"I say all the time in class, 'Stop making your grocery list in your head while you're working out,'" said Katami. "Because your central nervous system actually connects the brain to the muscle while you're working, so you really want to make sure that when you're working that muscle that you're connected to it and that you're telling it to work and to drive."
While it's true that doing just the basics can help overall health, personal trainer Tom Legath says it won't do much to change body composition.
"If you want to increase fitness and you want to get stronger and better at what you're doing, you need to overload your body," said Legath. "You need to give it new stimulus so that the body can adapt."
When running, for example, adding stairs or elevation can boost heart rate by 90 percent.
In a group exercise class where a step is involved, put another riser under the platform to increase height, thereby increasing energy expenditure.
Jumping rope for 10 minutes burns about 100 calories for a 140-pound woman, but even 10 minutes is tough, so keep the program going, rocking side to side until you're ready to jump again so you can work out longer.
Swimmers can make gains by alternating strokes. Butterfly, breast and backstroke are best to maximize calorie burn; don't just practice freestyle.
Indoor cyclists should check the instrument panel to work a least a 12-mile-per-hour pace.
If tennis is your game, say goodbye to your partner and get into a singles game. One-on-one tennis burns 33 percent more calories than doubles.
If weights are your thing, keep moving. Nonstop workouts burn 25 percent more calories, so move from one exercise to the next with little break.
Finally, remember that interval training, where exercise is altered by time, intensity, and variation, can improve speed and performance along with burning fat. Pushing the intensity to eight or nine on a scale of one to 10 (for a short period of time) means muscles use more oxygen and more energy is expended.
Alternating weights with cardio, circuit training, even different modes of cardiovascular machines, can make a big difference.
So before you put your program on auto-pilot, put down the magazine and kick it up a notch.