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Power Swaps: The game-changing habit that revs your metabolism

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Healthy changes often come as a result of major dedication and discipline—like pre-dawn workouts and ordering kale salad instead of moules frites and red wine (darn you, Olivia Pope). But small, yet powerful changes can boost your wellness as much as big sacrifices can. In this new Well+Good series, we share some seriously smart yet simple swaps. Introducing Power Swaps.

One of the very best things about working out is that it pays dividends after the fact, burning energy (read: calories) for hours after you’ve showered off and are sitting at your desk.

To truly maximize those metabolic gains, heavy weights evangelist Rob Sulaver—owner of Bandana Training in New York City—says the number one move women can make is to swap three- or five-pounders for a heavier set of weights—at least for a few rounds. “You’ll get stronger and leaner.”

Research definitely backs that assertion, showing that hitting heavy weights can help burn body fat and calories up to a day after your workout, according to Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

If you want to see progress, it’s absolutely essential to pick up something heavier, or change up your set and rep scheme, Sulaver says. Here’s how:

Rob Sulaver
(Photo: Rob Sulaver)

1. Find the right weight for you. It might take a bit of trial and error.

“You’ll know it’s the right amount of weight if the last rep of each set is a struggle,” says Sulaver. If it feels easy, you haven’t gone high enough. If it’s impossible, back off.

2. If you’ve been lifting for a bit, don’t put out a plateau welcome mat. Instead, change your set and reps. “See how four sets of eight reps feels,” he adds. “A doozy!”

3. Then keep at it to see change. Sulaver’s timeline for seeing things really shift? “Two weeks to feel a difference, four weeks for you to notice a difference, [and] eight weeks for others to start to comment,” he promises.

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(Photo at top: Richard Foster)