Many people think they have to spend hours in the gym to get in shape. They think if they can’t put an hour into a workout, then why waste the time working out. The truth is, it’s not about the time you put in, but the quality of your workouts.
I see so many people mindlessly going through their workouts with poor form. In addition to poor form, I see the overachievers with heavy weights using momentum and performing their reps way too fast. Consider putting more thought into your workouts and each exercise. Focus on controlling the weight and contracting the muscle; it will make a tremendous difference in your workouts.
Therefore, can you do less with more focus and still get a great workout AND accomplish your goals?
Ask yourself these 5 questions:
What am I trying to achieve in my workout today? Is my goal to build muscle, build cardiovascular endurance, work on flexibility, or do I want to bust through a plateau with some interval training? If you don’t know what the purpose of your workout is, you won’t get the results you are trying to achieve.
Are you challenged with your workout? Is it intense enough? Is your weight challenging enough to make it difficult to get through your last few reps?
Are you wasting time in the gym, too much rest between sets? Are you socializing too much- Are you wasting time on social media?
Is your mind on your workout? Are you focused and present to give your workout all you got??
Are you getting results from your workouts that match the time you spend each week on your training?
The truth is if you’ve ever tried a circuit type workout in which you perform exercises with very little rest between sets, you will realize that you can get an amazing workout in as little as 20 to 30 minutes.
RE: Jillianmichaels.com reports circuit training is an excellent way to simultaneously improve mobility, strength, and stamina. The circuit training workout is composed of two to six different circuits, each containing two or more strength/cardio exercises that are completed one right after the other, with little or no rest in between. The strength training works your muscles, and the cardio keeps your heart rate up.
I love Fridays! It’s the end of the week and I like to start the weekend off right with a great workout. If you are like most of us, the weekend means relaxing and splurging on some “not so healthy food choices.” But there’s nothing wrong with that; life is all about balance. So how do you adjust your goals on the weekend so that you don’t destroy all the grueling work you put in during the week?
I don’t know about you, but I love to eat and enjoy working out; it makes me feel good about myself. Sure it would be a lot easier on the weekends to lay on the couch and eat junk food. But what about all your killer workouts, planning your meals, and eating healthy all week? Surely you don’t want to destroy that progress over the weekend.
To keep on track with my goals, I know realistically that I’m going to be splurging a little on the weekend. Therefore it makes sense for me to offset the extra calories with extra activity.
Tip # 1: Increase your activity level. I typically get up early on the weekends and try to do at least a couple of miles on the treadmill. If I don’t have time for that, I simply do a “high-intensity interval training workout” such as this from: Muscle and Fitness
–> Perform circuit two times.
–> Rest as little as possible.
30 Bodyweight squats
10 Elevated pushups (feet on a bench)
30 Lunges (total, not per side)
10 Inverted rows (lying on the ground underneath a fixed bar)
30 Side-to-side hops (total)
10 Inverted rows
30 Close-grip pushups (either on knees or standard)
10 Underhand inverted rows
30 Jumping jacks
30 Diagonal lunges (total, not per side)
Either rest for 1-2 minutes or jog in place for 1-2 minutes (repeat)
These type of workouts are super effective and burns loads of calories. Dr Josh Axe reports that High Intensity Training
Research from the past decade continues to report that high intensity interval training actually balances both leptin and ghrelin, which increases fat burn and weight loss. In fact, burst training is one of the best ways to best manage unhealthy hunger behavior and maximize ghrelin and leptin to lose weight.
I also try to make sure I use my activity tracker on the weekends to help motivate me to get my steps in (either by moving more throughout the day or from my workouts).
Read my article below for the benefits of tracking your steps on a daily basis:
In two studies, drinking half a liter (17 ounces) of water was shown to increase metabolism by 24-30% for up to 1.5 hours (26, 27).
This means that drinking 2 liters of water every day can increase your total energy expenditure by up to 96 calories per day.
The timing is important too, and drinking water half an hour before meals is the most effective. It can make you feel more full, so that you eat fewer calories (28, 29).
In one study, dieters who drank half a liter of water before meals lost 44% more weight, over a period of 12 weeks (30).
It’s easy to keep on track with your water intake by just following these rules:
Drink water: Upon arising, with morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and with the evening meal. This schedule will keep you hydrated and help prevent overeating.
So when the weekend rolls around, enjoy yourself. But stay on track by scheduling your water breaks and increasing your activity. Take a walk at lunch, park further away from the office, or take the stairs. It all adds up.
If you don’t have time to fit in a workout, try to break the workouts into ten-minute segments. Ten minutes in the morning upon arising and then another mini-workout on your lunch hour or after work. It’s all about priorities and staying on track with your goals.
