Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tricks to Firm up Fast

You don’t have too much time to spend in the gym? I’ve heard that story countless times. We always make time for what’s important, but the truth is we do also have pretty busy lives. The good news is that there are some tricks to get the most out of your workout in the least time. As I said a few weeks ago, there is no use sitting in the gym for hours on end just to be there, when you can stay for a short time and max out your workout. Your time is tres important, so being smart about it is the key.

Don’t slow down: It seems easy enough, right? But you do firm up the most when you go at your max for a short time, rather than go at a medium energy level for an extended period. Going at your max means intense bursts of cardio, and circuit strength training. Have you ever seen the people that do interval training when it comes to cardiovascular exercise? Like a burst of energy and speed, and then medium speed, another burst, then medium speed, and so on? Or the people that do a circuit of like 5 strength exercises over and over without a break in-between? Yes, they know a secret that you don’t. What’s the secret? You build muscles by tearing up your muscles to the max and then giving them time to repair. So if you lift as much as you possibly can, run around on different machines and really tear up your muscles without a break, and then go home and rest, that rest would be so good on your body that you would actually see the difference. The only negative is that this type of intense workout session should not be done every day because then your muscles are not given the chance to repair themselves.

Five is better than Zero: Well, a 2 year old can tell you that. We get so caught up in “looking for time to exercise” that we don’t realize that we could do bursts of exercise anytime, especially strength training. You know what's better than 5 minutes of nothing? 5 minutes of exercise! We’ve been blessed with our own body weight, right? So if your favorite TV show is on a commercial break, why not do 5 minutes of pushups? If you’re waiting for someone to show up to drop something off, do some sit-ups or squats. It does add up. You could find that you go from 0 minutes of exercise in your day to 15 minutes.

Hang out plus exercise: You dance, right? No? Well, you do now! Multitask by hanging out with your friends and getting a workout at the same time. I know you move around in your seat when [insert most recent club-banger here] comes on when you’re out with your friends. Get up and dance to it then!

Change your abdominal exercises: Yea, we all know how to crunch, but you could benefit so much more (and faster) if you vary the exercises you do for your belly. In fact, you could even incorporate tools like a stability ball that help to target all the different abdominal muscles at once. Don’t just do crunches and sit-ups; that would take you forever, and could hurt your neck as well.

Slow down your strength training: Yes, yes, I noticed that this seems to contradict the first thing I said, but let me shed some more light. A lot of people rush through their reps when they strength-train, and don’t give their bodies time to get the most out of the workout. For example, when you’re doing a squat, do you pulse quickly just to get over with it as soon as possible? Try a different approach. Slow it down. When you go into a squat (or any other repetitive exercise), go as far as you can, pause in the position for one second, and then come up. Tell me how your muscles feel after. You could be doing exactly the same exercise as someone else and not letting yourself feel all the benefits of the exercise. So when next you strength-train, give yourself time to feel the burn in the contracted position before you extend. Tear up those muscles a little bit more. But don’t use the excuse of doing fewer repetitions because you feel more pain. Do the same as you would have if you were going fast.

So what did we learn today, class? Go faster, harder, and tear up your muscles in a shorter span of time than going at an average intensity, and exercise wherever and whenever you can no matter how little.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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