Anyone who knows me also knows I love and enjoy the time I spend at the gym. Of course its part of my lifestyle and something that I have to do, but I truly look forward to my hour of pumping iron and working up an intense sweat. However, I want to make sure my time spent is not only enjoyable, but that I’m getting as much benefit from my meathead session as possible! In previous posts, Ghada and Miss Murder have given you great facts on different things you can do to maximize your workouts. In case you have forgotten or missed them, I’m going to lay out seven actions to perform to make sure you are getting the “most bang for your buck” when it comes to your time in the gym!
I think we are all aware of the importance of having something in your belly before a workout. However, when and what you eat are key elements to how long your gym session will last. It is extremely important to prepare your body for the lifting and cardio battlefield! (Ok, a little dramatic I know, but think of yourself as a workout warrior!) During an intense exercise your body burns stored up energy. Once the energy is completely burned, your body turns to glycolysis, which comes from carbs, as a secondary source of energy. If you do not consume some form of complex carb in your pre-workout feeding, you are making yourself extremely susceptible to running on empty before your routine is complete. In short, carbohydrates are a pre-workout must to keep your engine revved. Complex carbs digest quickly and become readily available fuel. Also, any workout warrior knows protein is a necessity in building and rebuilding strong, lean muscle, so as a rule of thumb I always incorporate some form of lean protein to every meal. Now, keep in mind that you have a 60 to 90 minute window to consume your pre-workout cuisine. Always include a carbohydrate and protein. Some suggestions are a protein shake, turkey sandwich, or my favorite, oatmeal and peanut butter. Delicious!
Warm up your already hot body!
During and for a short time after your workout your muscles are warm and your blood is flowing. But for the rest of the time your muscles can be cold with very little blood pumping to them. Get your heart pumping before hitting the weights by hopping on the treadmill or elliptical for three to five minutes. This will get more blood circulating through your system and give you more power and energy in your workouts.
I will keep this short and sweet, if the weight you are lifting feels to easy, increase the amount. If you have been doing the same routine for longer than six weeks and are not seeing any results, switch it up. Your muscles need to be challenged and torn in order for them to rebuild and become stronger. If you feel like you can perform never ending reps with a certain weight, it’s a good sign its time for an adjustment. If you would like an elaboration on this topic, please read Miss Murder’s ultra informative post from November 19th.
Mix it up to maximize cardio
There are two theories to how to burn fat the fastest. The first is cardio at a moderate pace or intensity for and extended amount of time (30+ minutes). For this approach to be effective your heart rate has to be at a certain level to hit ideal intensity. Getting your heart rate to this level could take up to 10 minutes, therefore, the first 10 minutes of your work is not spent burning fat.
The second theory is high intensity cardio for a lesser amount of time (15 to 20 min).
I love working up a sweat, but to be perfectly honest, cardio is my least favorite part of my warrior routine. I don’t like spending more than 30 minutes on cardio, but I definitely want all of my minutes to count. To maximize my 30 minutes, I spend the first 10 doing something high intensity, like running at an alternating six and seven on the treadmill or pushing it really hard on the elliptical, and the remaining 20 minutes I work at moderate intensity on a stair climber or stationary bike. This way I’m getting the best of both cardio worlds!
Cool down your hot body!
During vigorous workouts your muscles become full of a toxin called lactic acid. Walking on the treadmill at a level three or doing any other low intensity cardio as a five minute cool down helps to remove this waste in your muscles. Cooling down also will help bring your heart rate and breathing back to normal gradually.
Stretch those limbs
Take a little time to give your muscles a little TLC. Stretching will decrease your level of muscle soreness and also rid them of amino acids that have built up in your cells. This means less time waddling around like a ducky!
Refuel your machine
Now that you have done an amazing job making sure you are getting the best results for the time you put into your workout, give your body something to work with. At this point the tears you have created to your muscle fibers will attempt to rebuild themselves. They need more protein! You have 90 minutes to consume lean protein and complex carbs to replenish energy and get the building process rockin’ and rollin’. You have worked so hard the past hour, finish strong with Ghada’s yummy Red Bean and Spinach smoothie or a protein packed grilled chicken breast with brown rice.
I hope that these simple tips will help you maximize your workouts and aid in achieving your fitness goals faster. Getting to the gym is half the battle, making sure you are having fun while achieving results and feeling better about yourself is the reward.
Be proud of yourself and enjoy it!
Jennifer, AKA Miss Divine