Sorry for the absence the last couple weeks. Been busy with work and the basketball season starting (all good things) but I’m back now and ready to hit some topics our readers have asked about.
When the topic of fitness and health in general come up many people relate it to weight/fat loss. This is a little saddening, but something our country as a whole deals with. (America rocks for many reasons, but we – as a whole – are fat and lazy, which doesn’t rock)
Simply put, we need to move more and eat less. This is very un-scientific, but puts our weight loss solution in a nutshell.
No magic pill and late-night infomercial required, a little hard work, done consistently, yields results. Likewise, choosing quality foods on a consistent basis will fuel our active lifestyles and produce a body that looks as good as it performs.
*note: form will usually follow function. Move more, move better, get stronger, eat healthy foods, stay hydrated, remove/deal with stress, and the results will surface*
Let’s go a little deeper into the exercise. Cardio, strength training, intervals, flexibility, mobility, pre-hab, re-hab, functional…there’s a lot of “hot” topics in the fitness world and it can be a bit overwhelming at times. Let’s break it down.
As a basic equation, calories in<calories out=weight loss. Burning more calories each day than we take in will result in losing weight. We want to be healthy, however, so avoid starving yourself and eat healthier foods. Also avoid becoming a treadmill slave. There’s better (and more fun) ways to burn those calories.
Exercise can burn calories in two ways; during our workout and after our workout (by way of an increased metabolism). Keeping our metabolism revved up day-in and day-out is a key to shedding pounds and keeping them off. Intense exercise (think lifting weights and running sprints) will burn more total calories than easy-moderate exercise (think 45 minutes on the elliptical machine or treadmill). Haven’t lifted weights before? Haven’t run sprints since high school track practice? Don’t worry, we all have to start somewhere and should progress slowly over time (but don’t forget to progress…)
The benefits of resistance/strength training and interval training (i.e. sprints with rest in between) include an increased metabolism for longer periods of time after the workout is over, greater change in body composition (building lean muscle), and shorter workouts to achieve these results!!
That’s right, shorter workouts – more results. Win-win.
It makes sense. We can’t workout at a high intensity for hours on end, but you could probably walk for an hour or longer with no trouble. But, will walking burn a lot of calories and help you build long, lean, fat-burning muscle? (I hope you answered NO)
Quality vs. Quantity. So many people think that their only hope of losing weight is somehow related to how many hours they can spend on a piece of cardio equipment every day/week/month. That sounds pitifully boring to me. When time is short, and it often seems to be, a short, intense workout can keep you on the path to improved health (and skinnier jeans).
So what should I be doing? I’ll post a more detailed workout later this week (and hopefully some video, camera is in the mail), but following the outline below will have you training smarter right away.
- Warmup: 5-10 minutes total. Think movement. This is one time where I do recommend the elliptical machine-get blood flowing throughout the body. Light calisthenics or dynamic stretching can follow.
- Strength training: 10-20 minutes. Choose exercises that include a full range of motion and target the body’s natural movement patterns; squat (2 leg), lunge (1 leg), upper body push (various angles), upper body pull (various angles), and core stability/rotation. Perform these exercises in sequence to create a calorie-burning circuit, i.e. Squat/Push Up/Row/Step Up/Shoulder Press/Pull Up/Plank.
- Intervals/Cardio: 10-20 minutes. If you’re new to exercise, start with steady-state cardio and work up to performing 20 minutes continuous. Once this gets easy, play around with intervals (a bike is a good start as it is easy on the joints). Warm up for a minute or two, then increase the intensity for 10-15 seconds of hard work followed by easier work for 45-50 seconds. This would create a one-minute “round” – try 6 to start and work your way up to 12. Really work hard for that 10-15 seconds. Remember, intensity will cause a bigger boost to our metabolism.
- Cooldown/Stretch: 5 minutes. Allow your body to gradually cooldown. Stretch tight muscles and focus on deep, controlled breathing. You’ll leave the gym feeling relaxed and wake up the next morning without all that nasty stiffness.
That’s it. In as little as 30 minutes you’ve got a great total-body workout. Give it a try. Beats slow, monotonous cardio any day in my book.
If you compete in distance races, or enjoy long bouts of cardio, please don’t be offended. Do what you enjoy. This rant has simply been to enlighten the public on exercise options that will help in their weight loss journey (especially with holidays approaching and the new year around the corner).
Remember – consistency is king in any exercise program and/or eating habits. Stick with it, you can do whatever you set out to achieve. Avoid the crash/fad diets or newstand magazine exercise routines. Make the commitment to a healthy lifestyle and your physique will come around. Just give it a little time.
Make it a great day.
“live like no one else, so later, you can live like no one else”