If you are looking to tone up after the Christmas binge session, then look no further. I am going to provide you with a guide to help you achieve your goals for the new year, to get you closer to that ‘summer body’ that so many of us crave for.
Now, you can attend the gym, or go on a diet but how about a healthy combination? I don’t mean, eat salad 24/7 and work yourself stupid during your workout, there needs to be a balance that suits both needs. After all, you will need as much energy as you can saver whilst working out.
A lot of people will brag about how long they have spent at the gym because they did a 2 hour stint, but what have they actually done within that 2 hour session? A key thing to remember is that, it is not about how long you are at the gym, it is about what you get out of it whilst you’re there. I attend the gym regularly, and I see so many people sitting on benches for 5 minutes without even doing anything, or to be stood chatting with friends for long periods whilst no work is being done. These are probably the kind of people that go home and say that they were at the gym for 1 and a half hours, but only worked out for 25 minutes.
Whilst you are at the gym, you need to ensure that you are exerting yourself as much as possible, whilst ensuring that you are comfortable with what you are doing. Between exercises/sets take 1 minute rest each time, remember rest is king! You need to allow your muscles to recover once they have been fully exerted, continuously working out without any breaks will burn you out faster than you can run on the treadmill!
There are different methods of training, most commonly; Progressive and Overload. Progressive training, will see you gradually improve what it is that you are doing over a period of time and this could relate to; an increase in weight, more repetitions, longer time period, faster speed achieved.
Overload training is working to your maximum on every exercise, and pushing yourself to achieve what it is that you are doing, using this method you will use a combination of muscles groups.
To begin with you will want to get used to certain exercises and routines, so drop the weights and focus primarily on technique. If you are getting the technique wrong, you will never achieve the desired effect from that specific exercise. And whatever you do, do not watch how someone else in the gym does the exercise because you don’t know where they learned how to do it. Ask for a personal trainer or look online.
The biggest mistake many people make is that they design a routine of what they will do at the gym and only stick to that routine. If you do this, you will only reach a certain level. The best routine is a different routine, vary the exercises from day to day and target different muscle groups. Apart from this improving your results, it will also keep you more interested and motivated at the gym.
If you are training with weights, be careful not to stay on the same weight for too many weeks, as your body gets used to lifting that specific weight size it then begins to lose its effect on the targeted area. It is good to regularly challenge yourself and move up a weight. This works the same with a cardio machine, if you are too comfortable on a specific speed or gradient, increase it!
Repetitions, how many should I do? If you are looking to tone or to build muscle, short repetitions of many sets is key. So maybe 6-8 repetitions of 4-5 sets on each exercise to feel the most benefit. If you are finding that you don’t feel a great deal during those 6-8 repetitions, wait until you have done the 5th set. If you still don’t feel a great deal then you know that next time you can lift heavier.
If you are seeking to lose weight or to improve your endurance, the repetitions need to be long with few sets. So target 10-12 repetitions (15 at a push) with 3-4 sets.
It is a good idea that on your first day of the gym, you find your maximum 1 repetition on each exercise, this will help you to establish what you need to aim for and after a month do it again and if you are training properly you will find that your 1 rep max has increased.
Whilst you’re training at the gym, no matter what you are trying to achieve you need to eat good food groups to provide you with that energy.
(Try) Stay away from sweets, fizzy drinks, crisps and chips. They will do you more harm than good, despite how yummy they taste! In truth if you cut those aspects out of your diet, in fairness you’re probably not eating that badly. Maybe you need more protein in your diet, or maybe you need to cut down your portion sizes.
Tasty healthy meals can be made, they don’t need to be boring. Try to stay clear of using different sauces as a condiment to your meals, they are actually pretty bad for you! Great subsidies to chips can be found in rice, sweet potatoes, new potatoes (cooked several different ways) and brown pasta.
Go for meals that include chicken or red meats to get the most out of your meals, whilst ensuring that you get plenty of salad and fruit into your diet as a subsidy for snacking as much as you can.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, make sure that yours is a good one! Porridge with strawberries is actually a lifesaver, scrambled egg (3 eggs) on brown toast with avocado instead of butter is brilliant for filling you up for the morning. Try to drink at least 2 litres of water a day as this will help with your training whilst providing your diet with a healthy fluid subsidy for all of those fizzy drinks.
Last but not least, alcohol and smoking. Smoking can stunt your growth in more ways than one, whilst also reducing your regulatory system meaning that your endurance whilst in the gym will suffer significantly. So if you’re going to try and do both, you will never achieve the best outcome from your work at the gym.
Alcohol, alcohol, alcohol…
If you don’t know it already, alcohol does give you a beer belly and this relates to any alcoholic beverage. Be mindful of how much that you consume, even if you only go out once a month, and on that night you drink every drink that flashes across your glistening eyes, that will make a huge effect on your body. A great thing to do if you do have a heavy night drinking, hit the gym the very next day or go for a 3 mile run. Sweating the alcohol away straight away will prevent it from settling right on your stomach, fight that hangover!
Within the next few days I will be blogging a full exercise plan and diet plan. Stay Tuned!