The past year has been tough for all of us in so many ways possible. One thing that is complained about over and over again is quarantine weight gain. It has affected many people around us and is something that can become an issue if there is no plan in place to solve it.
Just to mention, weight gain is NOT always a negative thing and it is not a bad thing for all people. Weight gain is, in fact, normal and a part of life. However, when it begins to affect our health, our mood, our physycological state and well-being, that is when it becomes a problem. With most other problems, there is a solution to this one. Eating healthy and nutritious food is important, ofcourse, but what you do in the gym is much more important than you may think. Here are some HIGHLY affective workouts you should add to your workout routine in order to help you achieve your body and health goals.
- HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training
I don't doubt that so many people have already heard about this type of training and there is a reason why. High-Intensity Interval training, most known as HIIT Training, is a form of cardiovascular training that involves alternating intervals between intense exercise and short breaks. During the intense intervals, the effort that is put in should be 100% all that you have. Unlike other cardiovascular training that is low-intensity, this type of cardio is usually done for as little as 10 minutes to 30 minutes at a time and is highly effective even done for a short time. Here are some examples of HIIT sessions:
- Treadmill: Sprint at the highes speed you can for 30 seconds on, then lightly jog or stop for 30 seconds. Your sprinting speed should be challenging and not a normal running pace for you. Repeat this 10 times.
- Bodyweight: Fast jumping jacks for 40 seconds, off for 20 seconds. Fast Jump Squats for 40 seconds, off for 20 seconds, High-Knees for 40 seconds, off for 20 seconds. Fast Burpees for 40 seconds, off for 20 seconds. Mountain Climbers for 40 seconds, off for 20 seconds. Repeat this one more time for a total HIIT workout of 10 minutes.
- Machine: Stairmaster steps at a high level for 20 seconds, low level for 40 seconds. Repeat for a total of 15 minutes.
This type of training allows your body to raise its resting metabolic rate for 24+ hours AFTER the workout is done. In other words, your body turns into a calorie burning machine AFTER your workout is already finished due to the effects of this intense training. Keep in mind that HIIT shouldn't be done every single day because of its intensity, it is just as important to give it a day or two rest from HIIT.
2. Compound Exercises
It is not as scary as it sounds. Compound exercises are just exercises that workout multiple muscle groups at one time in one exercise. This means that while you are doing a smith machine squat or a barbell squat, many muscle groups are challenged during that squat. The glutes, quadriceps, hip flexors, and even your abdominal muscles and back are all affected and working. Some other examples of compound exercises are deadlifts, shoulder press, push-ups/pull-ups, chest press and a clean and press. You can even get creative and do a lunge with a bicep curl at the same time which would be considerd a compound movement. When performing compound exercises, your body is burning more calories because more muscle groups are working at one time. It also elevates your heart rate and improves strength to be able to perform better in the gym and in daily functional activities such as standing, walking, running, bending down, etc. It also is a great way to shorted your time spent at hte gym by providing you with a challenging yet effective workout strategy without leaving out muscle groups.
3. Superset Exercises
Adding a superset to your workouts will literally leave you feeling like superman (or superwoman) after leaving the gym. A superset is when you perform 2 different exercises back-to-back and then rest and recover for a short period of time. The two exercises are of your choice. Most people choose two exercises that work similar muscle groups, but you can choose two exercises that work completely different muscle groups. This is effective because it essentially doubles the work that is done to your body and still allows you to recover comfortably after the working set is over. Similar to compound exercises, supersets allow your time at the gym to shorten so that you can hit a great workout without having to take up too much time. Here is an example of superset exercises:
- 13 Squats for one set, 13 deadlifts immediately after for one set, rest for 1 minute. Repeat for a total of 3 sets.
- 10 bicep curls for one set, 10 tricep kick-backs immediately after for one set, rest for 1 minute. Repeat for a total of 3 sets.
- 20 lunges (10 each leg) for one set, 15 shoulder presses immediately after for one set, rest for 1 minute. Repeat for a total of 4 sets.
4. Prioritize Weight-Training
When asking individuals what their fitness goals are for themselves, almost everyone responds with "I wanna tone up and lose some body fat". What they really mean is building some muscle and being able to show it while shedding body fat. So that means wake up at 6am, do one hour of cardio and lift for 10 minutes every single day. I am here to tell you that one hour of cardio a day will steer you away from a toned body and put you down a rabbit-hole you don't want to enter. Lifting weights is highly effective at building muscle which in turn helps the body burn more calories at rest. This is because muscle burns more calories than fat in the body. So, the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will become. Many people make the mistake of doing too much cardio and actually losing muscle tissue. Cardio is a great tool for weight loss and improving heart health, but it is not the ned all be all to achieving a toned, sexy body. Doing too much cardio can out-do the muscle you worked so hard to build, which results in a slower metabolic rate. Sure, you may lose weight due to the water weight, muscle lost, and maybe some fat, but it will then be much more difficult ot KEEP it off. Does this cycle sound familiar? I know it does for me. In my experience, lifting weights is the single most important and the best thing I have EVER done for my body. I can safely say that I am in the best shape of my life, thanks to the squat rack and the dumbbells at LA Fitness.
Nat's Tip: Personally, I have seen the best results lifting weights and sticking to a a routine at the gym. If you're stuck on how much cardio you "should" be doing or you're afraid of losing muscle, start with the weights. Do not be afraid to enter the free-weights section at the gym. You don't have to start with the heaviest weight possible, just one you are comfortable with and go from there. My workout routine starts with a 5 minute walk or run to warmup, and always leads to a 30-45 minute lift session. Some days I end my routine doing HIIT cardio training or a low-intensity cardio session to cool down. I USED to begin with 30 minute cardio sesssions and be so exhausted that I had no energy to put into lifting weights. I thought it wasn't as important as cardio because I wanted to lose fat and achieve a "toned" look. I ended up seeing little to no results in the gym and continued this cycle for a very long time until I began experimenting with weight-lifting. It is the bes thing that I have ever done. [If you're a beginner at working out in general, always always consult with a certified personal trainer or healthcare provider for any concerns or questions you may have regarding creating a workout plan, a weight-loss plan, etc, before attempting any workout I mentioned above. Please look out for yourself as I am not a certified trainer, healthcare provider, or professional].
Now, this is the time to put on your favorite kicks and make sure they're tied tightly. Implementing these strategies into your routine WILL NOT disappoint. Give your body the time and effort it needs and you'll be seeing a superstar in the mirror.