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The More The Better? 7 Wise Ways To Workout That Help You Make Progress

The More The Better? 7 Wise Ways To Workout That Help You Make Progress

Ever felt that your motivation to exercise and workout is directly proportional to the progress you make? The motivation soars until the day you realize you’re not getting any better. Most of us exercise to live a healthy life, and workouts need to fit into the time available through the day. Doing more to break through the plateau is not an option most of us can afford. So how does one make effective progress efficiently?

1. Stick to the program

Sohee Lee, NSCA Certified Trainer, advises against changing your workout schedule too much. This is common practice among people who aren’t seeing immediate gains from their workouts. Consistency is the key for making progress. You must trust the chosen program and follow it diligently for at least 4-6 weeks before deciding if any changes need to be made. It doesn’t have to be the latest and greatest fitness magazine program.

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2. Increase the frequency

If you can only spare a couple of days a week to workout, you’re unlikely to see progress. Working out a couple of days is a great starting point. But this isn’t nearly enough for the changes to last. Shawn Arent, Professor at Arizona State University, advises that depending on your physical fitness level, the number of workout days needs to be increased to 4-5 days a week. However, this also doesn’t mean not doing anything on other days. You must strive to be active on those days too. It doesn’t have to be a high intensity cardio or a run, just a walk should suffice.

3. Add productive exercises

The biggest bang for the buck exercises are compound or multi-joint movements. These movements recruit more muscle fibers and thus burn more calories. These exercises are also great for building overall strength and body balance. Some of the best compound exercises are bench-press, squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, and military press. According to Wayne Lambert, author of “maximize your fitness potential” the effort required to perform these exercises also helps you get a cardio workout at the same time.

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4. Warm up

Not warming up before an exercise routine is inviting trouble in the form of injuries. A systematic review of over 32 studies revealed that warming up (excluding stretching) is known to improve exercise performance (1). A warm-up only needs to engage the muscles involved in the day’s exercise routine for about 5-10 minutes.

5. Progression training

Your muscles grow when stimulated through resistance training. However, your muscles also adapt to stimulation. Doing the same number of repetitions and sets at a comfortable resistance isn’t going to do much for you. You must strive to increase the workout intensity in the form of higher repetitions, higher resistance, or reduction in rest time between sets. This is called progression training. The number of maximum repetitions performed per set will depend on your goals. Researchers from American College of Sports Medicine suggest increasing the resistance by up to 10% when training for a specific number of maximum repetitions. However, performing the exercise with proper form trumps added load anyday.

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6. Perform high intensity cardio

High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a more efficient cardiovascular exercise solution than low-moderate intensity high volume cardio exercise. HIIT is characterized by short bursts of all-out effort or sprints followed by slightly longer periods of recovery, e.g., a 20 second running sprint followed by a 1 minute light jog. Interval training is proven to boost athletic performance by increasing the size and number of mitochondria (2), the energy production components of a cell. Higher density of mitochondria results in greater levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy molecule in cells. This means more energy is available to the working muscles. A 20 minute HIIT cardio session is likely to result in better results than a 45 minute steady state cardio session.

7. Track your workout

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

For you to know what isn’t working for you, it is important to track your workouts. Whether it’s using an app or just a good old notebook. Tracking your exercise schedule will give you vital clues as to what changes need to be made to the program when progress halts. Track resistance/weight, workout duration, number of sets and repetitions, type of exercise, rest time, and mood. You can then gauge which variables to tweak to put you back on the path to progress.

References

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  1. Fradkin AJ1, Zazryn TR, Smoliga JM 2010 Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis, Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24 (1):140-8.
  2. Gibala, M. 2009. Molecular responses to high-intensity interval exercise. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 34 (3), 428-32.

Featured photo credit: Skinny Guy Goes 2 Gym via skinnyguygoes2gym.com

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Last Updated on January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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