We all have goals in our lives. Some people write them down with details on how to achieve them, while others keep them stored away in the back of their mind on a mental “wish list.” However, what if I told you the answer to achieving anything you want is in the title of this blog. Perhaps you want to change careers, go for your dream promotion, run a marathon, or simply improve a relationship with a loved one; the key is applying focus to the situation.
Do you feel like you deserve a promotion, or does a new career path seem out of reach? What will it take to get you closer to that goal? It may be as easy as signing up for continuing education to help you advance in your current position or, enrolling in courses that relate to your career of interest. When I was in my twenties, I wanted to go into nursing but felt overwhelmed at starting back to school with two young children. I decided to enroll in a chemistry course at my local college and that gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams. I went on to graduate with a BSN in nursing, became a certified personal trainer, and acquired fitness certifications to teach yoga, and group fitness. You may be surprised how quickly new opportunities arise once you prioritize the steps to help you reach your goals. The key is applying concentration, drive, and consistency. You have the choice to stay where you are and hope things magically fall into place, or go after your dreams with focus and a plan.
Maybe, you’ve dreamed of participating in a fitness competition, hiking the Appalachian trail, or running a marathon. Goals such as these may seem out of reach, but it simply requires focus, consistency, and a well thought out plan. In the past, one of the top items on my bucket list was to run a marathon. However, I was not a runner and I felt like a marathon was out of the question. I decided to research training programs and discovered all my preconceived ideas were nonsense. I didn’t have to be a runner, a certain age, or have an athletic lean body to run a marathon. All I needed was a beginner training plan and the drive and consistency to follow through. Once I signed up for the marathon, I focused on proper nutrition and consistently began to build endurance and mileage each week. I successfully completed my first marathon in 2012; It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I remember starting the race Running For The Bay, St. George Island at the break of dawn, seeing the amazing sunrise as I ran over the bridge in St. George Island- Apalachicola, FL. I knew this would forever be a high point in my life; the feeling was priceless!
All you need is the proper mindset, motivation, and consistency to make your dreams come true. I entered my first figure show at the age of 53. I never dreamed I could transform my body, build muscle, and reduce my body fat enough to consider entering a competition. I was slightly overweight in my teens and put on additional weight in my thirties after having children. However, once I became interested in a career in fitness, the goal of entering a figure competition didn’t seem so far fetched, even at the age of 53. My first marathon gave me the confidence to set new goals in life. As I became stronger and improved my fitness level, I began to dismiss age or body type as a barrier to my goals. I realized you can do anything you put your mind to, as long as you believe it, and put the work in to achieve it.
Here I am below at age 53 and I placed 3rd in my age group. I’ll admit, I could have done better, and I didn’t put enough work into posing and nutrition. But this still took hard work, and I was happy with my results. Proof that what you focus on will flourish.
This concept also works with relationships. We all thrive on connections with family and friends. However, with our busy lives, it can be difficult to put the time and effort into building and nurturing relationships with loved ones. Perhaps you feel guilty about not connecting or spending enough time with your children, parents, siblings, or friends. All it takes is a little thought and focus on ways to increase communication. Consider weekly calls, planning weekend get-togethers, or reading nightly bedtime stories to your children.
Think about an area in your life that you want to improve and simply take the first step. Consider your health, career, and your relationships and start with a plan. Be consistent, focus on the work, and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.
I love coffee and believe it or not, it’s actually a great incentive for me to hop out of bed early most mornings to get things done. Also, if you’re like me and you drink a lot of coffee, you may want to read my article, Is Your Coffee A Healthy Brew?
Therefore, needless to say, I’m always on the lookout for new brands and flavors of coffee and creamers. I recently found this coffee creamer in our local grocery store.
It contains MCT oil and monk fruit for a super boost of creamy flavor to your morning coffee. Per Healthline.com
Monk fruit, or lo han guo, is a small green melon native to southern China and named after the monks who first cultivated it centuries ago. The health benefits of the fruit have been well-known in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for decades, but its sweet little secret is finally making it into the wellness mainstream. It’s a sweetener that has zero calories and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Medium-chain triglycerides are a type of fat that is found in certain oils and dairy products. MCT oil is a supplement made of these fats.
MCTs have many potential health benefits, and taking MCT oil supplements may also be beneficial.
While MCTs may not lead to dramatic weight loss, they may be able to play a role in overall weight management. They may also help boost energy and endurance, although more research is needed to prove this benefit.
