Whether your goal is to lose fat, build muscle or to improve your body in general, most of us want to make the most of the time we spend training both inside and outside the gym, and to get the best results as quickly as possible.
Although this sounds pretty obvious, it starts with the most effective routine there is.
This means your workout routine should be designed specifically for you, your body, your exact goal and your individual training needs, preferences and experience level.
From my own experience I know just how frustrating it can be when you cannot see the results you believe you deserve after all the hard work and time you have spent training.
Why should this be? Surely you should see some more impressive results after all that hard work and dedication. And, sadly, this happens more often than you would think.
This can be put down to a few different reasons.
The majority of standard workout routines that are designed for building muscle are aimed at people with phenomenal genetics and possibly those who use steroids for extra enhancement. If that description does not fit you, then why would you want to choose a workout routine that will only work for these people? Unfortunately, many workouts are designed to appeal to you rather than actually work for you.
This is why there are numerous sculpting and toning workout plans aimed specifically at women, despite the fact that sculpting and toning is a scientifically proven myth! You cannot spot reduce from one area. However, women keep buying the magazines and going to the websites in the hopes that these plans may work for them!
If your goal is to build muscle, why would you choose a routine which is designed for fat loss and getting ripped as soon as possible? This is why you may hear people complain that they’ve gotten really lean but hardly built any muscle!
Similarly, if your goal is to lose fat, why would you use a strength and muscle building program? This is why so many people get frustrated, annoyed and disillusioned with their efforts in the gym.
There are many similar examples, but the main point I’m emphasizing is that if your workout is not designed specifically for you, with your goals in mind, your results will suffer.
What Is The Best Workout Routines?
There are many workout routines which work better than others, but there are still so-called fitness gurus who ignore scientific research and real-world results, and many workout routines are still using less effective training methods. By using these workout routines you will be at a big disadvantage before you even begin.
You may even give up before you get halfway to your goal, with the excuse that it doesn’t suit your schedule or it’s inconvenient – any excuse will do!
This is why your workout routine should fit your life routine. By using a workout plan that is too advanced for you, you could end up with injuries and prevent your own progress because you are using a routine that is not ideal for your experience level.
These are just a few reasons why so many workout routines fail. It is also why many of the people who exercise and work out regularly still look exactly the same months and even years after and why many people give up on the gym as they are unable to see any results!
Are you able to relate to any of the reason given above?
Have you ever experienced any of the following issues?
You ever feel sore or tired after a workout?
This means you need to mix up your workout. Try to grab heavier weights once a week and add supplementary high-intensity exercises as well. If you are not keen on using weights, squeeze in quick short circuits of crunches and lunges in between workouts. Or, a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session is always good.
Are you failing to lose any weight or notice any major (or even minor) physical changes?
In other words, is the composition of your body changing? If your clothes aren’t fitting any better, you might just be spinning your wheels at the gym – and not in the way you need to! Check if you need to change your diet. If you aren’t already strength training, add some weights to your routine to build fat-burning muscle or you could consider working a HIIT cardio session into your plan in order to blast calories. Research from Canada has shown that sprints (or HIIT) can help reduce body fat.
Do you barely sweat?
You need to sweat when training and you should see or feel an increase in your heart rate, so you need to add some interval training to your routine. (Again, HIIT is super effective!) In order to get your heart rate pumping more efficiently, you could try stretching or performing a set of squats. You could also drop and do 20 push-ups and 20 mountain climbers to really rev your heart rate and be sure to sweat while proving that you have pushed your body hard in order to see quicker results.
Did the last rep feel hard, yet did you walk away thinking you could probably do one more?
This means you probably need to add more weight to your workout routine. You should have to squeeze out that last rep and you will know you have reached your limit – and that is what you are trying to do. In order to achieve this, try picking up weights that are two to four pounds heavier than you’re used to. This can help to burn calories, take your workout routine to the next level and get faster results.
Why You Need To Change Up Your Workout…
Running at approximately the same pace will not help you get faster. You need to add some sprints into your routine in order to improve your stamina. Studies from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that by adding high-intensity cardio sessions (HIIT) to your routine, you can boost your fitness by improving the transport of oxygen in the blood, which improves your performance. You should make at least one of your runs a special workout.
Try to remind yourself that form is what counts, not how fast you move, but how your body moves when you are doing it.
