Featured Contributor

Three Secrets to Knowing Whether Your Exercise Time Will Pay Off by @lgfit

by Luci Gabel | Featured Contributor

You don’t have much time to exercise.

So when you do, you want to get the most out of the time you spend.

We don’t see the results of exercise immediately, so it’s important to know if the time and energy you’re investing in your workout is going to pay off in the way you expect.

There are three secrets to knowing whether you’re going to get the results you’re looking for.

When used together, they always get results:

1. Burn the most calories possible.

If you want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight as you go through life, you need to be burning as many calories as possible during each workout.

Bigger muscles and larger, harder movements burn more calories. 

Your glutes, hamstrings and quads (butt, front and back thigh) are your biggest muscle groups. They are followed in general order by your back, then abs, chest, shoulders, and finally arms. Inner and outer thighs are somewhere in the middle of the list.

To put this in context, if you want your legs to look great, you’ll get more return your time if you do a squat or a lunge which involves large movements of your glutes and entire leg. You’ll also get all these muscles and more (legs, glutes, abs, back and sometimes arms) working when you walk, run, use the elliptical or stairs. These exercises will burn more calories and bring more results in 30 minutes than standing at a ballet bar and squeezing your glutes and inner thighs for that amount of time.

It’s not that smaller exercises and smaller muscle groups don’t count, because they’re very important for muscle balance and joint alignment. But, to burn the most calories and see the most improvements from an hour-long workout (or even a half hour), make bigger muscle groups and bigger movements dominate your workout.

In addition, if your heart gets to pumping harder while you’re exercising, that’s a sure sign you’re getting both cardiovascular and calorie burning benefits. On that note—

2. Exercise for specific results.

Your body responds specifically to the work you give it.

  •   If you want to be stronger and have muscle tone, you need to do resistance exercise (weights or bands) to create muscle. You’ll be stronger, and you’ll see the definition in your body that the muscle brings.
  •   If you want a healthier heart, lungs, and blood vessels, you need to do cardiovascular exercise. This means movement that causes your heart to beat higher and for longer than the 90 seconds of time it increases when doing a strength exercise.
  •   If you want more flexibility and not tighten up and feel stiff after sitting for long hours at the desk, flexibility needs to be part of your exercise equation. Yoga is a good exercise for flexibility.

Want a powerful body that matches your powerful life? Do all three of these types of exercises regularly.

You can’t get all of these benefits from one movement or one type of exercise. In fact, if one exercise attacks more than one of these aspects at a time, you’ll get less benefit from each. If you want to look great, and/or keep your body in the best shape possible for as long as possible, you’ll want to alternate all three of these workouts throughout the week.

3. Be challenged.

No challenge—no change. You don’t need to do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) every time you exercise. In fact, it’s not recommended that you do. But, you do need to have some workouts during the week be challenging enough that you honestly felt you could not do any more when it was time to stop. Then your body will adapt to the challenge, and you’ll see physical results.

Some days, it’ll be challenging enough just to get to the gym and finish your workout plan. Other days, you’ll feel you can push yourself harder and that’s when you should!

In short:

To see real results from your workouts, burn the most calories possible with exercises that emphasize large muscle groups and large movements; rotate through cardio, strength, and flexibility-focused workouts throughout the week; and challenge yourself in some way each week.

I often get questions like:

  • Can I tone my thighs by doing squats while putting laundry in the dryer?
  • How much weight can I lose by doing leg lifts at the bar?
  • Do I get all the exercise I need from yoga?

What do you think my answers are?

Does your workout have the elements above? Let me know in the comments.

And share this post if it helped you or if you think it might help your friends!

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