Exercise can be a painful and boring experience if you do not know how to work out effectively and maximize your time. One of the things that keep a lot of people from exercises at home, or making a trip to the gym is that they have a mental block. We play mind games. We are convinced that exercise has to take hours to be effective. And it is this feeling inside of us that makes us dread exercising and keeps us from doing it.
I have some good news for you.
More and more research is showing that quick bursts of intense activity are just as effective, in fact, more effective than 30 – 60 minutes of cardio. And let’s face it, the cardio is what really takes up the majority of your time in the gym.
We have been told, or convinced ourselves, that in order for exercise to be beneficial, we have to select 30 minutes or more on the treadmill or bike, and drone on and on like a hamster on a wheel.
How many times have you heard that you do not start burning fat until after 20 minutes of cardio? That may or may not be true, but monotonous, repetitive exercise is not the only way to burn fat.
I am reminded of a situation last year. I was meeting some friends for lunch one Saturday and since it was on the other side of town, I decided to go work out at a gym close to the restaurant beforehand. I invited one of my friends to join me and I left his name at the front desk.
I didn’t see him come in the gym but he had to go through the big sell from one of the workers. The idea behind the guest pass was supposed to allow you to bypass that, so when I found out later, I was a little annoyed.
Anyway, I finally saw him in the gym with one of the employees getting the tour and soon after that, he joined me.
I was in the midst of one of my routines I am about to tell you about. He started trying to mimic what I was doing but quickly fell behind. I encouraged him to keep at it and work up to it and he would be as fast as I was in a month or so. Then he said, “well, he just told me I had to do this much cardio on the machines, then do chest and back one day and legs the next”.
I told him to forget everything that man just told him and that if he wanted to lose some weight and tone up, do what I am telling you to do. Those people in the gym are just trying to sell you a membership and get you to sign up for a personal trainer.
This whole idea about doing arms and chest and back one day, legs the next and other major muscle groups on specific days is something 99% of all people can forget about. That is advice for heavy duty, serious body builders. Those people are breaking down their muscles daily and need that day or two of rest. That is not what you and I need. Most of us are not trying to be Mr. or Ms. Atlas. Most of us just want to fit in our pants and not have a muffin top.
In order to do that, you need a total body workout every session. Don’t worry about hurting yourself or making yourself sore. You aren’t going to be lifting a lot of weight so you can do it every day without any adverse effects.
What if you could burn as many calories in half the time and continue to burn calories hours after exercising? I sound like an internet huckster marketer now don’t I?
Seriously, you can, you just have to alter your way of thinking and tweak your routine.
When I first started working out regularly at the end of 2011, I was almost 30 lbs heavier than I am now. Over the first 3 months, I didn’t lose hardly any weight on the scale, but that is deceiving because I knew I was gaining muscle, so I must have been losing fat. The scale didn’t reflect a change though.
However, after a few months, I had only lost about 10 lbs. then I plateaued. I stayed that way for almost a year until I switched it up and started doing the following types of workout.
I am going to teach you a way of working out and really, a way of thinking, that can help you get over that mindset.
Most of this work out can be done at home, and there are days where I will have 10 – 20 sets just in my living room. But I have found that if you want to get the maximum benefit, it helps to work out in a full gym and mix up the body weight exercises with free weights and machines.
This is my current routine. You will have to build up to something like this, but use this as a guide to create a starter program for you.
High Intensity Training
I typically stay active for 20 to 30 minutes during my HIT training. That means little to no rest in between activities. Usually I will only rest as long as it takes me to get up from a plank or a push-up position, or walk to the next machine or area to do my next exercise.
So for instance, I usually start every workout with 100 pushups. I would usually do them in increments of 30 or 20, then while I was resting my chest and arms, I would do body squats or plank for a while, then hit the pushups again until I got to 100.
After that, I start leg curls combined with planks. Then I move to hamstring curls. I usually try to do some sort of leg exercise every day because lower body work outs, particularly squats, have been shown to boost metabolism.
My new favorite thing to do is pull-ups and if you really want to increase your overall upper body strength, this is one of the best exercises for that. However, you have to build up to that activity because they are not easy to do at first.
So I keep working around in those activities mixing it up with jumping jacks, body weight squats, and planking. Sometimes I “imaginary jump rope” in place. Actually, I do have a real jump rope and I take it into the racket ball court and jump rope for 60 seconds in between sets on certain days. That is an example of how you mix it up and confuse your muscles.
If all of this is sounding exhausting, it is even after you have been doing it for over a year like I have. And yes, sometimes I get some strange looks in the gym, but shortly after I started training this way last year, I noticed several of the personal trainers starting to incorporate some of my routine into their client’s work out sessions.
Don’t be one of those people that go in there and sit on a machine for 2 or 3 minutes, then do another set, then sit there again. That’s not going to do anything for you.
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Motivation to Lose Weight
So rather than giving you an actual work out routine, I wanted to give you a work out philosophy.
If you do the type of high intensity workouts I am describing to you, you can be out of there in 20 minutes, guilt-free. You will be exhausted, especially when you first get started because of the intense workouts. If you do it right, you will have done a total body workout, plus your cardio, all in less time.
And because hit workout takes less than a half hour to finish, that will motivate you to do it at home, or get to the gym more often without that sense of dread. Knowing that you are going in for a shorter workout is like the difference in the way you feel when you have a 15 minute meeting scheduled at work as opposed to a 2 hour one on your schedule.
Incorporate exercise into your daily routine, especially on the weekends. If you plan on going out on a Saturday morning to run errands or shop, go to the gym first, do a quick workout, shower, get dressed, then go do whatever you were going to do that day. I do that all of the time.
Also, reward yourself sometimes. If you get to the gym and you really don’t feel like doing anything, just go sit in the sauna or swim some laps, take shower and leave. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself because that is going to keep you from returning. Blowing off one day is better than blowing off months or years.
If you switch to this way of working out and watch your diet for a month, you will lose weight. And you don't have to lift a lot of weight with hit training. Ladies, there are plenty of circuit training workouts for women that require nothing but your body weight.
After you get close to your ideal body weight, you can eat normally and not gain weight as long as you continue to exercise the same way. You won’t be losing weight anymore, but you won’t be gaining it either.
If you need more examples of this type of activity, there are boatloads of information on YouTube.