary Perez, a personal trainer from IronWorks Fitness in St. Louis, has three easy dumbbell moves that will be sure to work you out:

Squats with Dumbbell Curls
Works: Legs, glutes, and biceps

Grab two dumbbells in each hand.  Stand in front of a flat bench or chair with feet flat and your legs shoulder width apart.  Bend your knees and “sit” back, with abs in and shoulders steady towards the bench.  Keep your knees behind toes and legs parallel to the floor.  With the bottom of your glute, tap the bench/chair and on the way up to standing, curl the dumbbells to chest level, then drop arms back to sides.*

Bent Over Rows with a Kickback
Works: back, shoulders, and triceps

Begin by standing in a stationary lunge position; your left leg back and your right leg bent with a flat back.  Balance by resting your right arm on your right leg and hold one dumbbell in your left hand.  Lift your left arm up into a row (bent at 90 degrees) by bringing your elbow back and squeezing your shoulders as your left arm comes back.  Hold this row position steady and then perform a kickback by extending your arm backwards as if you are passing a baton behind you.  Squeeze at the top of the position and reverse the movement by returning your arm into the row position to return to starting position. Make sure you are squeezing your shoulders as your arm comes up.*

Pullover with Pelvic Bridge
Works: Shoulders, chest, abs, and glutes

Lay down face-up on a mat. Grab one dumbbell with both hands and place it on the mat at the top of your head.  Keep your knees bent about hip width apart and your feet flat.  Begin by pulling abs in and slowly lifting the dumbbell off the floor (as if you are pulling a sweater over your head) towards your abs and lifting your hips up into a bridge position.  Hold this for 2 counts and then slowly lower the dumbbell and your pelvis back to floor.*

*Do all of these moves 2-3 times with 12-15 repetitions each time.

2. Bring a (Hot) Buddy

It’s really easy to say to yourself that you’re going to work hard at the gym.  It’s another thing to tell your friend that you’re going to work hard and then have her there to call you out if you don’t!  Having someone as a workout buddy is one of the best motivators a girl can have.  You’ll be able to help each other and hold each other accountable when you commit to a healthier lifestyle. 

The Trick: There’s no greater motivator than a guy you’re trying to impress.  Lots of girls bring their girlfriends along to the gym to make the activity more fun and social.  But have you ever thought of bringing your boyfriend or crush?  “I didn’t want my guy to see me all gross and sweaty,” says Laura, a junior from Indiana University, “but I got over it and anytime we work out together is easily the best workout of my week.  Plus, he thinks I’m cute when my cheeks are all rosy from getting hot!” Bringing a guy you like to your workout will force you to push yourself.  You don’t want to get left behind on the track when you could be jogging next to him and making conversation!  The key here is not to push yourself too hard though.  Know your limits because passing out in front of him is far more problematic than slowing it down a little!

sports drinks energy drink gatorade

3. Water Makes You Go Harder

There is no greater favor you can do for your body than drinking a lot of water before, during, and after your workout.  After all, your body is made up of water above anything else!  This is a simple concept, and you’ll hear repeatedly that you need to get a certain amount of “liters every hour.”  But who has time to measure out and keep track of how much water you’re drinking?  And what if you aren’t a fan of drinking water to begin with?  Part of what makes working out difficult is the pain that comes with working too hard.  Without water, you’ll be feeling it much sooner.  It doesn’t have to be difficult to stay hydrated, luckily! 

The Trick:  According to fitday.com, start with one glass of water before you begin your workout and drink an additional glass during your workout every 20 minutes (which can of course be sipped throughout those 20 minutes as needed).   Watch out for nausea, chills, or dizziness, as these are signs of dehydration.  As for the water haters, you’re in luck.  Many fitness professionals agree that sports drinks can be more beneficial than water when working out.  Sports drinks will make you thirstier and more likely to drink more.  They also aid fluid retention and decrease your chances of hydration.  Drink up collegiettes!

4.  Work in a Circuit

“I have an awkward time break between classes,” says Danielle, a freshman at Baylor, “I usually jog for about 30 minutes during that time but I always wonder if I’m really working out enough.”  It’s great to squeeze in some exercise whenever you have free time.  But, if you’re looking for more, there are plenty of ways to maximize the time you have to get a great overall workout.  

The Trick: Small exercise circuits.  “(Where I work), many of our clients have busy and important work schedules to maintain and stay on top of, so efficiency is critical.” says Dan Ellis, a trainer and coach from EFT Sports Performance in the Chicago area, “Grouping 3-4 exercises together in a small circuit not only allows you to get your heart rate going, it allows you to better use your time to exercise one area of your body while another recovers.  For example, a 4-exercise circuit might consist of exercise for upper body, lower body, core, and a related functional stretch.  Two to three of these circuits per workout will allow you to get more work done in the same amount of time, instead of sitting around resting in between sets.” 

ankleweights building muscle

5.  Get Pumped Up

Here are several little things you can do to personally push yourself.  Make your setting and mindset workout-friendly before you even begin.  You’ll be much more likely to go back to it day after day.

The Trick:

  • If the gym you go to has a television and you find yourself watching “Friends” re-runs everyday, it’s time to kick it up a notch.  If you usually listen to your favorite acoustic playlist, it might be best to save that for your walk to class.  Instead, aim for pump-up music like hip-hop or rock.  The faster tempo will motivate you to move faster with the beat.
  • If it’s a beautiful day and you’re sick of being in the library, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT!  Find a local park you haven’t been to, or a neighborhood with beautiful old houses and then get to it!  The new scenery will make a jog or biking trip more enjoyable and getting away from the norm will help your mental health too.
  • Don’t limit yourself to the treadmill or elliptical.  Many schools have basketball/volleyball courts or swimming pools open to students.  Adding variety to your workout equals a greater chance that you’re working out parts of your body that usually get less attention. 
  • Get a workout without an actual workout.  Ankle and wrist weights start at about $19 for a pair at Amazon.com. Strap them on when you’re walking to class, at work, or just lounging around home.  The added resistance  will make a difference!  


There you have it, collegiettes!  The most important thing to remember is this:  exercising is great for your short-term appearance, but also vital to your long-term health.  It’s difficult to fit it in sometimes, but it isn’t difficult to make the time you have count. Take full advantage of these tips and rock it out!  If you can find a way to have fun while you do it (or even look forward to it), even better!

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