Thursday, December 13, 2012

Intensity is the Key!

Intensity is the piece of the puzzle most people are missing.  You can have short effective workouts if you are willing to push yourself.  This article is about changing your routine to achieve this.

One of the things I see going on in the gym everyday is people wasting their time…  while others may use the gym as a social outlet, you are there to work out so treat that time as sacred.  You are there to get a job done.  You are there to build muscle and destroy fat.  You are there to become a better person.

Now this is not to say you can't have fun or occasionally talk, but do not spend three hours in the gym only to complete three sets while talking the rest of the time to the hot chick behind the counter at the smoothie bar, then claim you "work out".

Tip:  Unless you are a high maintenance athlete or a cardiac rehab patient, you probably are not going to be able to monitor your heart rate the entire workout.  Instead, learn to listen to your body, as your breathing is directly tied to your heart rate.  If you are working hard enough to be winded, then you are around your anaerobic threshold (think sprinting) while if you are able to keep up with breathing, you are in the aerobic zone.  

So let's take a typical hour workout and look at the intensity (based on heart rate).  I compared the two following workouts several times using the calorie meters (bodybugg) our gym has at our disposal.  

So here it is, this is what most people's workout routines look like if you looked at their heart rate and effort.  Remember that the higher the intensity, the more calories will be burned.  Most people burn between 300 and 500 calories in an hour workout doing this workout plan.

Problem 1:  the warm up… Most people come into the gym, hop on a treadmill and "warm up"…  a warm up is just to get your body into a state of readiness-preparation of the workout ahead-and should get your heart rate at least up into the aerobic state.  This should only take 5 minutes… instead it usually takes 10-20 minutes for most people.  This is time wasted that could have been spent burning calories or building muscle.    

Problem 2:  cardio…  Most people do cardio first.  If you do cardio first, you expend a lot of effort that could be used towards your resistance training, which you should be focusing on being at 100% effort.  If you do cardio first, you will be lucky if you can put 80% effort into it, your lifts affected by the earlier stress.  Cardio is only about holding a high heart rate for a long period of time.

Problem 3: weights…  Doing resistance last.  Your resistance training should have you hovering near the anaerobic threshold…  where you can barely keep your breath.  This stimulates your body into a place where it must adapt to survive.  You will get stronger, tougher, and more resilient… but only if you give your all.

So lets fix this…

This is the revised workout.  By fixing the order and intensity of things, most people can burn 600-1000 calories in the workout.

Fix 1: WARM UP!  Get your body prepared for the task ahead.  Don't just hop on a generic piece of cardio equipment; instead, do calisthenics or light sets and stretches to get the blood pumping and the neurons firing which will control the muscles. 

Fix 2: HIT THE WEIGHTS! Get to your resistance training first and put 100% in.  make the body adapt to new intensity and levels of training each workout.  Get your heart rate up near the anerobic threashold and stay there as long as you can stand it.  This is your "Warm up" for cardio.  Tons of calories will be burned during this time.  For most people, a good resistance training session may only take 15-20 minutes with minimal rest.

Fix 3: CARDIO!  You already got the heart rate up…  now just keep it in the aerobic state and keep yourself occupied on the equipment for maximum calorie burn.  Heck, if you want try Interval Training.


So there you are.  Hit the gym with purpose and intent and you will begin to see results you never thought possible.

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