THE BLOG
01/12/2015 01:36 pm ET Updated Mar 14, 2015

Maximize Your Workout: Using Count to Make It Count!

You've probably read a lot of posts already this week with titles like "New Year. New You!" "Blast That Holiday Bely Fat!" or "Ways to Actually Keep Your New Year's Resolutions!" This isn't one of those posts, but it is meant to be read alongside those type of posts.

You know the drill -- it's that time of year, and I do think that the new year is a wonderful time to set goals for yourself. But I'm not crazy about guilt-inspiring commercials making you regret the wonderful time you had over the holidays or the huge spike in fad-diet product sales during the month of January. I am a fan of becoming newly aware of small changes that when done consistently can make a big difference. Ones that you don't feel pressured to make and ones that you can keep in your Healthy Life Toolbox and use again and again. That's what this post is about -- a small change that can easily become part of your existing routine!

Ah, working out -- usually at the top of the New Year checklist! Everyone knows that burpees will get your heart pumping quickly, that squats are great for your thighs, and that push-ups are a simple tool that can give you arms even Michelle Obama could envy.

But what brings your workout to the next level is a commitment to form, breath, and how you do the exercise. Thirty minutes of good form, variety, and intensity beats an hour of lackluster cardio and lazy sit-ups any day.

A smarter, form-based workout not only means better results, but it's also time saved... to watch another episode of Homeland or another series on your 2015 TV to-do list -- (or any other to do list!). Think of it this way: the more connected your workout is, the more efficient and effective you are, the shorter your workout is, and bingo! Just like that, you're given a priceless gift: time!

In this first installment of "Maximizing Your Workout," it's all about count. Every series of exercises you do has a designed set of reps and movements, and every movement can have a count. The way you move and keep count is just as important as form; it can change your whole workout. When done correctly, your count can drive your muscles to work and fatigue faster, allowing you to maximize your workout time.

Learn these new counts to power your body and boost your confidence in the new year. You can add the different counts and variations to almost any exercise you already do -- squats, push-ups, bicep curls, etc. I use all of these counts in my classes at Nalini Method, and I'll be the first to admit that they do make things harder, but they create such effective and efficient results!

1. Single count: The single count is what you'd expect. It's a simple up/down (or applicable variations like down/up, out/in, open/close) motion. You should be precise and focused with every rep.

2. Double count: The double count breaks the single count into parts. Instead of up/down, you'll move up-up/down-down. It's a four-part motion, and instead of moving fluidly, you're treating each part as its own individual, precise motion.

3. Pulses: Think of pulses like a bounce, a quick repeated beat. It's the quickest of the counts. Once you're in the peak of your form (for example, the lowest point of your squat) instead of going fully up or down, you do a repeated tiny pulsing motion while you stay in position.

4. Multi count: This is definitely the most complicated of the counts. It is a combination of a pulse and a single. Three pulses and a drop, specifically. For example: Up up up/down or lift lift lift/lower. The down is a usually a deep down, meaning you feel a full range; at the top of your range is the pulse bounce and at the bottom of the range is where you drop for the single count.

5. Hold: This is where you remain stationary, holding onto particular muscles while focusing intently on form. This can sometimes be harder than any contraction or movement. Do the holds in full; although it's tempting to move, perform your holds for a minimum of 5 counts!

So how do you apply this to your workout? Let's look at push-ups for example. Instead of 20 push-ups, try 10 double-count and 10 single count. Instead of 20 sit-ups, do 15 multi-count and a five-count hold at the end. You can build it anyway you like. That's the beauty of it; every workout can be different, even if the exercises stay the same!

Good luck and have fun! These counts are a great way to add variety and new challenges to your workouts. Once you're familiar with these different tempos, you'll notice a huge difference and can really own your workout. Be sure to comment with any questions or to share your experiences. Happy New Year!