Metabolism Boosting Workouts
Going to the gym can be an exercise in frustration. After the initial burst of muscle building and perhaps some weight loss, many people get stuck. They show up and do the workout they think they should, but the results don't follow. After a while, the enthusiasm fades and many people quit.
The problem is your workout. Traditional exercise programs only help with short-term gains. If you want results for the long-term, then follow these four simple rules.
1. Quit doing so many isolated exercises. Do you have a specific day for biceps, another for chest, another for you back and still another for your legs? Unless you're a competitive bodybuilder fine-tuning specific parts of your anatomy, the majority of your exercises should work multiple muscles. They're called compound joint exercises.
When you do compound joint exercises, you're engaging more muscle fibers, raising your heart rate and kicking your metabolism into high gear. As you experience that elevated heart rate, you know you're burning more calories.
Instead of breaking your workouts up into different body parts, try this. Spend one day working out all the muscles in your upper body. Your arms, chest, back and torso. The next day concentrate on all lower body exercises. Your butt, thighs, hamstrings and calves. Just make sure at least half the exercises you choose, incorporate multiple muscles and not just one.
You can also break the workouts into front and back. Spend one day focusing on all the muscles in the front of your body, the next on all the muscles in the back. Again, the focus of at least half the movements should be on compound joint exercises.
2. Quit relying so much on exercise machines. Machines are great when you first begin working out. They help you learn how your body responds and can protect against injury. Machines re-enforce proper form and help you break through workout plateaus.
Machines also have downsides. By restricting your range of motion, they don't activate as many muscle fibers. That means your body isn't working as hard, your heart rate doesn't go up as much and you're not burning as many calories. Over time, the way a machine concentrates on specific muscles can lead to imbalances and injury to the smaller supporting muscles.
When you lift free weights, you have a greater range of motion. You can change the angles to increase resistance on any area or particular group of muscles. It's also easier to do compound joint exercises with free weights, which speeds up your metabolism.
3. Quit doing traditional, steady-state cardio. Steady-state cardio is where you run at a constant speed for a set period of time. Traditional cardio takes a long time to complete and it's far less effective than it's replacement, interval training.
Intervals, (also known as high-intensity interval training or HIIT) have you run or move for short bursts at a very fast pace, mixed in with very slow periods where you recover. A 1994 study at Laval University in Quebec, Canada found that "HIIT was nine times more effective for losing fat than steady-state cardio."
4. Quit doing the same workout, every time, for weeks or months. What happens is something called adaptation. When your body's constantly exposed to the same environmental conditions, in this case the same workouts, your muscles learn to adapt and growth stops. Muscles must be stressed to grow.
Follow these four suggestions and you'll experience several things. Your cardio workouts will be significantly shorter, but far more intense. Regular workouts will require more concentration to maintain proper form, but smaller stabilizer muscles will be kicking in and boosting your metabolism. At the end of each workout, you'll feel the effects more acutely, but you'll also see improved results.
The bottom line: Fewer isolated muscle workouts, more compound joint exercises, interval training instead of steady-state cardio and change up your program every six to twelve weeks. The results will be worth it.
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