Winter is behind us and the mercury is rising. For many that means getting back into the fitness swing this spring.
Though, exactly how much do we need to train, what type of exercise offers the best results, and most importantly, how do we find the motivation to do so?
"A good majority of the general population aren't typically self-motivated to work out. For the most part, we might find that to be due to lack of knowledge," Run Coach, Personal Trainer and Pilates Clinician James Trenerry told The Huffington Post Australia.
"The fitness industry was born from the request for guidance and assistance in this area. Just as when we seek to fix our cars or our laptops, we seek advice on how to 'fix' our bodies. Unfortunately, some fat cat sitting in a big brown leather chair eating hamburgers found a way to make our industry one of the biggest money makers in the game, and now we find it hard to know where to look for gold standard advice."
Trenerry is right. Everywhere you look there's fitness advice that not only contradicts what you might have just read elsewhere, but a lot of it is unrealistic for the average person. That's why it's important to understand there's a difference between 'ideal' and 'achievable'.
"If we want to get super technical here, research tells us that to maintain a good level of fitness, fight off disease and keep our muscles and bones in check we should aim to complete three resistance-training based workouts per week, and up to 300 minutes of cardio training per week. To what degree should we attempt to achieve this? For optimal results, when applying load to our muscles through resistance training, we should aim to train to fatigue or failure."
"It terms of cardio training, a good measure of whether or not we're achieving a 'cardio workout' (which will strengthen and better support good heart and cardiovascular health) is the ability to maintain a flowing conversation during said workout. If we're able to coherently discuss the latest instalment of The Bachelor blow-by-blow or revisit all the major plays of last weekends AFL match without breaking for air, we're not quite there unfortunately," Trenerry said.
Keep in mind, that's the optimum amount.
"Of course, this amount of exercise is the end goal. If we're only just now thinking about taking up a 'fitspo' way of life, take the time to build towards this goal by breaking up these sessions into small chunks across a seven-day period," Trenerry said.
"Let's look at the practicality of fitting all these sessions into our already bursting-at-the-seams busy lifestyles. 'Eff that' our little voice says, as we shift all this info into the very back of our brain -- the 'too hard basket'. Though there is a solution. My number one tip for anyone trying to naturally 'nip and tuck' leading into spring has to be getting involved with quality boutique group fitness classes which specialise in the safe execution of balanced and dynamic resistance training, combined with elements of cardio work."
When Trenerry refers to boutique group fitness he doesn't mean your traditional gym class.
"We don't mean that place you go where they pile 30, 40, or 50 people into a room with one instructor who also teaches 72 other styles of workouts. We mean the places you go where qualifications and experience are key and engrained in culture, class sizes are 10-15 clients maximum, and your trainer knows your name, workout history, goals, injuries, and makes a solid effort to ensure you have a good time.
"This is where we get the best quality customer service, experience and therefore results for our time (and money). Plus, we can work out and create new friendships and communities to support our goals. Before you visit any boutique group fitness studios, always do your research and ask for qualifications and experience," Trenerry said.
As for the time of day you should take these classes, it's up to you.
"Training in the morning versus training at night is very much a personal choice. Like many business owners, I need to get my personal stuff done early, and this includes training. I find training in the morning helps to kick-start the day on a high by filling my system with endorphins, energy and happiness knowing that I've starting achieving goals first thing," Trenerry said.
If you're starting a new training regime you need to find what works for you and your schedule. Here are Trenerry's pros and cons to both.
Training in the Morning
- Pros – achieving goals early, kick-start your day on a high, more productive throughout the day, increased metabolism throughout the morning, a good excuse to be late for work.
- Cons – that 5am wake up, rushing around in the morning, risk of working out without a sufficient warm-up.
Training in the Evening
- Pros – a great way to switch off from a long day, optimal time for pre-workout snacks, no requirement to wake up early.
- Cons – potential feelings of being tired after a long day, increased energy might cause restless sleep, late dinner.
With any sort of training schedule, rest days are required. Best. News. Ever.
"Rest days play a big part in achieving our overall goals, and are often more important if we're either just starting a training regime, or coming back to training after a leave of absence," Trenerry said.
"Let's revisit what happens to our bodies during and after training to look for reasoning here. When training (both resistance training and cardio training) we place our bodies under higher than normal levels of stress, which we call 'loading'.
"During a period of loading, our living tissues fatigue, and become worn. The best examples to look at here are the micro-tears our muscles experience after a period resistance loading. These tears are a normal part of training and muscle growth, but need a bit of time to repair. Similar effects are happening all over our bodies after training, so we need to rest," Trenerry said.
"If we continually load our bodies too much too soon without rest our internal structures will not respond effectively, and could cause injury or inflammatory disorders i.e. tendonitis. Under the assumption we're training a little everyday, try to implement a rest day once or twice a week."
Rather than performing absolutely no activities on these days, look at a rest day in a more modern sense as an 'active recovery day'. An active recovery day might include things like swimming, cycling, or Vinyasa yoga -- low impact activity.
"As a general rule, perhaps perform active recovery until no longer sore for the loading period prior."
At the end of the day Trenerry stresses a point we all know but choose to ignore -- the true key to getting back on the fitness wagon this spring is to never get off in the first place.
"Health, fitness, well being -- whatever we're going to call it shouldn't be a seasonal pastime. Improved quality of life starts by taking care of number one (as selfish as that sounds)."
We should aim to:
- Get our nutrition on point
- Find a training regime which includes both balanced and dynamic resistance training, combined with elements of cardio work
- Slow and steady wins the race with the incorporation of active recovery days to break things up.
"To see results we'll need to get a little bit uncomfortable. A little sweaty, and a little sore. With so many choices for training in the market, it's the best time in history to go after our health and fitness goals. Find yourself a dynamite, empowering activewear get-up, and don't forget to post your workout on social media. If you don't post about it, it didn't really happen," Trenerry jokes.
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