January 21, 2012

How Do I Maximize My Exercise Results

Maximize your workout results and look great in less time! (also seen at SelfGrowth.com)

Do you belong to a gym? Do you see the same people doing the same routine for the same amount of time?  What happens?  They look the same!  90% of the people who go to a gym look the same 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months later because their workouts are inefficient and poorly designed.  In a gym, there is a difference between effort and intensity.  The amount of effort expended in the gym is quite remarkable, but if not focused on the right types of exercises, or the time spent outside the gym is negating your effort in the gym, you create a cycle of ineffective training behavior that doesn’t produce results.

To achieve maximum results in the shortest amount of time your exercise program has to encompass four primary areas:

1.  Nutrition and hydration

2.  Intensity and effort

3.  Rest and recuperation

4.  Resistance training and cardio

Then, limit these four blocks to achieving maximum results in your training program:

1.  Ineffective use of cardio

2.  Overly focused on cardio at the expense of weight training

3.  Lack of intensity and/or over training

4.  Lack of good technique when using resistance or weight training

Many people put forth enough overall effort into their training programs.  They are at the gym regularly, and they do certainly expend energy.  However, the results are not congruent with the amounts if time or effort spent.  This speaks dramatically about the lack of efficacy of the training program.  When somebody is already able to lift a 1 pound weight, no matter how many hours spent in the gym, and no matter how many times they lift that weight, they are not going to achieve the results that they desire.

This lack of exercise intensity and stimulation of the muscle is not compensated for by the amount of time that is spent in the gym, no matter how many hours.  Conversely if you focus on maintaining weight solely through the use of excessive cardio, without simultaneously building up your base rate metabolism by increasing lean muscle mass you again create an ineffective workout.  By using weight training to establish a good base of muscle, you burn more calories while at rest, away from the gym as part of your overall workout regimen.

The following small changes will have a dramatic increase on the results you achieve in the gym.  First, research is showing that performing cardio is more effective in shorter, more intense time frames.  Rather than spending an hour on the cardio machine, try this program for the next 12 weeks.

Warm up for 5 min. and then begin interval training at a 1 to 3 ratio.

Bring your intensity level up as high as you can for 30 seconds and then cool down and recover for 90 seconds.

Build up your strength and fitness so you can eventually perform 10 sets of repetitions done in a 20 min. time frame.

Then, cool down completely for another 5 min.

This 30 minute program will greatly improve the effects of your cardio, while helping to maintain lean muscle mass.  Stay away from the treadmill for this type of high-intensity exercise.  Many people are unused to running at the speed necessary to elevate the heart rate and the risk for injury is very high.  Find and use a stationary piece of equipment such as a recumbent bicycle, elliptical machine, or stepper.  Your key focus is to build up your endurance so that you can get close to your maximum heart rate for those 30 seconds and then cool down for the following 90 seconds.  This is a different type of training, so it is recommended you have a physical first and pay attention to your body as you build up to this intensity slowly.

Also, invest in a heart rate monitor to see what your effort actually is.  You’d be surprised at how knowing the numbers will help you maintain the desired intensity and the difference that just a few beats make in your exercise effort.

This is different than the old practice of LSD (long, slow, duration) aerobic exercise.  To see the difference between the two types of training, take a look at the difference between a marathoner’s body and a sprinters body.  Typically the marathoners have trained themselves to the point they have started metabolizing their muscle protein for fuel.  This is one reason they don’t carry the usual muscle mass.  Sprinters carry tremendous amounts of muscle.  They achieve this by exercising with high intensity and giving equal attention to their recovery.

You are going to feel different.  As you get closer to working to your maximum heart rate (a common estimate of maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age) you may sweat more, may feel bit nauseous or lightheaded, and may feel that your breathing becomes shortened.  Pay attention to yourself!  If you are in any type of distress ask for help, but for most people these changes represent the normal experience for somebody working out at a close to maximum heart rate.

As you start building your cardio base you will also want to focus on resistance training.  Simple stated, resistance training is stimulating a muscle with some type of weight so the muscle needs to recruit and build its fibrous infrastructure.  People who work out at the gym for an hour or two every day, yet don’t change their body are using an ineffective method of working out.  To maximize workouts with weight training, the workout must encompass the same premise as cardio mentioned above; high intensity training for shorter durations.  This produces a maximum return.  Muscle doesn’t know if it’s being stimulated by using machines, free weights, or body weight, it just knows if it’s being asked to work harder.  If it’s asked to lift weight, especially at a higher intensity, in a shorter amount of time, with good technique, it’s working harder.  Then the muscle calls upon more fibers to handle the increased requests.  This recruitment stimulates the growth of muscle fibers.

All exercise is catabolic, in other words, exercise of any type breaks down fibers and tissue.  The building (anabolic) phase takes place outside of the gym, away from exercise.  Here, focus on your body’s need for good nutrition, healthy water, and rest.  Then you’re maximizing the rebuilding process that occurs during the rest and recuperation phase of training.  When using this program, make sure you have at least a day or two of rest between these routines.  Follow the resistance training tips below on your other days for a well-rounded program.

For maximum return on time and effort, limit the amount of sets you do and instead bring up the intensity while using good form.  You want to squeeze the muscle group you are working.  The entire repetition should take from 3-5 seconds with a one second point of maximum contraction.  Each muscle group can be worked to maximum intensity, then continue to your next group.  No more than two body parts a day.  Below are groupings of body parts that you work together.  You will notice that there are eight, which lends itself nicely to four workout days.  Certain groups may be naturally worked together.  For example, you may have a “legs” day or work the oppositional muscle groups (bicep/triceps).  What is most important is you focus on achieving maximum intensity and recruitment of muscle fiber in each set you do.  When you work at maximum intensity, the amount of time that you spend in the gym is lowered and the benefits increase.

Core (consisting of abs, obliques and lower back)

Upper back

Biceps/ forearms

Triceps

Chest

Shoulders (front, rear, and side deltoid’s)

Front Legs

Rear Legs (hamstrings, gluteus and calves)

Be careful with weights; you can get seriously hurt if you don’t know what you’re doing with machines or free weights.  Preventing injuries allows you to train consistently.  Almost every gym has personal trainers available to help you learn the right techniques for each machine or to help you with free weights.  Make use of these resources.  You will notice that the design of this program doesn’t revolve around a weekly schedule.  Extend your time frame out to 2 weeks (or even a month) if you are scheduling.  Looking at these types of high-intensity exercises in a weekly timeframe is too limiting.  When you expand to a 2 or 4 week time frame you will find you are able to schedule days which have no workouts.  These days of complete rest will improve your results dramatically.

A good workout regimen improves the overall quality of your life.  You are stronger, more fit, and able to enjoy more of life.  Maximizing your results with these programs brings quicker and more dramatic results.  There is much more to touch on nutrition, types of exercises, hydration and other aspects, but if you are already working out and make these adjustments, you will notice positive physical and mental changes over the next 8-12 weeks!

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