A growing body of research also suggests that MCTs may improve a person’s ability to think and fight the effects of conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
I never add sweetener to my coffee and most creamers have unhealthy ingredients. This creamer is a big hit with me, with natural ingredients that add a delicious, creamy- slightly sweet flavor. And best of all, I might be imagining this but I felt a boost of energy for my workout.
This is a well-balanced basic strength routine. Begin with light dumbbells and transition to heavier weights when the exercise is no longer challenging. Consider using heavier weights for larger muscle groups such as back, chest quads, and glutes.
Perform this workout 2x a week on non-consecutive days so that your muscles can recover and rebuild.
ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE STARTING ANY NEW EXERCISE PROGRAM.
Don’t forget to hydrate before, during and after the workout.
It’s important to fuel your body if you want to get the most from your workouts. This morning, I started with a glass of lemon water, grapefruit, and a protein smoothie. This provides me with the proper nutrients for instructing a calorie torching circuit workout. I plan to finish my class with my weekend ab challenge – the 300. Give it a try and let me know how you like it.
Smoothie: 8 Oz of organic almond milk, a handful of organic spinach, 1/2 of organic banana, 1 tbsp of organic flaxseed oil, 1/2 cup of organic raspberries and blueberries, 1/2 cup of greek yogurt
Our bodies need to be properly hydrated and nourished to function at optimal levels. Proper nutrition is vital to feed our cells, boost metabolism, and provide fuel for an active lifestyle. If you want to maximize your workout results, make sure to follow these tips:
Water– You should drink water before, during and after your workout. WWW.WebMD.Com reports: Drink fluids throughout the day before you exercise. Then follow this formula :
One to two hours before your workout, drink 15 to 20 ounces of water
15 minutes before you begin, drink between 8 and 10 ounces of water
During your workout, drink another 8 ounces every 15 minutes.
Ideally, a person should eat a meal rich in complex carbohydrates and protein around 2–3 hours before exercising.
Avocado and eggs, on organic whole wheat toast
Organic oats with berries, greek yogurt, and walnuts
Post-Workout Fuel: Fuel your body with a good source of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and water to help muscle growth and repair. It’s ideal to get a snack or a light meal within 20 to 30 minutes after your workout.
Protein Smoothie – Almond milk, scoop of whey protein, blueberries, 1/2 cup of greek yogurt, tbsp organic coconut oil, tbsp flax seed
Brown rice and boneless skinless chicken breast – Prepare with your favorite low-sodium spices or salsa for a nutritious recovery meal. This can be done in the crockpot, stovetop, or oven. Some athletes prefer white rice over brown to reduce possible stomach upset.
Power smoothie – Blend your favorite fruit with plain yogurt, almond milk, soy or favorite tolerated dairy, some water, and ice. A great boost of healthy fats can be added with a spoonful of your favorite nut butter.
Egg scramble – Easy one-skillet meals where one whole egg, egg whites, vegetables, and sweet potatoes can be tossed with favorite spices and sprinkled with fresh black pepper.
Pass the peanut butter – The all-American favorite sandwich on whole-grain sprouted toast is a post-workout pleaser. Leave off the sugared jam and enjoy with a drizzle of local honey. This nutrient-dense meal contains quality plant protein, healthy fat, and high fiber.
Check the leftovers – What you cooked the night before is calling your name and ready to refuel that body. Do you have cooked quinoa ready to go? Toss on salad greens and sprinkle with balsamic for a well-balanced meal.
Wrap it up – Whole grain high fiber wraps are a great start to a wonderful recovery meal. Add some fresh avocado, lean meat of your choice, greens, beans or whatever suits the theme of the wrap, roll up and enjoy.
Additional snacks to enjoy recommended by the American Council on Exercise:
Non-fat Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup fruit or banana.
Have you thought about the time you put into your workouts each week? Are your exercises efficient, effective, and geared towards your goals? Many people perform the same workouts mindlessly week after week because it’s comfortable and familiar. If you want to stay healthy and strong, you may want to re-evaluate your fitness program.
Do not start your workouts without a goal or workout plan? A fitness plan can ensure that you have a well-rounded program that includes stretching, weight training, and cardiovascular work. If you do random workouts each week, you run the risk of overtraining some body parts and neglecting other areas, putting you at risk for muscle imbalance and injury. Consider creating a fitness plan to help you schedule your workouts, add accountability, and help you incorporate variety into your fitness routine.
Plan your workouts at the beginning of the week and make sure to include cardiovascular work 2-3 times per week, weight training 2-3 times on non-consecutive days, and flexibility training 3-5 times per week.
Are your workouts structured to help you attain your goals or are you blindly going through the motions each week without results?
