5 Signs You Need a Shakeup to Your Shapeup

SONY DSCWhen it comes to exercise, it’s always good to mix it up a bit, but there are also times when your exercise routine may be ready for a more major overhaul. Because exercise is a personal thing, and your workout results (and problems) can only be recognized by you, here are a few things to be on the lookout for to determine if you need a shakeup in your shapeup. No matter if you’re a novice to physical fitness or an expert, here are 5 signs that you need to switch up your exercise regime ASAP! –

  1.  If you’re working out and eating properly, you should be seeing results. If you aren’t seeing anything noticeable in the mirror, or if your clothing sizes haven’t changed (or gotten tighter), it’s likely that you need a new exercise routine. With the right routine, you should be able to watch your body transform, even if it is only a little bit. Inches should be coming off and you should start to see more tone to your body.
  2. If in the beginning you wanted to lose weight and improve your endurance, so you did a lot of cardio exercises, such as running on the treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, etc. However, now that you’ve lost weight and built-up your endurance, you want to focus more on gaining muscle, which requires lifting weights. When your fitness goals change, your workout routine should change with them.
  3. Exercising releases hormones within the brain that are supposed to induce a happier mood. If you’re unhappy with your exercise routine, you rush through your exercises, you cannot wait to get out of the gym, or you find yourself losing focus when you work out, you may be bored. A boring workout is never a good one, and it only makes sense to change it. Being unhappy with your workouts means that you aren’t doing exercises that make you feel good. You should be enthused (okay if ‘enthused’ doesn’t quite describe you, let’s just say you shouldn’t dread your workout), and by the end of it all you should be happy with the physical activity that you do.
  4. You could do your workout routine with your eyes closed. You don’t sweat nearly as much as you used to. You don’t have to put forth a lot of effort to complete your workout. When your workout becomes a walk in the park instead of a challenge, it’s definitely time to change things around. You want your workouts to challenge you and to cause you to push yourself to the limit. If you are going to take the time to exercise, you might as well make it count.
  5. Since the day you’ve started working out until now, you’re been doing the same exact exercise. Even though you’re comfortable with this routine, it’s always helpful to switch up your routine at least every couple of weeks. Doing the same workout for months at a time could not only lead to boredom, but your body get used to the workout and you may find that your exercises are now completely and ineffective.

How to Pump That Iron – 6 Principles of Weight Training

Strength training, a.k.a. resistance training, a.k.a. weight training, pumping iron, bodyweight training, lifting weights… whatever you call it, it’s one of the most beneficial forms of exercise for everyone regardless of age, gender or fitness background.

P.s. – it’s never too late, and you’re not too old to get started.  With that said, there is the right way and the not so right way to weight train, so here are some important principles to follow to ensure maximum benefit while minimizing the chance of injury.

  • Resistance. You have to use the right resistance to build muscle.  The amount of resistance has to be above what you are accustomed to in everyday life. So put down the soup can size dumbbells and choose something a little heavier. Not too easy, not to hard… but it should be just enough to allow you to finish your desired number of repetitions.
  • Balance.  Make sure you work your entire body to avoid imbalances in strength and posture and to avoid injury. Ever notice the guy who has an amazing chest, back and arms, only to see little chicken legs that never see the light of resistance?
  • Rest.  Rest between sets of each exercise for about 30 to 90 seconds.  This will provide your muscles with the proper recovery time prior to your next set.  Old school theory says that you should rest each body part a minimum of 48 hours before you train that same body part again. But the reality is that for maximum benefit, 72 – 96 hours is much better. Think about training each muscle group once a week.
  • Proper Technique.  This is my fave, and also my biggest pet peeve. Proper technique will ensure you are working the muscles designed for each exercise and help alleviate injuries. It also makes sure you aren’t just wasting your time. If you take the time to exercise, do it right to get the biggest bang for your buck.  You also want to breathe properly throughout the lift, exhaling as you lift the weight and inhaling as the weight is lowered.  Seek out the guidance of a certified trainer if you are a beginner or have questions.
  • Work. Make your muscles do the work. You will activate more muscle fibers and get a much better result if you lift and lower weights with purpose through your range of motion.  If you can’t lift a weight without swinging it or using momentum, it’s too heavy and you should lower the amount of weight you are attempting to lift. You might look cool lifting all that weight, but you are wasting your time and looking to get injured.
  • Attention. Pay attention to your body.  Never work through intense pain, and learn the difference between pain and muscle soreness/fatigue.  Muscle fatigue is that feeling when your muscles are tired, but pain makes you want to stop the movement.

These simple principles are a great starting point to your strength training plan. Whatever you want to call it, please make it a part of your exercise program.

I Want to Burn More Fat

Did you know that your body burns fat or carbs depending on the intensity of your activity? You burn fat even if your body is at rest. Actually, you are even burning fat right now sitting in the front of your computer. Your body is burning about one or two calories per minute (about 70 % comes from fat and about 30% comes from carbs).

