If you have the drive, you can shed some pounds and increase your muscle tone in just a few weeks. Follow these ten rules, and you will enjoy your summer body as much as the sun.
Bottom line: a strict dedication to your diet and exercise routine will yield results, but nothing is ever easy. Television has taught us that a simple “Thighmaster” will get your whole body in shape, and that carbs are “evil”.
This is simply not the case. Getting in shape takes loads of time, dedication, and attention to your eating habits.
In other words, don’t start following these rules one week before you fly off to Tahiti, or if you’re taking the hubby and kids to Disneyland. The sooner you start, the better the results will be. My advice would be to start your plan of attack even before the summer season hits. Train hard in the winter, and you’ll reap the benefits all summer.
The following 10 rules should be followed when getting ready for your summer vacation exercise routine.
1. Join a gym
Sounds easy enough, but there is some logic behind this. If you decide to take your exercise program to your living room, statistics show that this idea will most likely fail.
More than 50% of people who buy at home exercise equipment, use it sparingly, or not at all.
Let your exercise mind state and intensity be somewhere other than your home. Joining a gym will help you stay on track, and keep certain energies and elements in the place that they belong.
2. Choose your days
How many days a week will I work out? How many minutes each day? These are questions that have to be answered before you walk into a gym, and just jump from machine to machine with no real plan.
The National Academy of Sports Medicine calls for at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, to make a difference in your body and overall health. Exercising most days of the week works best, so plan for your routine to be at least 4 days a week ideally.
3. Weights before cardio
Weight lifting and cardio should be done on the same day, with cardio coming after the weight lifting portion.
Cardiovascular activity is most beneficial after weight training, because of the way your body uses stored energy from carbohydrates. If you do cardio before your weights, your body will deplete glycogen stores, and you will have no energy for lifting weights.
Lifting weights before your workout will also give your body an excellent metabolic boost, thus burning more fat and calories during your cardio afterward.
Everybody is different, but the basic guideline should be about 3 days a week for weight training. Cardio can be done 5 to 6 days a week.
4. Seek advice
This is the best way to learn how to get in shape. Most gyms will offer a complimentary training session or orientation, so take advantage of this.
Also, check out the schedule of classes offered. This is the best way to learn how to use free weights and proper form with certain exercises. If you feel you need even more assistance, hire a personal trainer.
Personal trainers are educated in planning the best workout routine for you, based on your body type, fitness level, and goals. Working with a trainer even for a few short weeks will teach you invaluable information on correct exercise form, the structure of your workouts, as well as your diet.
5. Don’t seek advice
Ok, so you’ve decided to strut into the gym, YouQueen article in hand, and are going to do this on your own. This can work, but you have to know what exercises to do.
Compound movements are exercises that work more than one muscle group. These are the exercises that you normally want to start your weight training workout with.
Examples of compound movements are: squats, lunges, leg press, dumbell chest press, lat pulldowns, military press, deadlifts, and seated rows.
Isolated movements are exercises that use one muscle. These are typically done toward the end of your workout. Examples of these are: bicep curls, triceps pushdowns, leg extension, leg curls, and crunches.
If you are starting a new workout routine, sleep is one of the most important factors. During sleep, your body repairs muscle fibers that have been damaged during your workout.
This repair is essential for building lean muscle. Without proper sleep, this repairing is inhibited, and you will not see results. Sleep loss also causes the body to produce cortisol, and other stress hormones, which can inhibit weight loss.
Losing sleep will also affect your workouts, because who wants to run on the treadmill on 2 hours of sleep?
7. Carbs are not evil
You just have to know which carbs to pick. This is something that can be very confusing.
First you must know, that carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel for energy. The problem with carbs are that if we eat too many of the wrong ones, we cause an insulin spike in our body. With this up and down roller coaster of insulin spiking, our body begins to gain weight.
The faster your body absorb a given carbohydrate, the more of an insulin release you will get. Choose carbs that generally have less ingredients, and not so many “flours”. The less refined the carb is, the slower your body will absorb it, and you will not have a mega insulin release.
Shoot for brown rice, plain oatmeal, or whole wheat pasta. Fruits and vegetables are obviously the healthy choice, and most vegetables can be snacked on throughout the day without any ill effect. Choose fruits with edible skin, as they provide a good amount of fiber.
8. About that cardio
Cardiovascular activity, such as running, jumping rope, and bike riding, are essential to burning fat and keeping your body healthy. When done correctly, cardio can stimulate your metabolism and get your heart nice and strong.
The formula for finding your target heart rate is easy. Just subtract your age from 220, and this is your maximum heart rate. You want to achieve a heart rate of about 65-75% of this number throughout your workout, and never fall out of the “twelve beat window”.
So, if your target heart rate is 155, you should try to not let it fall below 143, or go above 167. If you stay in that zone, you will achieve the best cardiovascular benefit.
9. Mix it up, and make it fun
All exercise programs have what is known as “acute variables”. These are the numbers that determine the intensity and type of workout, such as the speed you are running, or the amount of weight you are lifting.
Mixing up the variables will make the workout more fun, and will also challenge your body differently every time you enter the gym. When you get on the treadmill, mix up the workout. If you ran at 5.5 for 20 minutes the last time you did a treadmill workout, try doing intervals, such as walking at 4.0 for one minute, then running at a speed of 7.0 for the next minute.
Repeat this pattern for 20 minutes. This is an example of changing variables. This will challenge your body, as well as change it!
Just because summer is over, doesn’t mean working out is too. Exercise is something that should be done at least 3x a week, and maintained for as long as you live.
Keep your body moving, and you will have a healthy heart, nicely shaped and strong muscles, and you will lose and maintain a healthy weight.
So get to the gym, and start changing your life. You will feel the best you have felt in a long time, I promise! Good luck and stay healthy!