Seeing results can be a powerful motivator. So, what should you do to make your workout as effective as possible? Here are my tips to maximise your workout and make sure you start to see those all important results.
1. STRENGTH TRAINING
Lifting weights is highly effective at reducing body fat, because the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate. Muscle mass also increases insulin sensitivity so that your body is better able to process carbohydrates, which is a major bonus for long term weight management.
You will achieve the best results from multi joint lifting, and/or exercises that use the largest muscles in the body (e.g. deadlifts, weighted squats and lunges). This is what I focus on when programming for weight loss clients.
You need to lift a decent amount of weight, so pick a dumbbell, barbell or kettlebell that you can work with safely, but that challenges you. If you are unsure how much weight you should be lifting, please ask me!
2. INTERVAL TRAINING INSTEAD OF STEADY STATE CARDIO
For many years, it was believed that going non-stop when it comes to cardio (going for long, steady stints) was the best way to stay in your fat-burning zone, but this isn’t actually the case.
Instead, it’s best to replace that hour-long trek on the treadmill with a shorter span of speed intervals. Interval training has been shown to increase the hormones and enzymes involved in fat burning. It also raises your metabolic rate, known as ‘afterburn’, for several hours after you’ve completed your workout. Double the benefits!
3. BE INTENTIONAL WITH YOUR REST PERIODS
Time flies, especially when you get sucked into the social media black hole. You scroll and scroll and before you know it, 5+ minutes have passed between exercises. Whether you’re doing weight training, using machines, or completing body-weight exercises, it’s essential to be mindful of your rest periods.
On the one hand, you want to rest enough between strength sets (at least 30 seconds) to increase the amount of work that you can do. On the other hand, you want to keep your rest periods to a minimum, so that you can be efficient with your time in the gym.
A great way to make your rest periods work for you is to add in alternating exercises. A typical compound set involves exercises that use opposing muscle groups, different body regions or opposite muscle actions (so that one muscle group gets rest, while the other works). For example, alternating sets of squats and push ups.
To get better at a sport or to enhance your personal fitness, you must expose your body to physical stresses. However, your body needs to adapt to the stress it was under during your workout, and this is where it’s important to let your body recover properly.
So while it may seem like more exercise equals more (or faster) results, this isn't true. In order for your body to really perform while exercising, and to actually develop those muscles you’re trying to sculpt, you need to give your body rest days. Some other vital aspects of recovery (and training) are hydration, good nutrition and sleep.
Having said that, if you’re sore the day after an intense workout, one of the best ways to help your body repair is to get some light exercise. This may be a challenge when you’re feeling sore and taking the stairs is a big ask, but yoga, walking or swimming can help stimulate blood flow to tissues, remove waste and speed up muscle regeneration.
5. MIX IT UP AND KEEP IT INTERESTING
You don’t have to go to the gym. Find something that raises your heart rate that you enjoy. If the dance class you love to go to is only once a week, add in a long walk a couple of times a week, plus a circuit class at your local gym or boot camp once or twice a week.
6. INCIDENTAL EXERCISE
Don’t underestimate the value of incidental exercise, it plays a massive part in keeping the weight off, and keeping our hearts healthy. Some people think that an hour workout at the end of the day will counteract the amount of sitting they do during their sedentary day. Unfortunately this is not the case, so it’s important to move as much as you can during the day. Think about the small changes you could make – are there stairs you could use instead of the lifts? Could you get up and talk to your colleague instead of calling/emailing? Could you walk a few blocks away from work to have lunch?
For anyone who is concerned about whether they’re getting enough exercise, the National Heart Foundation recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week (including brisk walking).
Some of you may think that’s not much (30 minutes a day for 5 of the 7 days of the week), many people find it very hard to fit that in.
If you’re not moving enough, set yourself small goals and start adding it into your schedule or get in touch with me and we can put together an action plan to achieve this.