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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 25, 2021

What Should I Do Today? 30 New Things To Do Today

What Should I Do Today? 30 New Things To Do Today

It’s always fun to do something new, but often we fall into the trap of spending our weekends the same way.

If you’re stuck in the same old routine, it might be time to try something new.

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What should I do today? No ideas?

Everything listed here is something you can easily do no matter where you live, and even on a tight budget! Try out one of these 30 new things today, you’ll be happy you did.

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Try Out These 30 New Things To Do Today

  1. Visit a suburb in your city that you’ve never been to before, or somewhere you haven’t explored much.
  2. Learn ten phrases in a new language–what about Japanese, Italian or Portuguese?
  3. Listen to a genre of music you haven’t tried before–perhaps Jazz, Punk or Blues?
  4. Have a picnic in your local park complete with a packed lunch and your animal friends.
  5. Start a daily journal to write your thoughts in.
  6. Try a new cuisine–what about French, Lebanese or Korean?
  7. Visit your local library and borrow some books for the weekend.
  8. Plant some flowers in your garden. If you don’t have one, try an indoor potted plant.
  9. Visit a local museum or art gallery and view their latest exhibition.
  10. Learn a new skill–what about sewing, gardening or cooking? You’ll be surprised what you can learn in an afternoon.
  11. Say hello to a neighbor you don’t usually talk to.
  12. Make a card for a friend and send it to them with a handwritten note.
  13. Learn how to cook a new dish for dinner. We all get tired of eating the same thing, why not try making something new?
  14. Re-read an old favorite book. Don’t leave it gathering dust on your book shelf; get it out and read it all over again.
  15. Research the culture of a different country online–what about India, Guatemala or Sweden?
  16. Go for a walk or bicycle ride around your neighborhood.
  17. Watch a classic film like Casablanca, The Godfather or The Wizard of Oz.
  18. Make a photo album of a recent holiday you took. Don’t let your memories get lost on your computer hard drive; make a special keepsake album of your trip.
  19. Visit your local farmers markets and pick out some fresh produce. Farmers markets are full of delicious fresh fruit, veggies and more. Find your local market and take a visit.
  20. Plan a day trip to somewhere outside your city–it might be the seaside, mountains or another city!
  21. Check out what community events are running in your area and attend one.
  22. Make a birthday present for a friend. Handmade gifts are personal and much more special than anything you could buy from a store.
  23. Attend a play at your local theater. Support your local theater and have a fun night out at the same time.
  24. Volunteer with your local nature conservation society to plant some trees. Conservation societies are always looking for helping hands; do your bit and plant some trees.
  25. Be a tourist in your own city and visit all the popular tourist sites you’ve likely never been to (don’t forget your camera!)
  26. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to recently and have a good long chat.
  27. Put on your favorite song and dance your heart out. You might be surprised at how much fun you have!
  28. Invite some friends over for a BBQ. There’s nothing better than an afternoon spent with good friends and good food.
  29. Try out a new form of exercise like Pilates, tennis or swimming.
  30. Organize a clothing swap with your friends. You’ll have a great time, and save some cash and the environment all at the same time!

Now that you’ve read my list of 30 new things to try today, my question for you is, “what new things will you try today?”

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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