Work on Your Workout
Good Basic Advice
I think you guys are going to pretty proud of me. You know why? I actually spoke to a legit scientist for this edition of Scientifically Speaking! Even better, it was one of USANA’s own nutritional experts.
It’s a good thing, too, because when I decided to dive deeper into the subject of exercise, no one had better advice than our Senior Scientist of Product Innovation John Bosse.
As a Registered Dietician and Certified Personal Trainer, this dude knows what he’s talking about it.
My guess is that anyone reading this has struggled with their exercise habits at some point, so pay attention as I do my best to regurgitate John’s advice into simple, easy-to-understand chunks of workout advice.
Why Work Out?
We could cover hundreds of different exercise tips, but let’s discuss why you should be working out in the first place.
John Bosse’s best advice? Find a workout program you can stick with.
If you think the sole purpose of visiting the gym every day is to lose weight, you’ve got it all wrong. Of course working up a sweat expends calories, but it’s also a great way to increase production of certain enzymes that help to metabolize the carbs, fats, and sugars we eat daily.
And, over time, working out leads to a decrease in your resting heart rate, lower blood pressure, and a healthy, efficient cardiovascular system.
John put it like this: our bodies are constantly using energy, and regular workouts build a better army of enzymes that take the fats and sugars out of the blood by pulling them into our cells. This burns energy in a healthy way that keeps our bodies running smoothly.
Oh, and these workouts can also condition our immune systems by repeatedly challenging your body to recover from strenuous exercise.
Avoid the Common Mistakes
Many of us choose to stick with a workout plan that we think is better than the rest, assuming it will put us on the fast track to the cover of that national fitness magazine. But guess what? Just like my last relationship, you’re probably making a huge mistake.
You might think the countless miles racked up on that fancy treadmill will have you looking like Captain America or Wonder Woman in no time. Sorry, but while those aerobic workouts may get your body moving, they’re only working on what’s called type I muscle fibers.
So yes, with a limited-calorie diet, the running will shed the pounds, but without working your type II muscle fibers, you’re not only losing fat, but lean muscle mass as well. This isn’t the result most people are looking for.
If you’re confused, don’t worry. I was a little lost when John started talking about the different types of muscle fibers as well, but let’s stick with what’s important: you need to engage both of these muscle fiber types, and there are a few ways to do so.
Stick with your cardio, but also incorporate these kinds of exercises and diet tweaks.
- Resistance training — Yep. Sorry folks, but you can’t avoid the weight room if you want all around health. You can get creative if you’d like, though. John said moving or lifting any heavy object in a safe manner is resistance training. Make sure you’re able to perform about five to 15 repetitions, lifting an amount that really pushes you to finish those last few reps. And if you’re struggling, start small and gradually work your weight up week by week.
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) — HIIT workouts consist of brief bursts (five to 15 repetitions) of intense activity, or “sprints,” interspersed with slightly longer (30 to 90 seconds) periods of less taxing activity. This can include sprinting, jumping, bike training uphill, or even pushing, dragging, or carrying a heavy load. Pushing each interval to the max is the secret of burning the same amount of fat or more in half the time of an aerobic workout.
- Protein — Muscle and protein are best friends, especially when you’re breaking down muscle tissue during a strenuous workout. Afterwards, that muscle flips into recovery mode, which is where the protein kicks in to help build back stronger, leaner muscle mass. So make sure you’re incorporating plenty of protein into your diet, especially shortly before and after intense exercise.
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These three tips can help immensely with the maintenance of lean muscle tissue, which is important in the long run.
Recent studies have even shown that compared to extended cardio activity, the caloric expenditure of these types of exercise may be less during the actual workout, but greater throughout the rest of the day.
Essentially, these high-intensity workouts have a greater impact on your body’s Excess Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) period, otherwise known as a heightened state of recovery when the body is working to replace glycogen and return to homeostasis.
Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself
Listen, this is a lot of information. And if you’re new to the whole workout game, it can all seem quite confusing, but I really wanted to give a more in-depth look at working out. So I apologize if I’ve scared you off, because the truth is that anyone can start an exercise plan and get healthy.
If you get too caught up in small details, you miss the point of developing a new habit. It’s about deciding to make a change and sticking to it by showing up at the gym every day. This won’t happen if you don’t find something you enjoy and that’s sustainable.
A word of caution: this doesn’t mean you get a pass on the hard stuff or get to skip what you might be scared of. New habits may grow on you once you see the results of getting outside your comfort zone.
Make sure you’re pushing yourself to your limits, balancing the types of exercise you’re getting, and incorporating a healthy ratio of carbs, protein, and healthy fats. These are the basic steps to making your exercise work for you.
In John’s opinion, if you can’t do these things, “it doesn’t matter what the science says.”
Whoa. I promise he will never say that again…