Friday, April 15, 2011

Making Your Weight Loss More Successful Part II: Sneaky Tips to Get More From Your Exercise Routine

Following up on Five Ways You May Be Unknowingly Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Part I: When it comes to what crosses those lips, for Part II of this series we tackle the other part of the equation: Exercise. Eating right and in moderation is one aspect of weight loss, but those who rely on diet alone are not only making things tougher on themselves BUT also jyping themselves out of plenty rewards.

We all know we should exercise, but not just for looking good...though that doesn't hurt either. Especially for those who are trying to lose weight, if all you do is cut calories you won't be building up any muscle mass. What that means is that at a certain point your body may end up losing muscles mass; that number on the scale may go down but your body fat percentage won't. You'll end up looking 'skinny fat' and that is neither hot nor healthy.

Plus, us fitness fans are just plain more fun to be around, right?! Haha...I jest, but working out does mean we can be a little less strict when it comes to what we eat and no one is much fun if they're hungry. ;) Still, there are ways that your exercise routine may be stalling...or sneaky things you can do to get the most out of your workouts:

Intensity: I'm going to keep this short and sweet because we talk about it so much here...but it is paramount. You have to be working hard. For the sake of this post we HAVE to include it and here are some tips: make friends with intervals, hills, ploymetrics, and bursts of giving it your all. These all burn more energy during the workout and elevates your metabolism hours afterwards in the after-burn effect.

No Rest For the Strong: Doing your weight and resistance training in a circuit method not only will save you time and allow you to do more exercises, but it will also keep your heart rate up. That means your metabolism will keep on trucking. Circuit training means that you do your exercises back to back (think of doing a set of bicep curls and then immediately going into tricep kick-backs, then back to your next set of curls, etc.) and continuously versus doing just one set of a bicep curls, resting, and then doing the second set.

Elevate It: If you're working out on the treadmill, play with the grade. You can do mock-hills on the treadmill, but even if you're not putting it up that high, keeping it above grade 0 will make you work harder and thus burn a few more calories. You can also do the same thing with the ellipticals that have both resistance and grade levels.

Avoid the Rails: This is if you're on a machine with side rails, like the stairclimber. We've all seen those people who hunch over and hang on the rails when they are tired. When you support yourself that way you aren't working the machine right and by taking off most of the load from your legs you're 'cheating.' Keep good form and you'll get much better results.

Double Up: When you're running, on the elliptical, or on the stairclimber, keep your core tight. Suck in those abs, stand up straight; that not only will make you more efficient at the machine and possibly go harder/longer but it will also keep that core strong and thus toned. If you're already doing your cardio, you might as well kill two birds and work that core to the max.

Stay Hydrated: This may sound kind of out of place, but if you're muscles are dehydrated they will be zapped of their full potential. It's been show that this is true both in cardio and weight training; dehydrated muscles wind up falling short when it comes to their strength and power. That means you won't be able to lift as much. Stay hydrated and you'll be able to workout harder, lift more, tone up better, and feel better while you're doing it too!

Try Something New: The body adapts to stressors and that means that after time the same routine won't yield you the results you want. As you get more efficient at something, over time you won't be burning the same amount of energy (ie: calories) and to combat this you want to shock that body and make it work. Every 4-6 weeks throw a challenge in there with something new or tweak your routine.

Okay, that will do it for our second part here. But I also want to point out that muscle weights more than fat. So that means that you shouldn't be gauging your 'success' solely by what the scale reads. If you've hit a plateau on the scale but your clothes are fitting better, you have proof that you've gotten leaner and have less body fat. That is healthier than just a number on a scale, and we shouldn't measure ourselves by only a number anyways. Being healthy and happy in ourselves does come from the inside out, and while yes, some of us do need to drop a few pounds to get there...remember that exercising and working out ALSO makes us happier mentally and parlays into so many other areas of our life. Thank you endorphins! Okay, off of my little soap box here...just wanted to point out that the scale shouldn't be your only gauge but rather how you're looking and feeling in your, I mean skin! :)

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