If you are heading to the gym on a regular basis and getting a good workout, then you are already miles ahead of those who live a sedentary lifestyle. But if getting in great shape and losing weight is your primary objective, you may not be getting the best bang for your workout buck. These five tips will help turn your workouts into a better weight-loss plan.
- Do enough.
No matter what the ads tell you, you can’t get in shape, much less lose weight in 15 minutes a day. You need to get into the habit of working out for at least 45 minutes three or four days a week. This will not only burn enough calories to help in your weight loss plan, but will help keep your metabolism up for the rest of the week, burning calories during your normal day to day activities.
- Don’t overdo it.
Yes, you need to do enough exercise, but too much isn’t going to help. First, unless you are training for some serious competition, the extra trips to the gym isn’t going to get you enough extra gains to justify the time. Second, your body needs the time between workouts to heal the muscles and build defenses against further damage. It is this healing process where the growth and benefits come from, allowing you to do more and harder as you progress. Finally, doing too much is the absolute best way to get injured and an injury is the best way to lose all the fitness you have gained. Slow and steady wins the race.
- Cardio alone isn’t enough.
You would think extra time on the elliptical or treadmill would shed those extra pounds, and in the beginning it worked. Once your body reaches a plateau in strength and you gain some cardio-vascular fitness, you won’t see the pounds dropping like you did in the beginning. After a while, the extra cardio isn’t going to burn the fat, it’s just going to make you hungry. Don’t stop the cardio, just dial it back a bit and start mixing in some weight and strength training. Instead of doing 45-minute sessions of cardio, do 30 minutes, followed by a good 15 minute weight training session. Once a week, drop the cardio entirely and do a hard 45 minutes of interval or full body workouts to combine strength training with cardio.
- Follow the right progression through your workout.
Start big and end small. Don’t start off with isolating muscles such as your abs or biceps. Begin the workout with the large muscle groups, like your back and legs. Start the session with squats and deadlifts. Progress from there into pushups or bench presses, and shoulder presses. Finally move to the smaller muscles with curls and tricep extensions. End the workout with your ab work. This progression will keep your strength up for the heavy work when it’s needed and will give you the most benefit. Tiring out your arms with curls, or your core with ab work before moving into the large muscle groups will just waste your time and set you up for injury.
- Keep up your metabolism on ‘off’ days.
You need those rest days, but if you are serious about weight loss, rest will mean something different to you than everyone else. You don’t want your body to come to a complete rest more than one day a week. On your other off days, go for a light walk, climb a few stairs, or mix in some squats and jumping jacks at various times during the day. You don’t want these to turn into a full workout, but you do want to keep your heart rate and metabolism up.
Keep up the great work and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But if you seem to be stuck in a rut and can’t shed those extra pounds, these five tips may be just the solution you have been looking for.