When you exercise, as the intensity increases, your body starts using more and more carbohydrates for energy instead of fat. With high intensity aerobic exercise, 100 percent of the energy is coming from carbs. But here is where it gets interesting…when carbs are no longer available, your body will break down muscle and use it for energy. When carbohydrate stores are depleted, the rate at which fat is used as energy is reduced, and that’s why carbs are essential in order to metabolize fat.

The best way to lose fat is when you burn more calories than you eat on a daily basis, not because you burn fat when you are exercising.

When you eat after your workout, you rapidly replenish both the carbs and fats that you have used up during the workout. But as soon as an excess of calories (from either fats or carbohydrates) exists, your body will begin to store them as fat. So don’t go pig out after your workout or your body’s fat stores will be virtually unchanged.

This is why diet + exercise really do work the best, but your exercise regime must include cardio and WEIGHT TRAINING. When in doubt, do resistance training.

The key to fat loss is to manage your calories, so your body doesn’t store them as fat, and to boost your metabolism so that your body is continuously burning calories at a higher rate 24/7. People with muscle mass are automatically burning more calories (and fat). Every 1 pound of muscle that you build on your body will burn up to 3,000 extra calories a month which equals roughly .5 pounds of fat. I know that .5 pounds doesn’t sound like much, but that .5 pounds is burned by doing nothing but sitting around. It is a way to give you an added advantage as you continue on your weight loss path.  Bonus – more muscle makes you look healthier and slimmer!

So, the perfect combo is healthy diet, resistance training, and cardio.

For a Short Bout of Exercise – Take the Stairs

 

To take the stairs or not to take the stairs… that is the question.

I was recently on jury duty, and the courtroom that we were in was on the seventh floor, so I rode up and down the elevator many times during the day, many days in a row. What I found interesting was that many of the people were riding the elevator up or down for one just one floor.  Definitely an opportunity missed…

In a recent study, British researchers confirmed that some exercise is better than nothing.

Researchers found that for sedentary people, even a few minutes of daily stair climbing – a vigorous but easily accessible form of exercise – can improve cardiovascular health.

Previous studies have shown that accumulating short bouts of exercise can make a difference; this one shows just how short those bouts can be.

Twenty-two sedentary college-aged women walked up 199 steps – more than you’re likely to find at home, but doable in a high-rise – in 2.25 minutes, a “brisk but comfortable” pace which shot their heart rates up to 90 percent of their predicted maximum.

They progressed from one ascent per day during the first week to six ascents per day, for a total of 13.5 minutes over the course of a day, during the sixth and seventh weeks.

By the end of this modest exercise program, the women were measurably more fit: Heart rate, oxygen uptake and blood lactate levels during climbing were reduced, and their HDL (”good”) cholesterol levels had increased.  Source: Preventive Medicine, 2000; 30, 4, 277-281 via acefintess.org

My husband has been on a stair climbing kick lately, because he is so busy at work, he has no time for the gym. He works on the 10th floor of his building, and takes the stairs up and down at least once a day. Now, I’m not saying that his weight loss is 100% because of the stairs (some of it is because his awesome wife only serves healthy food), but he has lost over 30 pounds in the last year or so.

Make a new rule – three flights of stairs or less, skip the elevator and hoof it.

Achieve Physical Confidence

Everyone pretty much knows that exercise does a body good, and as mortal humans, we need to exercise. There are 100s of reasons to exercise including  improved heart health, living longer, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, weight control, and increased bone and muscle strength… just to name a few of my favorites.

Some exercise is better than none, more exercise is generally better than less, and no exercise can be disastrous. But just in case you need a few more reasons, here you go.

Self-confidence relates to our self–assuredness in our personal judgment, ability, and self-worth. Exercise is an important tool that helps us achieve physical confidence. Beyond day-to-day energy demands, the ability to be physically fit and able to meet any physical situation is very empowering.

Here are 7 ways in which exercise boosts confidence:

Sense of Achievement: Exercise is great for giving you the feeling that you have done something rather than just sitting around.

Change of Mindset: Stressed out? Lost in anxious and negative thoughts? Doing physical exercise can shake this mindset and make you feel confident and positive.

Enhanced well-being: When you exercise, the body releases chemical substances known as endorphins which relieve stress and make you feel good psychologically. This will absolutely boost your confidence because you physically feel better. It’s like nature’s Prozac.

Appearance: Exercise tones you up and can enhance any body shape. Feeling attractive and good about the way you look pumps up your self-confidence.

Anchors Ahoy: Exercise acts as a reliable anchor point and can make you feel in charge. When it feels like you are in control of nothing, one thing you can control is how to be active. Make the choice to exercise and enjoy being in charge of at least one thing during your day.

  The Social Butterfly Effect: Whether it is joining a gym, walking in the neighborhood park, attending a yoga or dance class, exercise gives us the opportunity to meet new people. New friends can be a great self-confidence boost.

 Competition: Exercises can ignite that competitive you. Challenge yourself to work out harder, run farther, or do an extra rep, lift a heavier weight, or even try a new exercise class. Going past your limit makes you feel on the top of the world.

 

Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Flickr button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button Youtube button