In today's fast-paced and busy world, it's often hard to find the time needed to really work on those fitness goals and obtain that body image we want to see in ourselves. As Dr. Figura stated in his motivational video on weight loss, one of the key ingredients to reaching success is consistency.
While we all know it's much easier said than done when it comes to being consistent with diet and exercise goals, we at HealFast, wanted to provide you some additional guidance on how to make the best of your workout (when you're able to get it in) to help see results sooner and keep those spirits high as you continue your regiment.
Cardio: Quit Running set times and distances religiously
Ask most avid runners or track & field junkies and they will tell you to mix it up! Running is hard on the body and can be time intensive in some cases. Running the same amount or same speed every day or multiple times a week can wear the body down and quickly establish a physiological baseline. Meaning that the marginal benefits of the exercise in reaching your fitness goal get less and less as you get stuck in a set routine.
If shedding pounds and maximizing cardiovascular strength is your goal, try interval training both on the day of exercise and in rotating with your running schedule.
Summed up, if you run 3x a week, make Run #1 = 2 miles, Run #2 = 4 miles, Run #3 = 3 or 1 miles. If you choose to do a short run during the week, do it fast! Add in intervals by selecting key landmarks along your route (if running outside) or at certain mile points (if on machine) and sprint for designated distance or time.
Interval training will help you build muscle and endurance faster and help the body burn fat faster than consistent-paced running! Be forewarned, interval training and sprints are hard but it’s worth it!
Breathing Control - master it and see results improve
Breathing is important… duh. Try holding your breath and see what happens. But when it comes to exercise, breathing is often overlooked as an important part of your form. Whether it is cardio, weight lifting, stretching, (probably everything except yoga in which it is part of the OHMM mantra).
For weight lifting, it is important to take a deep long inhale breath on the “negative”, i.e. the motion that resets a rep after completion. An example is lowering the forearm after contracting it in doing a bicep curl. Then when you commence the contraction of the muscle you hold it slightly 2/3rds through the motion and then breath out smoothly and strongly.
Not only will this help you relieve pressure and tension in the body and improve flow of oxygen (over holding your breath), it may also give you the leverage needed to lift a heavier weight (depending on the exercise). In regard to running, breathe so that you exhale right after striking the ground with your foot. Remember to alternate feet on which you exhale off of, all about balancing it out!
Breathing control is also important as it will help you focus your mind and slow your actions to ensure the rest of your movements are smooth, controlled, and deliberate which will drastically improve your final results in the coming weeks.
Apex Muscle Flexing: Flex that muscle at the end of each rep
Another technique to perfect your form and increase your results timeline is flexing the muscle being exercised at the very end/apex of the motion.
This technique can be done with any exercise and should only requires 1-2 extra seconds per rep. Now you might be thinking, doesn’t that mean I take more time per exercise, what gives!?
Well, yes, it might add another 30 seconds to your 15-rep set, but in the long run it has many more benefits, the primary being, you will see enhanced muscle tone and strength much sooner than if this part of your technique is neglected. Just like breathing control above, ensuring that this is part of your motion will help you maintain control of your movement and your work out results.
The “Flex” is part of proper form from a muscle strengthening perspective, and you will be surprised at how fast you get tired adding this 2 second step to your workout routine. You are definitely going to feel it, give it a try!
Slow Negatives: Don't just drop that weight
This piece of advice is something that has been growing in popularity and proliferation throughout the exercise community, but nonetheless I wanted to add it here to help keep it alive!
As defined above, the negative is the relaxing of the muscle, post contraction, that resets the exercise to its starting position. In many gyms, people still seemingly contract the muscle and then neglect the negative.
In some studies, the negative motion was cited as responsible for up to 2/3 of the muscle growth during exercise! The slow and controlled relaxing motion of the exercises causes more calorie burn and (good) muscle tearing that helps build stronger and healthier muscles upon recovery.
Everyone handles their negatives differently, but I would choose a consistent number to count to over 1-2 breaths while performing the motion. Yes - it may add time to the workout, but you will feel the difference and see results. Be careful if you suffer from tendonitis or fail to stretch properly, the ligaments will definitely be given a work out when applying this form for the first time.
So in Conclusion…
Be willing to try new things and mix it up while staying consistent with your weekly workout schedule. Time is always a valuable commodity, and I am sure most would don’t want to spend hours in the gym without seeing or feeling the desired results. If you are going to spend time in the gym give focus to the points above and you will be maximizing your results for the exercises performed in roughly the same amount of time.
I hope you enjoyed this post and if so, feel free to comment and add questions below and don’t forget to sign up to our Facebook and Twitter accounts for new releases and share with family and loved ones! As always, until next post, stay informed and be healthy!