It’s important to evaluate your current fitness routine and determine if it’s working for you or against you. Crosstraining is vital for health and longevity. Our bodies thrive on new activities that challenge us to change our normal routines. When you constantly perform one activity and neglect other muscle groups, you are setting yourself up for plateaus and overuse injuries. If you’re still doing the same routine you were doing last year, it’s time to tweak your program to include cardio, strength, and flexibility components.
When evaluating and setting up your program, ask yourself these five questions:
1. Does my program include resistance/weight training, cardiovascular work, flexibility, and balance (stabilizer) work?
Many people perform their favorite weight training workouts, go to the same group fitness classes, or do the same elliptical or treadmill routines week after week. Body builders, dancers, yogis, runners, professional athletes, or anyone who performs the same activities each week are more prone to muscle imbalance and overuse injuries.
Consider hiring a personal trainer to design your program if you need professional advice. If you don’t have sufficient knowledge of what exercises to do or an understanding of proper form and technique, your workouts will be ineffective and increase your risk of injury.
A certified fitness trainer can create a well-balanced fitness program by considering your goals, current fitness level, and assessing any areas of weakness. For example, if you are a runner, you may have tight hamstrings and weak quadriceps, which can lead to poor performance and injuries. A trainer can suggest you incorporate other activities, such as yoga and weight training to improve hamstring flexibility and increase strength in the quadriceps.
Therefore, it’s vital to include resistance training, cardiovascular work, and stretching into your current routine. Also, don’t forget to incorporate balance exercises to help strengthen your stabilizer muscles and joints.
Many people, when starting their fitness journey, are drawn to the machines at the gym that are only isolating a single muscle at a time. This is really common and, the truth is, we don’t really know any better. We think we are “supposed to go to the gym” and we see all the machines when we get there – it makes sense, right? Wrong! The truth is, the foundation of your fitness routine should be stability and balance training in order to activate and strengthen the core and the many stabilizing muscles, improve coordination, decrease the risk of injury and work to eliminate overcompensations that probably have developed over time.
2. Do your workouts contain an appropriate warm-up and cool down?
A proper warm-up is essential to help prepare your muscles and joints for a more intense workout. Neglecting the warm-up can lead to a pulled muscle, strain, or other injuries. Your warm-up should include movements you will be doing during your workout. Therefore, begin your warm-up at a slow pace and gradually build up the intensity over a period of 8 to 10 minutes. For example, start with a slow-paced walk, transition to a faster pace walk, and then a jog.
The cooldown and stretch are just as important as the warm-up. A proper cool down allows your heart rate time to return to normal. Stretching will help elongate the muscles, improve flexibility, and help promote better muscle recovery.
Always allow for at least a 20 to 30 second stretch for each muscle group at the end of your workout.
3. Do you evaluate your progress and change your program periodically?
Make sure to monitor the progress of your fitness program. Consider starting a fitness journal to set goals and track your progress. A journal is a great way to monitor improvements such as increased strength from lifting heavier weights, improved endurance when running, or participating in an intense Crossfit workout.
Change your workouts approximately every six weeks to create muscle confusion. If you constantly do the same activity week after week, your body becomes adapted to your routine. You will develop strength that is specific to the exercise you are doing. However, repeated use of these same muscles and joints can lead to overdeveloped muscles in some parts of the body and weak underdeveloped muscles in other areas. Muscle confusion is simply changing your workouts on a consistent basis to prevent plateaus and adaptation.
A good time frame for changing your workout routine is every 4 to 6 weeks. For instance, if your current weight training workout is heavy weights, you could switch to increased reps and lighter weights the following month. If you are a runner, you could do long runs for 4 weeks and then switch to a month of shorter and faster interval runs. This creates muscle confusion and is great for increasing overall fitness and performance.
Being able to visualize your goals and progress on paper is a great motivational tool to help you get progressively stronger and increase your fitness level.
4. Does your weight training program address all the major muscle groups: Chest, Back, Biceps, Triceps (all three heads), shoulders ( ex. medial, lateral, and anterior deltoids), quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, core, and lower back (erector spinae). I hear many clients tell me they want a six-pack and they only want to work abdominals or men who only care about a big chest and biceps, but neglect their lower body. However, it’s important to work all major muscle groups to stay strong and injury free. Check out the following link for setting up a well-balanced fitness program:
Unfortunately the current fitness climate is hot for something I call enter-trainment. Much of what we see in the gym is fueled by social media. You only need to look through any fitness feed to see a multitude of handstands, olympic lifts, human flags, couples squatting each other, 1000 rep challenges etc etc.
Better to be safe than sorry and stick with the basics to avoid injury. There are countless safe and effective exercises that will help you reach your goals.