Physical weakness gives us shaky confidence. When you beat yourself up over losing weight or, time and again helplessly talk yourself into quitting the sinful foods you love, you are not really doing yourself any favors to feel happier or healthier. You are more likely to feel deprived and miserable.
Start the year with the determination to get stronger in both mind and body. How? First and foremost put some planning into your workouts and commit to quality over quantity. Utter cluelessness about your exercise schedule results in hesitant dilly dallying around the gym that is hardly going to convert into noticeable progress.
Remove reluctance out of the equation and replace it with focused intensity and you might get a considerable after burn from even 15 minutes a day!
Metabolic conditioning is the soul of successful workout programs such as P90X, Insanity and CrossFit that have produced many ripped bodies across the globe. If they sound far too complicated or intimidating to be within your capacity’s reach, then there are still simpler ways to scale down the same principle to your individual capacity.
You only need to start with the mental shift to take your focus OFF the scale and inch tape for a while to turn your attention to improving your performance numbers. Those are the numbers that count and will turn you into a total badass if you only take out the time to put in the effort. Nothing matches the glory of good old fashioned hard work!
The abuse of alternating weight training with cardio intervals
Amidst the fat loss obsessed gym crowd, nobody wants to put in the time to build some serious strength. The little strength training that such people do is often negated by reverting to the nearest cross-trainer or treadmill for longer than what might be labeled as an interval. It might get some results in the beginning but is not sustainable in the long run. Either you are setting yourself up for a burn out if you are going all out or simply wasting time if the effort is half-hearted.
What you need? Boundaries set by numbers
Cut confusion completely by limiting your workouts to a time period or target repetitions. When you clearly know your goals, you eliminate delusions about perceived effort.
The following are three training strategies that demand serious effort in limited time and are worth cycling in an exercise plan.
Fat Loss Four (FL4) training style
The title sounds fancy but it is a highly versatile format to get a full body workout inside or outside the gym and a favorite of many celebrity trainers. Feel free to add resistance or limit to simple bodyweight moves according to your ability. A typical layout comprises of four exercise circuit done in quick succession. The selection criteria and duration of each move should be as follows.
- Any upper body exercise x 30 seconds followed by 15 seconds of rest
(Example: Push-ups, Shoulder Press, Bench Press, Barbell rows)
- Any lower body exercise x 30 seconds followed by 15 seconds of rest
(Example: Air squat, barbell squat, goblet squat, deadlift, lunges, leg press)
- Any core / torso strengthening exercise x 30 seconds followed by 15 seconds of rest
(Example: Plank to push up, Renegade rows, Swiss ball knee tucks, mountain climbers)
- Cardio burst x 90 seconds
(Example: Jump rope, jumping jacks, high knees, sprints)
Rest for one minute and repeat two more times.
Amrap vs Afap (As many reps / rounds as you can VS As fast as possible)
Amrap is a term made popular by CrossFit that took good old-fashioned circuit training to a whole new level of intensity. If it takes you 40 minutes to complete 3 rounds of a typical circuit at your gym, then next time aim for 4, 5, 6, 7 or more by going as fast as possible through all the movements while retaining good form. This means no 5 minute rests in between or free time for casual chit chat. Reduce the resistance if you have to, since the focus is on BOTH taxing your muscles as well as getting your heart rate up.
Sample Workout: CrossFit 15 minute Amrap ladder of a 3 exercise circuit
The repetition of the following 3 exercises increases by 2 with every round. For instance, perform 2 repetitions of each in first round, 4 of each in second round, 6 in the third round and so on.
- Goblet Squat
- Sit ups
Perform as 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16…… until the timer buzzes at 15 minutes. The total number of repetitions of all the exercises combined is your final score. Aim to beat that at every attempt!
Also, now and then, use the criteria of Afap (As fast as possible) to hit goals like 50/100 consecutive squats, pushups, pull ups, burpees or similar body weight moves commonly used to measure physical fitness. They will serve as a benchmark for your muscular endurance and let you know if your fitness abilities are improving as you experience delay in fatigue, even if the scale refused to budge.
Metabolic boosts cannot get any shorter. According to the Japanese physician who invented them, incorporating Tabata style circuits in daily exercise routine for six weeks improved both aerobic and anaerobic levels by 28% as compared to people who restricted themselves to activities of moderate intensity.
Pick one exercise or a pair and perform them continuously for 20 seconds of work followed by ten seconds of rest until your timer buzzes at the four minute mark. Go for as many reps as you can (amrap) during each 20 second interval.
Tabatas serve as awesome finishers for single body part training at the gym. For instance, you may perform four minutes of pushups at the end of a chest workout or 4 minutes (x20 seconds of work – 10 seconds rest) of air squats at the end of a heavy leg day.
Even as a stand-alone substitute workout, tabatas are great for a quick calorie burning thrust when you have nothing but your own bodyweight or a pair of dumbbells at home. About.com provides a sample workout explaining how to pair popular strength training exercises using the tabata format to get a full body fat torching workout.
Use either or all of the above strategies to guarantee a leaner and stronger self in 2016!