The Nutrition Factor
There are some ways you can improve the effectiveness of your workouts and time spent in the gym. Firstly, I’d like to address an important, often overlooked issue, nutrition. This is often neglected, but can really add a massive amount to the productivity of time spent exercising. Get the macronutrients right – and the timing – and you will be right on track!
Many people don’t pay enough attention to getting the protein their muscles need to rebuild. If you don’t, you are going to get very little out of your workouts, as both cardio and weight training workouts require protein for building muscles. I recommend whey, beef, egg or soy protein shakes as your best option.
Carbs are the body’s main source of fuel. If you do intense workouts, you will need carbs or you won’t have enough energy. If you do a meal replacement shake, be sure to include carbs. Try including something like a banana/simple fruit, which are great sources of low fiber/high glycemic carbohydrates that you need for exercise.
Be sure to hydrate throughout the entire day. It takes a couple of hours for your body to absorb the water, so you can’t just drink loads right before you exercise. Make it a habit to drink water regularly throughout the whole day.
Protein and Carbohydrate Shake Before and After The Workout
It’s best to have a protein/carb shake just before your workout and then just after. Taking it before your workout increases the flow of amino acids to your muscles during training, giving them the building block they need. After the workout, the shake stimulates your muscle growth. Also, take a small protein/carb meal 60 to 90 minutes after a workout — a meal replacement shake or smoothie would also work perfectly.
What Is a Good Workout When I Go To The Gym?
As for the actual physical activity in the gym, some of the following have helped me enormously.
Instead of isolating your muscles with exercises such as the biceps curl, you can maximize the time you spend in a workout by doing exercises that work out multiple muscle groups at once. With just a handful of exercises, you could get a full-body workout. Another benefit is that your muscles are working together like they do in the real world, as opposed to alone. A few brilliant compound exercises include squats, dead-lifts, lunges, bench presses, military presses, rows, pull-ups, dips and many more.
If you’re just starting out, it’s best to take it pretty slow. If you’re running, cycling or swimming, for example, build up your endurance for at least a month before you get into anything more intense. That means going at a rate where you can easily talk without being out of breath. However, once you have that base of endurance, step up the intensity to step up the effectiveness of the workout.
I’ve seen so many trainers contract their muscles slowly and then release far more quickly. But, if you move slowly in both directions, you are maximizing each move. Lift and lower to a 5-second count in each direction. The negative portion is important.
Pick a Cardio Exercise That You Actually Enjoy!
It’s boring to exercise if you hate it. And you won’t keep it up for long. Trust me, I’ve been there! Pick something that’s fun — running, walking, swimming, biking, rowing, stair-climber, etc. After the initial phase, when you’re getting used to exercise, you’ll start to have a great time and actually look forward to it.
Limit Your Workouts To Under 60 Minutes!
Though the tendency of some people who really want to get a lot out of their workouts is to spend a lot of time at the gym, the truth is that after just under the hour mark, the benefit isn’t as great. It’s far better to work out at a higher intensity for less time.
It’s quality, not quantity. A big mistake that many people make is to do lots of sets of the exact same exercise without resting between the sets. This doesn’t allow your muscles to recover and it’s a waste of your workout. Instead of doing a set, resting and then doing your second set, it’s more effective to move on to multiple exercises in a circuit, so that you don’t rest between exercises, but do rest each muscle group. This will also give you a good cardio workout while you do your weight training.
Mix It Up
Don’t always do the same workout routine for too long because your body is very clever and will look for the easy option every time. It will adjust to the stress level and you won’t be getting an effective workout. For your weight training, change your routine every four to five weeks. For cardio, it’s best to mix it up and cross train instead of, for example, to run or cycle every time.
Lastly, and most importantly, remember, there is a big difference between your time spent in the gym, and the time spent actually working in the gym!
Seriously, make it count!
Exercising and training are very different things. You have, no doubt, seen people in these gyms who look as if they mean business – head down, intense, focused, driven and with purpose. They’re in the zone. If you are serious about transforming your body and maximizing your time in the gym, then stop wasting your time exercising and get 100% focused! Aside from everything already mentioned, there are a few other ways to get your all-important workouts back on track.
You could find/employ a personal trainer to design a workout just for you. Make sure you get an experienced trainer with a good reputation.
Do some research for yourself to find the right information in order to find a program to suit your body needs!
Try out different methods and workout routines until you find what works for you. It’s not an easy or quick way, but, in my experience, it will be well worth the effort. In conclusion, and in my opinion, no workout will work unless you work!
-Keith Cormican, RD
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