I get a ton of really good questions from readers and they often spark a blog post. I’m happy that people come to me for tips and advice and even happier when they bring a topic to my attention I haven’t thought of. I wrote a post recently, 10%, on the very subject a recent question I received.
I was talking with a reader who said he was working out for 45 minutes at a time and wondered if it was time for him to increase his gym time to 2 hours. No! Who wants to spend 2 hours in the gym?! I’m a gym rat and *I* don’t even want to be in the gym that long.
Not only does that not sound like very much fun (and fitness should be fun), but who has time for that? I sure don’t. I want to get in and get out as quickly as possible and I know most people’s #1 excuse for not exercising is “I don’t have time.” So make it easy for yourself not impossible!
Efficiency Is Key
In my opinion, your fitness should become efficient. It may not be in the beginning but eventually it should be. There is not reason that anyone has to spend that much time working out. Longer isn’t always better. Of course, if you’re training for a big event like a triathlon, that changes things! But the normal person should be spending 30-60 minutes at a time working out.
Check out this post, 16 Tips to Triple Your Workout Effectiveness, it has some fantastic suggestions. Another tip for finding efficiency is to learn how to use Kettlebells. When I was doing KB workouts a lot, I LOVED them. Not only was it increasing my heart rate like cardio, but I was also building muscle because I was slinging around a weight. How cool is it to get both cardio and strength training done at one time? With Kettle bells you really only need to know about 5 different moves and you’ve got yourself a workout that will kick your butt.
More Is Not Always Better
Read my 10% post!! Seriously, we shouldn’t be increasing our fitness too much too soon.
Focus on intensity instead of going longer. If you’re just phoning it in on the elliptical doing two hours you’re not really getting a good workout. But if you increased the intensity for a shorter period of time you have to work harder and in return burn more calories.
“If you have exercised for any length of time, chances are you too have fallen into this mind trap. If I walk thirty minutes and burn three hundred calories, then I will walk an hour and burn twice as many.” (source)
I’ve definitely fallen into this trap. When I had to take a break from cardio and switch to strength training, I was worried about my calorie burn. I had to come to terms with the fact that while I would be seeing a SMALLER number, I was still getting a good workout and I was actually burning more fat than I thought.
“If you over exercise, your body gets to the point where it just goes through the motions. The only thing you are really doing is satisfying your brain. The muscles shut down, hit plateaus and ache. These are all signs of over doing it.” (source)
I think I’ve written enough about injuries lately… It’s important to focus on progression, improvement and performance. Doing the same thing the same way every time doesn’t get us any closer to our goals.
Emulate What You Admire
When I first started to lose weight I chose swimming as my fitness because it was something I loved. In all of the exercises I ended up trying, WEIGHT LOSS was my only goal. If I had to do it all over again (I hope I don’t), I would have take some time to really think about what I wanted my body to look like. One of the mistakes I made while losing weight was dismissing strength training. I think I would have lost weight faster had I done this, and I would have made my body stronger and more balanced.
So take a few minutes to think about what you like to do and what body type you want to have.
For example, a sprinter has a very different body type than a marathon runner. Some of it is genetics, obviously, but take a look at the above picture. A sprinter has big thighs. Their quads need to be big and muscular to get that burst of speed. A marathon runner’s legs and body are lean and have very little body fat. Their bodies are built for distance and sustaining long periods of exercise.
“Sprinters and endurance runners do not share the same innate physiology. The sprinter is endowed with a faster muscle and nervous system while the top class endurance athlete has a huge capacity to extract and use oxygen. Sprinters display certain common characteristics such as relatively low body fat levels, great natural endowment of fast twitch muscle fibres, efficient mechanical movements and indeed low general aerobic fitness levels.” (source)
Maybe you aren’t going to be running a marathon or competing in the Olympics any time soon, but the idea is still relevant. What about a swimmer?
Swimmers usually have very broad and muscular shoulders. I struggle often to find clothes that fit my swimmer’s body type. Most clothes made for women have narrow shoulders. I feel like The Hulk when I try on shirts that aren’t built for me!
Once you figure out what body type you’re looking to develop and what fitness you want to spend time perfecting, then you can seek out assistance with those workouts. There are a billion books out there teaching you how to train for a marathon. They spell out the workout plans for day-to-day training. You can find swimming workouts online (which also helps when just swimming laps gets boring and repetitive).
Following the training plans in your arena of fitness will get you to your goal in a more efficient way and it will also give you the CONFIDENCE you need to succeed. I cannot stress enough how awesome I felt when I signed up with Suzanne for a strength training program. It gave me so much confidence as I followed her plan and saw results. You can do this!!
QUESTION: How long is your usual work out? How did you make it more efficient?