You might need a better strategy
Suppose you are a race car in the Indianapolis 500. To win, you have to keep your car performing optimally the entire race. You need to refuel at the right time and change your tires as they wear. You also need other adjustments to compensate for the track and weather conditions. One miscalculation and you could struggle to win or even finish the race. The same is true with your body when it comes to exercise and nutrition. You need a strategy to keep your metabolism racing during AND after a workout to produce optimum results.
You need a plan rather than just winging it. Nutrition is key before, during and after a workout. You’ve got to eat the carbohydrates for energy prior to a workout. After a workout, you need protein for muscle repair. You may also need to replenish your energy with carbohydrates and electrolytes after a hard workout to and make sure your body returns to a normal state.
You also need to have a proper workout strategy to reach your goal whether it’s to lose weight, build muscle, increase strength, or improve your cardiovascular endurance. Without a plan, many people don’t see results they were hoping for, become frustrated and eventually quit.
If you’re like most people, you’ll tell yourself, “I need to lose a few pounds, so I think I’ll join a gym and workout.” But unless you have a specific goal in mind, you might be doing yourself more harm than good, especially when it comes to burning fat and shedding pounds. Did you know that there are different types of workouts for different goals. If you want to burn fat but you’re doing a workout designed for building strength, that’s like entering an elephant to race in the Indianapolis 500. The elephant might be strong, but it’s not very efficient and will take days to travel those 500 miles. He might reach the goal, but it will take a lot longer.
Before I started really studying fitness and earned my ACE Personal Trainer certification, I was like everyone else. I went into the gym, got my 30-minute workout in and left. I pushed some weights around, did a few minutes on the elliptical, and cut my calories way back to 1,200 per day and that was it. Then one day, figured out that I wasn’t igniting my metabolism and therefore not burning fat. But after I made a few minor adjustments with both my nutrition and workouts, I boosted my metabolism and the fat started melting off.
The solution? You need to create the “perfect storm” by not only burning more calories than you take in, but you also need to build muscle and eat for the purpose of fueling your body. When you do that, you turn your body into a fat burning furnace. That means working out smarter instead of harder and taking in the right amount of calories to be able to perform optimally during your workouts so that you burn even more calories post-workout. After a hard workout, your body needs time to recover and return to that normal state. That process can take a few hours to a couple of days. And guess what happens during that recovery time? Your body must burn more calories than normal to make the necessary repairs! Your metabolism is working overtime.
When it comes to your workouts, you need to make sure that you are getting the right combination of strength/resistance training and cardiovascular training, especially in the fat burning zone of 65 – 85% of your maximum heart rate (mHR). As a general rule, your maximum heart rate is calculated by subtracting your age from 220. So, if you are 43, your mHR would be 177. Optimally, a 30-minute resistance training session with active rest followed by 30 minutes on the elliptical, treadmill, rower or bike is going to produce the best results. However, if time is limited, you can still get great results with a 30-minute high-intensity interval training or max interval training workout.
Each workout should be planned out. Don’t just wander aimlessly around the gym and then pick up a weight or jump on a machine and just do a few reps until it’s hard. When I work, two days are upper body, and another day is lower body and core. Those days are always followed up with at least 30 minutes of light to moderate cardio to get into that fat-burning zone. Other days may just be cardio such as jogging, biking, or agility drills.
When it comes to planning, write your workout down in a notebook or exercise journal. Know what muscles you’ll be working, how much resistance, how many reps and how many sets you’ll be doing before you even arrive at the gym. After the workout, write some notes. What was hard? What was easy? How did you feel? What progress did you make? Review those notes before your next workout so that you know what you need to work on.
In racing, sometimes luck plays a role for the winning car. But almost always, the car that takes the checkered flag at the end of the race is one that has solid race strategy and sticks to it while making subtle adjustments along the way. Apply this strategy to your workouts and nutrition to boost your metabolism and you’ll be well on your way to hitting your fitness goals.
To your health!