Who wouldn’t like to look more toned in their spring and summer clothes?
When you’re in a hurry to get results, use these tips for faster fitness. You might be surprised to find less is more.
1. Trade quantity for quality
Ditch your “go-to” long run for some hill training or fast exercise. Anything you feel you “have” to do may need a refresh. Your mind wants the fix but your body likely needs the break. Override.
Use this example: Susan walks 3-miles most days of the week. For a boost in her results, she can trade two of those 3-mile walks for 30-minutes of power walking every other block. Her goal is to be so out of breath she wants to slow it down between those fast walks.
2. Try something new
Pickle ball, hiking, paddle boarding, or suspension yoga might be calling. Answer. Don’t rule out low calorie-burning activities. If you love them, chances are they’ll be helping decrease your stress level. That will help you with weight management. There are likely things that have been around for years you’ve never tried. Take a Tai kwon do lesson or show up for badminton next week. Decide that you’re going to boost afternoon productivity by walking for 30 minutes of your lunch hour.
If we use Susan from the example earlier, we might suggest she do some kickboxing for a change. Walking is wonderful activity but it’s linear, meaning it only moves you in one plane of movement your body needs to be truly fit. A boxing workout will add some rotation and lateral movement that will really increase Susan’s overall fitness level.
3. Increase your overall activity and decrease “workouts”
Used to long workouts at the gym? Shorten your workout to 30 minutes and spend the afternoon hiking and exploring somewhere new instead. The exchange is an excellent hormone-balancing, stress-relieving flip that may burn fewer calories but result in weight loss faster because of happy hormones.
The sweet spot for exercise frequency is twice a week. It seems when you exercise enough to get stronger and boost stamina and endurance you will be more active in your daily life. That results in more energy expenditure. Be sure that your workouts aren’t wearing you out so much that you end up recovering on the couch.
4. Get the Goldilocks frequency for your weight workouts
In a recent study, lifting twice a week vs. once resulted in a lean weight gain of 3.1 pounds compared to the .7 pound lean gain in one time a week exercisers.
If you’ve gotten into the Monday-Wednesday-Friday habit just because that’s when class is offered or you think more is better, rethink. Data from the aforementioned study showed that lifting twice a week resulted in more energy expenditure. Researchers believed the more frequent exercisers compensated with more couch time while the twice a week lifters had more energy and were overall much more active throughout their days.
5. Avoid blowing your efforts with wrong nutrition timing
How you fuel after exercise also either positively or negatively impacts your muscle. Post-exercise meals high in protein with minimal carbohydrate supported more positive hormone response. Ingesting too many carbs post exercise negates positive hormone change in growth hormone and testosterone, both necessary for lean muscle production. If you’re older, consider waiting an hour after vigorous exercise and bumping your protein intake a bit. There’s a blunting effect after exercise that prevents you from using that protein, and older adults don’t synthesize protein as well so it takes a little more.
Remember our friend Susan? Say she plans her workouts after work. Once she’s back home she prepares dinner. If she’s timing things right she’ll be ingesting a high quality protein meal at the perfect time for her body to process protein. She may want to jump in the shower before she heads to the kitchen to prepare a quick meal so she can optimize the benefit of the walk for her muscles.
6. Try yoga as a fat burner
No, I haven’t lost my marbles. Yoga is not notoriously a big calorie-burner. Yet, it can be a big boost in your ability to burn fat by reducing cortisol. No, you don’t need to go into a heated room and start dripping sweat before you even down dog to get results. Just the mindful breathing in and breathing out can help.
If you’re an emotional eater (aka, have a heart rate), it might be especially helpful for you to start a yoga practice that happens right before your evening meal. A few minutes can make a big difference.
The simple awareness yoga gives you of your body may be to thank for slowing you down when you eat. Whether you’re on the floor in a restoration yoga pose feeling your belly rise and fall with the breath, or doing a more vigorous flow actually using your core to move pose to pose, both are equally effective at bringing you into the moment. When you sit down at the table with mindfulness you’re more likely to make good decisions.