Saturday, January 8, 2011

Setting a Schedule

Once you start a fitness routine, the questions start to pop up: Am I doing all I can to maximize the results? First of all, you should know that spending hours and hours exercising is a complete waste of time, unless you are training for a major event like a marathon. The old way of losing fat and gaining muscle was long and strenuous, including "rest time" between events or sets. The new and more efficient way is to make a plan that works in a short amount of time.
The cardio MYTH: If you walk or run every day, you will lose the most weight in the least time. The "fat burning zone" is a less-than-optimal range that must be maintained for a long period of time to get the most effects.
The TRUTH: If you walk or run every day, your body will thank you with some weight loss, heart benefits, and an increase in metabolism through more mitochondria in the cell structure of the body. HOWEVER, the "fat burning zone" means that the percentage of calories burned at that zone are more fat cells than general calories. But in your body, a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. Burning more calories means burning more fat. Bottom line: work harder in a shorter period of time and you will burn more calories. Work yourself up a sweat. Increase your breathing. Work in difficult intervals. THIS is how the body burns more calories and increases stamina. Your body will continue to burn calories for a while after the workout, though the exact amount of time is not known. Hard work is really the key to a good cardio workout, and you don't have to do it for hours.
The weight lifting MYTH: Work one body part per day, 3 sets of heavy weights, and rest in between sets. Rest that body part for at least 24 hours after the workout.
The TRUTH: Working the muscles is a vital part to an exercise routine. The more muscle you have, the less fat you will have because muscle cells burn lots of calories. BUT, a workout that includes body-weight lifting, plyometrics, and resistance exercise in a way that keeps the body moving is the most efficient way to build muscle, keep the cardio up, and burn more calories. There are lots of programs out there based on the new truth, including Active II for Wii, P90X, Crossfit, and boot camp methods around the country.
The flexibility myth: If I stretch before and after my workout, that's enough flexibility and I'm good to go....if I remember to do it.
The TRUTH: Stretching before a workout is UNNECESSARY and could actually hurt your workout. Stretching after the workout is important, but a good exercise regimen includes a few minutes of flexibility exercise, Pilates, or yoga every week. Your joints and muscles will thank you for this.
How to work it all in: A good interval workout will include enough of everything to get you in great shape. Check for local classes in your area or purchase a program that lays it out for you. You can also alternate days of running or walking with muscle work. Just make sure to make a little time for flexibility, too. And, if a muscle group is sore, it is rebuilding. Do give it time to rebuild before stressing it again. This doesn't mean don't use the muscles, but do give them some time. The legs in particular need to be used when sore. Walk or run on sore legs to loosen them up and remember to do flexibility exercise.
I hope this helps put some things in perspective. Let me know if you have questions.

1 comment:

Steph said...

Thanks for this. I didn't know about the short, intense cardio bursts. I will start using this today!