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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 July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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