Things Your Trainer Wished You Knew.

Its  January. So naturally the gym is the trendiest spot to be. Packed classes, crowded weight room floors, and a whole bunch of inspired New Years Resolutions. It can be a little “over the top” and naturally all of the excitement makes it easy to go overboard and quit come February 1st.

You need an action plan. To beat burnout, train smart, and make it to next year having reached your resolution goals. Whether you have a new years health resolution or are just eager to get back into your fitness routine, these  training tips will help you make sense of all the New Years fitness madness  and get to next year a success. This year, avoid sabotaging your workouts by following the advice below. 2012 is YOUR year to pace yourself, train smart, and accomplish ALL your goals.

Top Tips From Your Trainer.

The things we want you to know to be SUCCESSFUL with your fitness goals. 

Top Tip #1: You Need To Switch Up Your Workouts

Its the truth. After doing the same cardio/strength routine your body adapts and you burn fewer calories. Eventually your results – weight loss, muscle definition – will slow down. And repeatedly placing stress on the same muscles and joints could lead to an overuse injury. Heres your ACTION PLAN: Once a month, change one thing about your cardio and weight training regimens. Take a dance class instead of your saturday run, or use a resistance band instead of dumbbells. Not only will you see better results with a varied plan, mixing things up may help you stick with exercise in the end. A 2011 study conducted at the University of Florida found that people who varied their routines enjoyed their workouts more – and exercised more regularly – than did people who went with the same thing everyday.

Top Tip #2: Cardio isn’t the magic bullet for weight loss

While biking, running, and walking are good for your heart, research suggests that its difficult to lose fat if you do only cardiovascular activity. Although aerobic exercise will burn calories, it doesnt really change your metabolism. What does? LEAN muscle mass. Muscle helps you build more calories even after your workout is over. The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher you’re resting metabolic rate (the baseline amount of calories you burn in a day). Women tend to lose five to seven pounds of muscle in each decade of adulthood – one reason why the pounds creep up as we get older. Wayne Wescott, director of fitness reasearch at Quincy college has found that if you do strength training three times a week, you can add an average of three pounds of muscle in about three months, increasing your metabolism by 6 – 7 percent. Want to learn more about the metabolism boosting and weight loss benefits of strength training? Check out these posts:

Ok so you need the weights… here’s how to incorporate them into your exercise routine:

Keep doing cardio 3 times a week but add in two or three strength training workouts. Aim to work all the major muscle groups over the week; complete one to two sets of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise. To get started, check out the American Council on Exercise for an extensive library of weight training moves.

Top Tip #3: Wimpy Weights Will Get You NOwhere

It’s the fitness principle known as OVERLOAD. For muscles to become stronger, they have to be challenged with a load that is heavier than what they are used to. Think about how much your purse weighs (come on ladies…. we all know we pack about 20 pounds minimum in those things), will wimpy 3 pound weights really cut it if you can carry that massive thing around all day? Without challenging your muscles, you can’t substantially strengthen or tone them. Wimpy weights equal weak results.

Avoid this pitfall with this action plan: Choose a weight that you can lift for only 10 to 15 repetitions before losing good form. Trainers call this “working to failure.” (that doesn’t mean your arms should feel like noodles when you’re done or that you cant bang out a second set after a minute or two of rest.) Don’t worry, you WONT bulk up. Despite all the evidence, people still tend to blow off weight training for cardio thinking its a “bigger calorie burner”. Disregard what you may have heard through the grapevine. If you want to lose weight, you need to lift it. As mentioned above, strength training increases your endurance, stamina, and your body’s lean muscle mass. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat. Therefore, increased muscle mass equals more calories burned at work and at rest. Not only that, but muscle is denser than fat. Weight training can help you shave inches off your body and maintain a leaner appearance. So get in there  and pick up weights that MATTER!

Top Tip #4: Crunches aren’t crucial for strong abdominal muscles.

When working for a stronger core, crunches are not the best choice as they only strengthen a few core muscle groups. Whats more, if your abs are weak, doing crunches could strain your neck, since you’ll probably be pulling on it in an effort to lift your torso. You don’t have to eliminate crunches from your workout plan, but you’ll get more bang for your buck with moves that work the entire core area. The plank is a perfect core move – and one that you are very familiar with if you come to my classes in San Francisco. Need more ideas? Try out this video:

Top Tip #5: A workout doesn’t merit a post gym pig out. 

