Ever noticed how you start a fitness programme with great enthusiasm but it peters off after a while? Or have you ever felt disheartened after hitting a weight loss plateau where the scales just refused to budge? Maybe it's time to get the most out of your workout.
The Americans have a great saying, "It's not about working hard, its more about working smart." And this applies not just to you in the office but to your workout as well. Here we explore some ways you can get to increase your fitness level and get the most benefit out of your workout.
Its about doing it correctly. Personal trainer Vineet Bahl says, "Sometimes people go in for too much machine work - A lot of women and men train using too often just their preferred machines, which limits their range of motion and does not work their muscles in an efficient and effective manner. Ultimately this can limit the engagement of small stabilizer muscles that give you maximum benefit throughout your fitness training program." Similarly, a lot of women do not opt for weight training which actually helps in long term muscle growth and is a great resistance exercise at any age. Also a lot of people feel that doing more repetitions of the same exercise will help and that only goes to tire them.
Not fueling your body
Exercise and fitness are ultimately great ways to burn fat. However, you also need a certain amount of energy to carry out your fitness programme properly. You need to ensure that you have enough for your body to go on, both before and after training. Your body is an engine that must be fed with high octane, good quality fuel to maximize your fitness results. Starving yourself before or after a fitness training workout limits your capacity to perform at peak levels. And its not just good food that you need but water too. Says Ajay Malik, Spa Manager at Espace Spa and Fitness Centre, "Do not allow your muscles to get dehydrated as that leads to fatigue. Always drink water before, during and after our workout session."
Keeping it Boring and Routine
The same workout has some minus pints. Number one, it always ends up using the same muscle group as always, which leads you to fitness plateau. Secondly it gets boring and lastly, it never helps your body to jump start into a new and improved fitness zone.
With interval training, you alternate short, fairly intense spurts of exercise with periods of relatively easy exercise. For example, say you're out bicycling. After warming up for 15 minutes or so, you may try cycling all-out for 30 seconds and follow this with a few minutes of easy pedaling until your heart rate slows down a little, to about 120 or fewer beats per minute. Then you do another tough 30-second interval, and so on. In essence, you're switching between the low and high ends of your target zone.
When you first try interval training, keep the high-intensity periods short - 15 to 30 seconds. Follow these periods with at least three times as much active rest (so, 45 to 90 seconds). Active rest means that you keep moving between intervals instead of stopping dead. So after you do that 30-second bike sprint, pedal slowly for about 90 seconds. You may need even more recovery than that, especially if you're a beginner. As you become more accustomed to higher levels, you can increase the length of the high-intensity intervals as you decrease the length of the low-intensity intervals.
Tempo workouts help you learn to move faster. During a tempo drill, you move at a pace that you consider challenging but not brutal, keeping that pace for four to ten minutes. Do that a couple of times each workout. In between, exercise at your normal pace. If you're new to tempo training, begin with short tempos and gradually increase their length. Anyone training for a local road race or a bike-a-thon will find tempo work helpful.
Not indulging yourself
Any fitness workout that does not make you happy is not going to last for a long time. If you prefer to play a game and you end up sweating in the gym, you will ultimately get bored of it. The secret to any good fitness routine is to look forward to it and enjoy it. Vineet explains, "If you do cardio or workouts thrice a week, then ad din yoga twice a week, or go for a swim twice a week. If you keep doing the same workout day in and day out it will begin to seem like a punishment to you." Ajay also feels that adding interesting music or tempo to your workout is half the battle won, as it helps to regularize your own rhythm. Also a good idea is to reward yourself with nice workout gear or a day off when you find that your fitness goals are being reached in the timelines you have set for yourself.
Going at it alone
Let's face it, if you had the ability to get into peak condition on your own, you would have done it by now. It's a good idea to join a neighborhood gym and get in touch with the personal trainer there who will help you get to understand what you need to do. Or you could go one step ahead and get a workout buddy. This will help you to get into shape faster and you will also get the motivation to get into your training circuit when you have someone else around.
In the end, a positive attitude and enjoying what you do is what really matters. Also there is really no better motivation for you than an improved fitness level. So go ahead, just do it.
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