10 things you need to know about your workout
1. Switch up your workout routines
When you do the same cardio or strength routine 3-6 times, your body adapts and your burn fewer calories. Your results – weight loss, muscle definition – will slow down. Plus, if you place stress on the same muscles and joints all the time, it can lead to injury. So, let’s say, once a month change one thing in your exercises. It will help you achieve better results and you won’t get bored.
2. Cardio alone won’t help to lose weight
Research shows that it’s difficult to lose fat when you do only cardiovascular activity, like running, biking or walking, though it’s great for your heart. Yes, aerobic exercise burns calories, but it doesn’t really change your metabolism. You know what does? Lean muscle mass. The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate (the baseline amount of calories you burn in a day), because muscle helps you burn more calories even after your workout is over. According to the research conducted at Quincy College, in Quincy, Massachusetts, if you do strength training three times a week, you can add an average of three pounds of muscle in about three months, increasing your metabolism by 6 to 7%. Keep doing cardio three times a week, but add two or three strength-training workouts.
3. Challenge your muscles
If you want to have stronger muscles, they have to be challenged with a load that’s heavier than what they’re used to. No challenge, and you can’t strengthen or tone them. So choose a weight you can lift for only 10 to 15 repetitions before losing good form. And don’t worry about becoming a hunk. Women’s bodies have a biological limit on how much muscle mass they can build. It’s hard for women to get big without using steroids.
4. Train muscles in pairs
Every muscle has a mate that works in the opposite way. To avoid imbalances that can lead to injury, it’s essential to train both equally. For instance, you can work your biceps and hamstrings one day, then your triceps and quadriceps the next. But there’s one exception: the back muscles. If you work at a computer all day, you probably have a weak back. So when you work your back and chest, for every exercise you do for the chest, do two for the back.
5. Crunches aren’t crucial for strong abdominals
Crunches strengthen only a few of the muscles in your core. Besides, if your abs are weak and you do crunches, they could cause a strain on your neck, since you’ll probably be pulling on it in an effort to lift your torso. Don’t eliminate crunches from your routine, just focus on exercises which work the entire core area. For example, the plank will be perfect.
6. Having a feast after your workout is not the right decision
After an intensive workout you probably may feel a temptation to compensate the calories you’ve just burned. Don’t do that, it won’t help losing your weight. To prevent overeating after the gym, have some healthy snack an hour or two after your workout. And stay mobile during the day as much as possible. By the way, you shouldn’t collapse on the couch after your workout. According to the study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise in 2009, long periods of sitting were associated with an increased risk of death, even for exercisers!
7. Form matters when you do strength-training
Focus on proper form while doing weight-training. If you do some exercises in the wrong way, it will not only diminish the results but also can lead to injury. Hire a personal trainer who’ll guide you through and show how to do the exercises, or find illustrating videos on Youtube.
8. Don’t work out on an empty stomach
Like most of people, you probably think that if you exercise before you eat, your body will turn to its fat reserves for energy instead of the food in your stomach. But, in fact, it’s just the opposite. According to the study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism in 2011, people experienced a bigger boost in metabolism — which means, burned more fat — when they exercised after eating breakfast than when they did the same workout on an empty stomach. It happens because your body uses more oxygen, which leads to a metabolism spike, and fat burns more efficiently. Eat 30 minutes before your workout. It could be a small snack, low-fat yogurt and a banana, whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk, or oatmeal and fruit.
9. Don’t take a tight grip on your cardio machine
When you hold the treadmill or stair-climber handles tightly (even that your knuckles turn white), you put your body into an uncomfortable position, which can put strain on your muscles. And because your legs don’t have to work hard, you burn lesser calories. So focus on maintaining proper form.
10. Short, but intensive cardio is more effective
Longer but low intensity cardio workout is not that effective as you may think. Studies show that if you boost intensity in a short workout, you’ll burn as many, or even more, calories than doing long, steady-state cardio.