I hate to break it to you…. but you can’t out-train a bad diet. When you are feeling virtuous after an exercise session, its easy to eat back all the calories you just burned…. and then some. Even if you’re training an hour (or more) each day, if you consistently consume more than you burn, you may not lose weight at all and probably add a few pounds to the scale. To manage your weight the key is to keep a neutral energy balance by consuming the calories that you need without consuming extra, which will be stored as fat on the body. A registered dietitian can help make a program to get you at your correct energy balance (or deficit if weight loss is your goal) without sacrificing nutritional needs. Your physique is 80% diet and 20% training. Match your workout efforts with a clean eating plan to make real results happen in the gym. To stave off grazing after exercising, have a healthy snack an hour or two after your workout. Need some ideas on what to nibble? Check out a list of my favorite healthy snacks as well as this post on workout nutrition dos and donts.

Top Tip #6: Bad form is BAD NEWS when you are strength training.

When I see someone lift with bad form I get concerned. Not only can improper form diminish results… it can lead to injury. Even if you have been weight training for a while, its a good idea to brush up on form. You can find videos that illustrate good lifting form on the website Or even better, invest in a session with a personal trainer. A few general tips for strength training: Keep your pace slow, steady, and controlled (use muscles NOT momentum to complete each repetition). When doing upper body exercises keep your wrists straight and neutral. For squats and lunges – align your knees, ankles, and toes. When bending over for an exercise (like a dumbbell row), keep your back flat. And always keep your neck aligned with the rest of your body. Take the time to know what good form looks and feels like for best body results ALL your life 🙂

Top Tip #7: The “fat-burning zone” isn’t really a fat burning zone.

This myth has been around for ages and has prevented many exercisers from reaching their weight loss goals. “The Fat Burning Zone” lies between 50 and 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. When you exercise at this low intensity, your body draws energy from fat. As your heart rate goes up, more energy (calories) comes from carbohydrates. It might seem “logical” that to lose fat you should keep your heart rate low. But that’s not the case.

Working out at a higher intensity might cause you to burn a lower percentage of calories from fat in favor of calories from carbohydrates. But the truth is, you still burn more total calories working out at a higher intensity. And that is the real key to slimming down. Plus since you use more total calories working at higher intensities, the total amount of fat burned increases too. In the end, it pays off to pick up the pace in your workouts.

Dont fall victim to this fitness myth with this action plan: Slow steady workouts are a good place to begin if you are just starting your cardio routine. But as you get more fit, bump UP the intensity. Try interval training once or twice a week on non-consecutive days: Work at a high intensity for a short spurt (say 30 seconds), lower the intensity to recover (for 90 seconds) and repeat for 20 to 30 minutes.

Top Tip #8: You don’t need a full hour for an effective workout. ANYTHING counts as long as you strive for QUALITY. 

Ever heard this excuse: “It’s hard to find time to exercise in my busy schedule. I need at least an hour to really get a workout.” ? Yea me too. And that little lie prevents many from getting to the gym at ALL. Believe it or not,  it actually takes very little time and effort to improve your health significantly. And as the old saying goes, “why spend thousands on hospital bills later on in life when you can spend just a little bit of your time each day taking care of your health?” All it takes is a modest 30 minutes a day. If you can’t do anything more, recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say a brisk 30 minute walk a day can help maintain a healthy weight plus may reduce your risk for hypertension, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and certain types of cancers. You’ll also benefit from stronger muscles and bones, a reduced chance of injury, improved mood, increased energy, improved mental health, and a longer life.

Do you have any New Years Fitness Advice that has helped you reach your goals in the past? Leave your tip as a comment below – together we can help each other find success with resolution goals.  

Armed with the above advice I am positive you’ll make it a HEALTHY, happy 2012. I believe in YOU, your goals, and your ability to achieve them. Happy New Year, cant wait to enjoy the next twelve months of fitness fun with you.


Other Things To Check Out This Week:

3 Replies to “Things Your Trainer Wished You Knew.”

  1. During a season of lists this is a standout. Getting fit and staying fit may well require lifestyle change that goes well beyond 5 trips to the gym per week. But, that’s a really good start. Check out The Myth of Discilpline by Charles Poliquin that’s been circulating recently. Gets right at the root of lasting change.

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