When you go into a big box gym most of the weight room space is filled with machines such as a seated chest press, seated row, leg extension, etc. Then there is usually a small space dedicated to do more functional exercises that doesn't involve a machine, like dumbbells, suspension trainers, medicine balls, BOSUs and so on. This is the area you should be spending the majority of your time. Why? With the functional equipment you have to engage and recruit more muscles. We are all busy, so isn't it better to take an hour workout and do it in half the time while getting the same benefits or more? Let's look at a seated chest press. First of all you are sitting. Need I say more about that one. The muscles worked are chest, a little tricep and shoulder. Now let's look at a push-up. This puts you in a plank position, so already we have to recruit core, glutes, and inner thighs along with shoulders, chest and triceps. The demand on the chest, shoulders and triceps are greater than the seated chest press. Even if you did the push-ups on your knees or at an incline, you are recruiting more and using more muscles than sitting at a chest press machine.
Many gyms have exercise machines because they sell memberships. If people walked in and only saw dumbbells, TRX straps, stability balls and a bench or two, they would walk away. The main reason is they are not sure what to do. Machines are usually easy to maneuver and for the most part the chance of injury is minimal. If you are in this situation I suggest getting a session or two from a personal trainer and learn a few workouts using a suspension trainer, such as a TRX strap and a few other functional pieces of equipment. You will be amazed what it can do for you.
My "short on time" workout program uses these methods. You have an app and each exercise in videoed. You can take it to the gym and learn how to do these great workouts. They will also get your heart rate up so you are burning more calories and once again getting more bang for your buck. My favorite kind of workouts!
I have been reading a great book called "Work Stronger" by Pete Leibman. In the book it talks about habits for more energy, less stress and higher performance. Here is a section straight from the book that sparked this post, "It's possible to reach the top of your field if you drink five sodas a day, if you have a sedentary lifestyle, or if you sleep fewer than six hours a night. It's also possible to complete a 26.2 marathon by doing cartwheels, by jogging backwards, or crawling on your hands and knees. However just because something is possible, that doesn't mean it's a smart strategy."
One day I was having lunch with my sister and I noticed her taking a pill after we ate. I asked her what it was and she told me it was a fat burner. She takes it after she eats and it helps to burn calories. What she especially liked was she didn't have to workout. I told her what it really does is raise her heart rate which could be dangerous and that she would be better off getting her heart rate up and burning calories naturally through exercise. Let's just say that my advice went in one ear and out the other. A few days later I get a call from her. She had just left the emergency room. She was at work and she started sweating and her pulse was really high. It scared her so she went to the ER. Guess what the culprit was.....the fat burner. There are probably some people who had success with the fat burning (at least that is what the internet said according to my sister) and others who reacted like my sister. Again, just because something is possible, doesn't mean it's a smart strategy.
What got us where we are now may have worked, but how can we improve to take ourselves even further? I have clients who have plateaued in their weight loss and ask me how they can get past it and start losing weight again. What once worked now needs to be changed and updated and taken to another level. That doesn't necessarily mean work harder, but work smarter. Look at all your habits and what can improve? None of us are perfect. We don't eat perfect everyday. We should get 7-8 hours a sleep at night, but some nights that may be impossible. Especially if your child has an 8 PM basketball game that doesn't get you home until 9:30 PM and you have an early morning client (not that I'm complaining). I am sure you can relate. The goal should be that we try each day to do the best we can. Use the best habits we can and success will come.
Here is a check list to follow:
Remember short cuts and bad habits may get you so far, but it won't get you the best results. Try your best each day to create good habits and stay smart with your lifestyle. Who knows what you will achieve.
It is a new year and you may have your resolutions ready to go, but let me add one to your list. It's easy and can change your life. Reduce the amount of sitting in your day. Did you know that sitting is just as bad for you as smoking? Some researchers are listing it as the new cancer. Being sedentary and not getting movement in your day can lead to serious health problems?
Sitting for a long time causes the body to burn less fat and blood to flow slowly which can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and other health issues. There is a new term called Non-exercise activity thermogenesis. (NEAT). This is a term associated with general activity we do throughout the day, such as walking, cleaning the house, yard work, etc.. It's not planned exercise, but it's not sitting or laying down.
Even if you did a good workout in the morning you should still try and continue to move throughout the day. A physical therapist friend of mine did a little research on this. He had one of his employees workout for a full hour. The workout was hard and the employee burned a lot of calories. Then he had the employee sit for the rest of the day in front of a computer. Another employee who was a fellow physical therapist didn't do a planned workout, but was on her feet all day. She moved throughout the day and did not sit. Both had on devices to record calorie burn and the physical therapist who moved throughout the day burned more calories than the employee who did the hard workout.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't do a planned workout, but no matter what you need to continue to find movement in your day. If you have a job where you sit behind a desk all day then get up and walk around as much as possible. At lunch take 10-15 minutes and walk around your office building. Get up from your desk and do squats or lunges. Anything you can do to take a break from sitting.
A standing desk is a great option. I am typing this blog behind a standing desk right now. If you take the subway or train to work, stand instead of sitting. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park far away. You know the drill. Anyway you can find movement in your day, do it. You will burn more calories, improve your health and decrease your chances of health issues.
is the owner of The Good Body Personal Training. With a Bachelors of Science degree in the fitness field and 25 years experience in the fitness industry, she has become an expert in the field of exercise science and a well known personal trainer.