Train smarter, not harder.
I’ve been at this fitness coaching game for a long time and before that, I spent several years as a pro athlete. It’s all given me tremendous insight into how the body works and what too much exercise can do to the human body.
It’s essentially the same thing that happens to a car that’s been driven for hundreds of thousands of miles – it breaks down and falls apart!
Yes, you want to exercise and push your body to new limits, but it’s all about training smarter, not harder.
Exercise is a stimulus that prompts your body to grow, repair, and get stronger. However, without adequate rest, none of this can happen and you eventually burn yourself out.
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6 Guiding Principles for Your Workouts
Here are 6 fitness tips that should serve as guidelines for how you approach exercise:
1. Work Out Less, Move More
It’s important to understand that you’ll likely get more health benefits by simply moving more throughout the day than you will by sitting on your butt and then going to the gym for an hour as penance.
Our body was meant for movement. We must honor that.
Taking the stairs, walking around the block, or getting up every hour or two to do a few stretches goes a long way towards keeping your muscles strong and your metabolic rate high. Keying into this movement mindset will keep you trim and healthy.
2. Build Muscle, Banish Long Cardio
Your body is often compared to a furnace, as it burns calories all day long. The general thinking is that working out accelerates this calorie burning. It does, but it’s not quite as simple as that. At most, exercise accounts for only 15 percent of your total daily caloric expenditure. Your basal metabolic rate actually accounts for 70 percent of the calories you burn every single day.
Thus, it makes sense to focus on increasing your basal metabolic rate, right? The only way to do that is to increase your lean body mass—aka your muscle—and that means skipping the treadmill for bodyweight or resistance exercises.
After all, research shows that too much cardio destroys your body and depletes vital fat-burning hormones like triiodothyronine (T3), growth hormone, and testosterone. Your goal should be to strengthen your body, not weaken it.
3. Train Movements, Not Muscles
Training movements better prepares you for real world and sporting situations and makes it easier to burn fat. The reason for the latter is that big movements involve more muscle and more muscle requires more energy (i.e. calories) to do the work, which leads to faster fat loss.
4. Start with Bodyweight
If you’re a beginner, start by mastering basic movement patterns like lunges, squats, push-ups, and a basic plank. You can always add more reps or time to increase the intensity of bodyweight workouts.
Once you feel comfortable with bodyweight exercises, then you can start adding in resistance in the form of free weights.
5. Lift Heavier for Fewer Reps
If strength and leanness are your goals, then lifting heavier weights in the repetition ranges of 4-8 reps is what’s required. Lifting heavier weights recruits more muscle fibers, thus burning more energy (calories). It also forces your muscles to get stronger without necessarily getting bigger.
6. Weight Training Can Be Your Cardio
Setting up a weight training routine in circuit fashion where you go from one exercise to the next with little rest in between is a fantastic cardiovascular and fat burning workout. If your heart rate is pounding and you’re huffing and puffing, then you know you’re getting a good cardio workout.