I remember when I first started working out...
I wanted to do these crazy videos from Jillian Michaels. I watched the infomercials. I saw her on The Biggest Loser and I thought, I can totally do this.
I mean I’ve never really worked out like this before, but what could go wrong? The workouts only take 30 minutes, 5 days a week. I just need to follow the video and everything will be fine.
But this approach is all too familiar for many women.
When we decide to make the commitment to working out, we tend to do one of the following acts of craziness:
Then we do the first workout.
Two days later, we can’t move because we are pretty sure we’re dying.
And inevitably we give up, stop, and tell ourselves that’s too much for us.
Until a few weeks later when we repeat the cycle over again all while that DVD box set or Total Gym is still collecting dust in our house.
And while I applaud all efforts to start a regular workout routine, the challenge that you face with this approach is the lack of focus on the basics.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, then starting on the first one.
~ Mark Twain
You have to walk before you can run.
You have to sit in a chair before you can squat.
You have to build a firm foundation before you can stand on it, which brings me to the fundamental basics of working out. The things that are going to bring you the most bang for your buck.
FITNESS BASIC #1 - WHAT SHOULD YOU DO: WEIGHTS VS CARDIO
Hands down, strength training beats out cardio for the things you’re looking for such as weight loss, toning up, and less time spent working out.
In other words, it’s the most effective in order to reach your goals.
Now this doesn’t mean you have to become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger. All it means is that you need to pick up the iron in some form. For example, I strength train for 60 minutes, 3 times per week. That’s all I need to maintain where I’m at. And if you're new to strength training, check out my guide on how to get started.
But what if my goal is lose weight and not maintain it?
You still lift the things girl!
Strength training increases our muscle mass.
Increased muscle mass helps boost our metabolism (even at rest).
A boosted metabolism helps our body burn fat more efficiently.
In other words, it helps our body lose unwanted body fat in an effective and efficient way.
Does this mean we don’t need cardio? Not necessarily. I recommend looking at cardio in ways not associated with weight loss.
Use cardio as a stress reliever or for entertainment...an activity you enjoy. However, the million dollar question is how much should we workout?
Enter point #2.
FITNESS BASIC #2 - MORE VS. BETTER
How much you workout depends entirely on you and your lifestyle. The end.
Ask yourself these questions:
Now that you know how much you can workout, it’s time to strike a balance between strength training and cardio.
Start with strength training as 80% of your program. If you can only workout 3 days a week, find a full body program. 4 days...utilize a 2 upper/2 lower program.
Once you have that settled and assuming you want to add cardio in, sprinkle in the least amount of cardio that YOU want to do to start. You can always add to it if you want but start with the bare bones.
Because cardio fails as a long term weight loss tool. Our body adapts quickly to it which means that eventually you have to continue to do more and more to get the same bang for your buck you received when you first started.
And who wants to do MORE boring ol’ cardio??
However, if you’re like me and refuse to do any cardio, then do what I do, and lift weights faster. ;)
Now that you’ve determined what to do and how much, let’s talk about intensity.
FITNESS BASICS #3 - BECAUSE INTENSITY MATTERS
As the saying goes, you get out what you put in.
So what kind of effort are you putting into your workouts?
Are you half-assing it? Just going through the motions?
Or are you pushing yourself each and every time?
If you want results, the level of effort and intensity you bring to your workout matters. In strength training this means increasing your reps or weight lifted every time you workout. If you’re a runner, it means knocking time off your 1 minute mile.
In essence, you’re progressing at whatever you’re doing.
No progress, no results.
So push yourself. Push the limits of what you think you can do. But always be safe.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~ Maya Angelou
I am a wife, mom, grandma & former professional “diet and exercise hopper" who understands the challenges of being 40lb overweight after having children & the damage repeated sense of failure can cause to your confidence and self-esteem.