I began a 12-week gym program, which is in the form of a competition, to see who can change one’s body the most in that time period as well as their lifestyle.
The program involves partaking in an intensive training regime, taking part in lectures and seminars focused on training and nutrition and changing your eating habits to reflect your new-found lifestyle.
I am quickly discovering that exercising consistently and at a consistent level will give you far better results, and that cardio-vascular workouts are just as important as weight training to achieve the body you want.
Two weeks into the program I have found that while my weight training is going reasonably well and I and other people are seeing results, it lacks consistency. Taking days off is not the answer to my soreness – perhaps I could lower the intensity of my workouts a notch instead.
I am also finding that I need to increase my cardio-vascular workout intensity. While I have lost centimetres from my waistline (based on measurements taken prior to the start of my training program) I have gained weight – presumably muscle mass.
To combat this I need to increase the intensity of my cardio workout. Varying the cardio activities I undertake could also help with this as my heart rate changes with each exercise. A good way to burn fat is to ‘stagger’ the intensity of your cardio workout.
For example, if I were to warm up with 10 minutes of walking, then for 10 minutes alternate between running for one minute then walking for one minute this would change my heart rate every minute. The effect this kind of exercise has on the heart rate has been proven to be a very effective fat-burning way to exercise.
Nutrition is an important part of any intensive workout program. If you are trying to achieve weight loss, it is important that your output is greater than your input. This means that we need to burn more calories when we eat and lower our fat intake. Research shows the most calories are burned when we are resting, so it makes sense to increase the speed at which this happens. The rate at which calories are broken down or metabolized when we rest is called our resting metabolic rate. Increasing muscle mass plays a major part in increasing our resting metabolic rate. Eating also increases our resting metabolic rate, so it pays to eat five to six small meals per day rather than three large meals.
Protein is also important as it plays a crucial role in building muscle mass. It also helps you to feel less hungry. Try to incorporate a serve of protein in most of your meals. If you find you are not hungry when it comes time to eat again it probably means you ate too much for your last meal. However, it is important not to skip meals as your metabolic rate will continue to decline until you eat again, so eat something small instead. If you are finding that you are still hungry after eating try having a large drink of water. Water is a very important element of any balanced diet, and more so if you are undertaking a training program. Often dehydration can be mistaken for hunger – meaning we feel hungry but are actually thirsty. A large drink of water also helps to fill your stomach before you eat.
If you are lost for what to eat, try muesli with low-fat milk for breakfast, a protein shake and fruit for morning tea, a meat and salad sandwich for lunch, a protein shake and fruit or rice crackers for afternoon tea and meat and vegetables for dinner. Make sure not to over-do it on the carbohydrates, as unused carbohydrate is stored in the body as fat.
Kate and Phil Wiley run the popular health site Advice on Health.
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