With the New Year, we all tend to see or make resolutions to exercise more and get in shape.
However, this can be a short lived goal if you do not see the progress you want in the time you wish to see it in. While progress can feel slow, there are plenty of ways to help maximize the benefits of exercise.
Let’s take a look.
Be Consistent with Your Exercise Routine
One of the most important things is to reaping the benefits of working out to maintain consistency. This doesn’t mean doing the same thing every day. What we mean by “maintain consistency” is to partake in exercise regularly.
If you are new to working out, aim for getting up and moving for at least 4 days a week. This may mean to work out one day, rest the second, then alternate workouts and rest days after that. As you become more advanced, however, you can progress up to 5 to 6 days of exercise every week.
Switch It Up: Try Strength Training
As stated above, you should not do the same workout every single day. Instead, you should get a mix of both cardio and strength training.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, adults should get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week. This can include exercises like walking, swimming, dancing, and even gardening. If you participate in vigorous aerobic activities, such as uphill hiking, running, or jumping rope, you only need 75 minutes of aerobic exercise a week. (You should note that it is recommended that you split your time between multiple days, typically 20 to 30 minutes per session.)
Similarly, the US Department of Health and Human Services also recommends you strength train 2 to 3 times a week. This is because building muscle burns more fat over time and has been proven to significantly boost your health.
This is true regardless of gender. Unfortunately, there is a myth that weightlifting will make you bulky, which many women find intimidating. However, this is not true. Women who lift tend to lean out, not bulky. This is because most women lack the genetic makeup to gain bulky muscles most commonly associated with body-builders. In fact, as a woman, if your goal is to bulk, you will likely need to take supplements to do so regardless of how heavy you lift.
Fuel Your Body
Fueling your body with the right foods helps maximize the benefits of your exercise. Sugars, alcohol, and certain carbohydrates may taste great. However, they can hinder the results of your exercise and take longer to burn off. They add unnecessary calories and introduce additives to your body that are harder to break down or absorb. This is counterproductive if you are serious about a healthy lifestyle and can make your exercise efforts seem pointless.
It is also important not to under-eat. In order to lose a pound of fat in 1 week, you need to burn 500 calories a day. While you may think under-eating will quicken your results, especially when combined with working out, you are mistaken. This will send your body into starvation mode and force it to burn off your muscles instead of your fat stores.
Water is essential for optimal functioning. Not only is it an important part of staying hydrated; it also helps to lubricate muscles and keep your organs working properly. This is vital if you want to maximize the benefits of your workouts. It also helps with post-work out recovery so make sure you drink plenty of water every day to maximize the benefits of your workouts.
Get Quality Sleep
Getting enough quality sleep is also essential to maximizing the benefits of your workouts. Why? When you sleep, your body goes through its most intense recovery period. This is when your muscles repair themselves, your brain resets, and your energy levels are naturally restored.
Your mattress can affect your quality of sleep. If you find yourself failing to get a good night’s sleep, it may be time to consider investing in a new mattress. Organic mattresses may not be featured in the commercials you see for mattresses, yet they are among the healthiest. From clean manufacturing processes to natural materials, organic mattresses provide a comfortable sleep without exposing you to toxins and harmful fumes that can affect your health.
Vary the Intensity
If your exercises become too easy, it is time to increase the intensity. Continually doing the same thing, which will become easier and easier, does not help you maximize the benefits of your exercise.
High intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, is one way to include dynamic exercises in your regime that will continue to challenge you. Not only does it increase the value of a single work out, it also pushes you to your limit and helps boost heart and respiratory health as well.
Don’t Forget to Stretch
Stretching is equally as important. From engaging in simple yoga to just doing a warm up and cool down stretch, stretching helps lengthen your muscles and prevent injuries and stiffness from settling in.
As your flexibility increases with your stretches, it also allows you to continue to push yourself harder during your subsequent work outs. This means you will continue to progress and get more from each work out when you include regular stretching in your activities.
Take Time to Rest
Rest is just as important as the exercise itself. You should allow for 2 days of recovery during the week. That does not mean you sit around doing nothing. While 1 day of solid rest is wonderful, the other should include what is known as “active recovery.” This could be taking a walk, doing some extra stretches, or something similar. This allows your body to recover from more strenuous exercise without allowing yourself to grow lazy.