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Working Out With a Purpose: Four Main Ways to Get In Shape

Working Out With a Purpose: Four Main Ways to Get In Shape

You’ve most likely, at one point in the fairly recent past, thought to yourself:

“I really should be going to the gym more often.”

You even decide to bite the bullet and sign up for a membership.

You break out your hoodie and sweatpants, dust off your sneakers, and walk through the door…only to realize you don’t really have any idea where to start.

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You know you should be going to the gym, but you don’t know what to do now that you’re actually there.

Before you start working toward some arbitrary goal just because you feel like you should, think about what it is you hope to accomplish in this new venture.

Lose Weight

Perhaps the most common reason people join a gym is they realize they’ve gained way too much weight over the years.

If this is the case, you will want to perform exercises that are specifically intended to help you trim your excess fat stored away throughout your body.

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This is definitely not something that can be done at a leisurely pace.

You’ll eventually want to check out some of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) methods available, and see which one best suits your needs. But before you dive into such an intense regimen, get a feel for what your body is ready for. Once you have a baseline for your abilities, get ready to push yourself to the max if you want to lose the excess weight you’ve been carrying around.

Gain Weight

On the other hand, maybe you want to actually gain weight.

Of course, there’s a difference between gaining weight by eating a dozen donuts every day and by lifting weights (Hint: One is much healthier for you).

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When you gain weight in the form of muscles, you’re really replacing fatty tissue with muscle mass. Though you may have heard people say “muscle weighs more than fat,” what they mean is muscle is denser. In other words, 200 pounds of muscle weighs the same as 200 pounds of fat – but a muscular body is much more trim and lean.

At any rate, you want to avoid isometric exercises that only strengthen one area of your body. If you’re aiming to gain weight, you should focus on compound exercises such as squats and bench presses that work core muscles in various capacities.

And, of course, never, ever, skip leg day.

Boost Stamina

Perhaps you realized you needed to hit the gym after you ran up a flight of stairs and needed to stop halfway to catch your breath.

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Building stamina actually goes hand-in-hand with losing weight, so you should follow most of the same guidelines mentioned above.

One of the most important things to focus on when building stamina is to avoid routine. If you’re just going through the motions and barely breaking a sweat, you’re not pushing your body to its fullest potential. As long as you’re able to push harder, you should be.

Maintenance and Rehab

Perhaps the only time you shouldn’t push yourself as hard as possible is when you’re rehabilitating your body after an injury. During this time, your focus should be on getting back to baseline and maintaining a steady regimen.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to enlist the help of a physical or occupational therapist to help you get back to your normally-functioning self. These specialists know the best path to take on your road to recovery, so it’s best to consult with them after sustaining an injury before you start working out again. You don’t want to risk re-injuring yourself and spending even more time laid up on the couch.

After successfully rehabilitating an injury, don’t just stop working out. Take a look at other improvements you could make to your body, and make the moves you promised yourself you would after you hurt yourself in the first place.

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Last Updated on February 18, 2019

8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss

8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss

When people think of cardio, usually a boring treadmill, elliptical machine, or other mundane activity comes to mind. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

When you’re short on time or easily distracted, there are a variety of fat-burning cardio alternatives that will increase your body’s metabolism, boost weight loss, and keep you interested.

Here’s a list of different types of cardio workouts:

  • Steady State (Burns less fat, but isn’t as demanding on the body)
  • Interval Training (Burns more fat)
  • HIIT
  • Spinning
  • Stairs
  • Weight Training (Supersets) short rest periods
  • Weight Training (Compound Sets) short rest periods
  • Machine Circuit Training

And I’m going to talk about each of them in detail:

1. Steady State

Steady state cardio involves working at a low to moderate intensity — around 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, for a sustained period of time. This type of cardio doesn’t burn a huge number of calories, but it does burn a high percentage of fat tissue for fuel, and it isn’t too draining.

An example of steady state cardio would be a long outdoor walk at a moderate pace. Interval training, on the other hand, is much more intense.

2. Interval Training

Similar to HIIT but with exercises that are slightly longer in duration, interval training alternates levels of intensity. For example, if you enjoy running, you would run or sprint for 30 seconds, then bring down your heart rate and walk for two minutes.

Pick two intensities per interval, usually one at 85 percent of your maximum heart rate and the other at 60 percent, and alternate between them. I find that 85% for 30 seconds and 60% for one minute, not only burns more calories but increases my energy level as well.

