One of the most beautiful things about the world we live in is that we are all different. We are all unique individuals with unique backgrounds. Some of us come from healthier backgrounds than others, some of us are at higher fitness levels than others. But when it comes to exercise, one thing is true for everyone—doing something is better than nothing. That said, I’m now going to contradict that point—
In previous posts, I’ve given examples of ways to incorporate more movement into your lives, speaking to everyone about general health benefits. But today I want to speak to a slightly different audience. Today I’m speaking to those of you who have been exercising fairly regularly and can manage a more intense workout. You’ve been cleared by your doctor and you’re ready to take on more.
What do you do when you workout? Do you jump on the treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike? Do you also read, check your phone and watch TV while on this equipment? If you are, you are not getting everything out of your workout that you could be. Engaging in these other activities is fine if you have basic health goals and are just trying to get moving. However, if your goal is to change your body, you’re going to need to sharpen your focus. Put the phone down, and focus 100% of your efforts on your workout, getting out of your comfort zone.
What is your comfort zone? I’m glad you asked! Simply put, it’s the amount of effort you put into your workout where you feel comfortable. You can talk to your neighbor, you’re not sweating too much, you feel “good.” Leaving your comfort zone requires you to feel tired and possibly stressed, which can be… well… uncomfortable. But remember, if you want to make a change, it’s something you’ll have to endure. Just be mindful of your body, and if you ever feel dizzy or sick, reduce your intensity level.*
A good way to judge how hard you’re working (if you don’t have a heart rate monitor) is to use the talk test. How easily can you have a conversation? If you’re struggling to get words out and breathe at the same time—good, you’re working hard, keep it up. If you cannot speak or are dizzy—back off immediately. If you can easily carry a conversation—you’ll need to increase your intensity.
In order to create a change in your body, you must make changes to your workout. A great example of this is by increasing the intensity of your exercises. Challenging your body—requiring it to endure more stress than you have put on it in the past—will produce different results than the results you are currently seeing.
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. – Frank Devito
A great way to not only challenge yourself but to break up your routine is to alternate between higher and lower levels of intensity. Shorter, higher-intensity workouts can actually burn more calories than a workout with a longer duration and lower intensity. This occurs because high-intensity interval training (HIIT) results in what is called EPOC or Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. This means your heart rate stays elevated longer and your body is burning more calories for a longer period of time after you complete your workout. It is also known as the “afterburn.” Regular HIIT also raises your resting metabolic rate, enabling your body to burn more calories at rest! Hooray!
By focusing your workouts, you will be able to make changes in your body without having to spend as much time in the gym. Focus your workouts, change your body! Check out some of my suggestions for interval training.
Peace, love and focus,
Melissa Villamizar, CPT
*Note: This posts assumes you are in good physical condition and have been cleared by a doctor for moderate to intense exercise. If you are currently suffering from a heart condition or any other chronic disease, it’s important that you get clearance from your doctor before engaging in intense physical activity.
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