Please, get off the Elliptical Trainer.
‘Tis the season for holiday parties and being social. Inevitably, I’ll meet someone at a party and it’ll come up that I am a fitness trainer. The person then becomes visibly uncomfortable, as if I am calculating body fat percentage as we speak. They’ll feel obligated to comment on the food they’re eating (I shouldn’t be having this). Sigh.
It doesn’t take long before the questions come in rapid fire. It’s like being a doctor (Doc, I got this tickle in my throat. Except it’s more like, I’ve this roll on my stomach right here…) Fortunately, I enjoy dispelling the myths and giving people the truth about fitness.
Which brings me to my topic today: People I meet ALWAYS ask me what they should do when they go to the gym. That’s really the bottom line. Most people are so clueless about what to do when they go to the gym that they a) end up giving up after not seeing results, or b) they stay in their safe zone — cardio only, coasting on the Elliptical, never making any changes. Sound familiar?
So, assuming your desired results are a leaner, stronger, more toned body (it is for most everyone I’ve met), what the hell should you be doing? Especially, if you can’t afford a good trainer? I’m also guessing you haven’t got all day to spend at the gym…
MOST people you see at the gym are wasting their time as it relates to achieving desired results. Please note I am not disputing the health benefits from a minimal level of activity. Sure, if you’re walking on the treadmill, it’s helluva lot better than laying on the couch and watching TV. I’m talking about getting results.
I’m talking about STREAMLINED FITNESS. I’m talking about prioritizing your exercises according to the number of days (and amount of time) you are able to commit to working out. I’m talking about getting your ass off the Elliptical trainer and lifting weights. I’m talking about getting the most bang for your buck at the gym. PRIORITIZE YOUR WORKOUTS.
You only have 3 days a week to work out? Good. Then you’ll be strength training with weights and not going near the cardio equipment (apart from your pre-workout 5-10 minute warmup). You have 5 or 6 days to workout? Then you may incorporate cardio-only days followed by core and abs focused work.
What baffles me is that nothing I’ve said is earth-shattering (or even news), yet I STILL see people doing the same thing over and over and over, wasting their time with ineffective exercises and doing exercises in the wrong sequence (It’s not just WHAT you do, it’s WHEN you do it).
Prioritize your exercises. Compound (multi-joint) exercises before single joint exercises (Seated rows before biceps curls, for example). You’ll want to hit your major muscle groups 2-3 times per week. You can split them up over 5 or 6 days, or you can do intense full-body workouts 2-3 times per week. Oppose muscle groups with little to no rest between exercises. Most people who’ve worked with me know my Legs, Push, Pull routine (like a mantra, really). Work between 8-12 reps on every set, knowing that if you hit 12 reps easily you’ll need to add weight the next set, and if it’s difficult to hit 8 reps you’ll stay at that weight or lighten it. Push yourself. Sweat. Breathe heavily. Strength training with weights at high intensities is the most caloric intensive exercise there is. Everyone knows this. Science has proven it. Yet, I STILL hear I don’t want to get big, that’s why I don’t lift weights. Sigh.
So, lift weights. Heavier and faster. You’ll burn more calories AND you’ll set your body up to build lean tissue – the magic bullet for boosting your metabolism and burning body fat while you sleep. Get off the damn Elliptical!