Another example would be jumping rope. Jump rope for two minutes, rest for one minute. Begin again, this time jumping rope for one minute and resting for one minute. On the third and final round, jump rope for 30 seconds and resting for 30 seconds. Repeat five sets of this routine.

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3. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

Have a busy schedule? Fifteen minutes a few times a week is all you need. HIIT is an extremely popular workout because it can be done quickly, burn calories in a short amount of time, and can even be done in your home or during a lunch break at work. And the best part – You don’t need any equipment.

With the use of your body weight, HIIT is typically 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of active rest which means your heart rate remains elevated for the entire 15-minute workout.

Check out this HIIT routine by Fitness Blender: 15 Minute HIIT Workout

4. Spinning

Spinning is a great way to get your heart up and keep it up in a 45-minute spin class. Our thighs and back are our largest muscles so they work the hardest.

To get the most out of spinning, try to stay out of the saddle throughout an entire spin class. That way, you are forced to hold up your body weight which burns more calories and increases intensity.

It’s also great for stabilizing and building strong core muscles, versus cycling outdoors, where most of the time you are sitting in the saddle and going for distance (steady-state cardio).

5. Stairs

One of my favorite places to get out of the gym for cardio and trim fat from my thighs and butt is the Santa Monica Stairs, near California’s most popular beach. Climbing 170 steps a few times builds the glutes, leans the thighs, strengthens the calves, and builds endurance.

So, if the gym is not your scene and you love the outdoors, climbing stairs is a great alternative. Find a place with multiple steps, do six or seven rounds, and you’ve easily burned around 600 calories.

6. Supersets

A superset is two exercises that work opposing muscle groups, such as biceps and triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings, or different body parts such as the lower and upper body with little to no recovery between sets.

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The superset may include two to five sets of 8 to 15 repetitions of each exercise or more.[1]

So, if you love to workout with weight-training but aren’t really feeling cardio, supersets with no more than 30-second rest periods between exercises will keep your heart rate up. Not only will you build muscle, you will burn fat!

For example, say you are doing a leg workout, five sets of exercises with high reps and low weight is all it takes to turn your weight-training into a cardio workout.

Here’s one of my leg training workouts:

i. Dumbbell Step-Ups on a secure bench or box (4×15, each leg)

ii. Front Squat (4×15)

iii. Wide Stance Dumbbell Goblet (4×15)

iv. Leg Extension (4×15)

v. Leg Curl (4×15)

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    Photo Credit: Shape Magazine

    vi. Front Squat


      Photo Credit: Stack

      vii. Wide Stance Dumbbell Goblet Squat

      viii. Leg Extension

      ix. Leg Curl

        Photo Credit: T Nation

        7. Compound Sets

        Compound exercises are exercises that recruit muscles in the entire body, such as pull-ups, squats, bench press, etc. However, a compound set simply means to “compound” the number of different exercises into a series of sets with little or no recovery between, similar to supersets.

          This may be accomplished by performing four to five exercises for the same muscle group, opposing muscle groups or total body exercises performed in succession such as full body extensions, followed by squat/cleans and complete the compound set of compound exercises with lunges with biceps curls.

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          Compound sets put stress on the body and are great for expending additional calories while strength-training.

          8. Machine Weight Training Circuit

          Like compound exercises, a machine circuit workout targets the entire body, upper body, lower body, or core. The difference is, with the use of machines instead of free weights, muscle strength is increased by by making your muscles work against weight.[2] By limiting rest periods between exercises to 30 seconds, your metabolism will go into over-drive!

          Machines also give you better control over the exercises, which decreases risk of injury.

          Here’s a machine circuit training example: Muscle and Strength Machine Workout

          The Bottom Line

          The above-mentioned workouts should be completed within 30 minutes, unless you’re taking a class which is typically 45 to 60 minutes, giving you time to get on with the rest of your day.

          By keeping your rest periods to a minimum between exercises, your heart rate will stay elevated and you will burn more calories, get lean, and have more energy.

          Don’t be a gym rat, spending unnecessary time doing lengthy workouts that give you minimum results. For efficient weight loss, perform these workouts three times a week and watch the fat melt away while achieving your fitness goals.

          More Resources About Weight Loss

          Featured photo credit: Spencer Dahl via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Mountain Life Fitness: Super sets, compound sets and giant sets
          [2] Better Health Channel: Resistance training – health benefits

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