10 Ways to Boost Your Performance During Solo Workouts
Ever try re-creating the energy of a spin class by yourself, on a stationary bike at the gym? If so, you know it’s virtually impossible to ride at the high intensity of a group class without an upbeat instructor bouncing along in front of you and calling out cues to quicken your pace or dial up the resistance. Enter Skyfit, a new fitness app (from $4.16 a month; available for iPhone and Android) that streams studio-quality workouts to your phone. Real trainers guide you through a session reminiscent of a group class—from indoor cycling to outdoor running to yoga routines—each pairing instructor commands with popular songs (as opposed to generic beats used in a lot of fitness apps).
The idea is that the music matches up with a trainer’s voice as they guide you through each step of the workout, so you get a similar experience as you would at a fitness studio—except the commands come through your earbuds and you can do the exercise anywhere. Skyfit also tracks your workout data to create routines that help you make progress toward your fit goals. For even more help amping up your solo cardio or strength workouts, read on for tips from trainers who’ve designed workouts for the app.
TO HAVE A BETTER RUN...
1. FOCUS ON FORM.
Stand tall, keep your core engaged, and think about landing on your feet lightly, advises instructor Candice Cunningham: “Doing those things will work to keep your hips in line and make your stride that much greater, which helps you naturally increase your pace.”
Also important is keeping shoulders relaxed, says trainer Rochelle Moncourtois. And when you’re ready to increase your speed, she recommends pumping your arms harder—your legs will naturally move faster to keep up.
2. WRITE IT DOWN.
Keeping a journal of your runs—including not just mileage and pace but also how you felt, what you ate, and how well you slept the night before—can help you have a better run. “It’ll give you insight into what lifestyle habits will help you when it comes to increasing speed, strength, and endurance,” says Cunningham. For instance, if you notice that you have your best runs in the a.m., try to consistently schedule your workouts for right when you wake up.
3. REMEMBER YOUR GOALS.
Think about your running goals and write them down, somewhere you’ll see them before your workout, advises Cunningham. “A visual really helps, so I encourage clients to write down their goals and keep them in a place they’ll see every day.”
TO HAVE A BETTER RIDE...
4. HAVE A HOME BASE.
“As a general base, you want to go for a pace and resistance where you can still hold a conversation but you’re putting in some effort,” says Cunningham. Once you know your starting level, she recommends adding in tougher intervals—by increasing resistance or RPMs (revolutions per minute)—and returning to your base to recover in between.
5. TAKE A STAND.
Don’t sit the entire time you’re riding; pedaling while you stand is a big part of most group cycling classes, and for good reason, says trainer Jessica Muenster. “Standing intervals help build upper body strength, work your core, and allow you to add more resistance because you’re working with your entire body strength.”
6. MAKE IT A (MENTAL) RACE.
Even though you’re pedaling by yourself, Moncourtois recommends envisioning that you’re racing someone on a bike next to you: “Get those RPMs higher, look straight forward, and win the race!”
TO HAVE A BETTER ELLIPTICAL SESSION...
7. STEP IT UP.
It’s easy to step onto an elliptical machine, dial your workout in, and go at a relatively easy level. But to get the most out of your time on the machine, you’ve got to mix it up. Moncourtois advises revving your heart rate by increasing not only the resistance but also the incline (if it’s adjustable) on your elliptical.
8. DON'T LEAN IN.
Even if you’ve cranked up the resistance on the elliptical, if you’re putting too much of your weight onto the machine’s handlebars, you’re not letting your lower body do enough work, says Muenster. “I always remind members in my Skyfit elliptical classes to not rest too heavily on the handlebars, keep their core strong, and focus on engaging their legs.”
TO HAVE A BETTER STRENGTH WORKOUT...
9. MAKE YOUR OWN MOTIVATION.
Thinking positive thoughts or repeating a mantra to yourself mid-workout can help you push through tough reps when you’re lifting weights. Trainer Amanda Murdoch recommends something like, “Your mind says no, but your body can do it!”
10. TRY TO BEAT YOURSELF.
Look for little improvements each workout, like cutting down on breaks. “Note things about your workout like if you had to pause four times or if you had to drop to your knees during a plank,” says Murdoch. “You’ll start to notice positive pattern changes—like you only had to pause or drop to your knees once.” These mini victories not only help you quantify your progress, but will keep you motivated to work even harder next time.