Exercise is a great way to lose weight, tone, sculpt and build muscle; but why is that so many of us hit a plateau? Many people hit workout plateaus due to not adjusting their exercise to physically challenge their body. Your body is highly resilient and adapts relatively quickly to new exercise, so without challenging it you won’t notice a whole lot of change in your weight loss or muscle gain. Your diet and nutrition is also a vital part of training and actually has more of an impact on your body than what exercise can; overeating, undereating, and fad diets are just a few reasons people struggle with reaching their goals. So, how can you achieve effective training to meet your goals? Keep reading and learn the 10 golden rules for effective training.
The Golden Rules:
Rule One – Don’t Obsess with the Scale
Weighing yourself regularly is good for tracking patterns, but it is worth noting that your weight can change even in the span of a day. Becoming obsessed with the number on the scale can become harmful and numbers do not necessarily equate to progress, or lack thereof. The more muscle you gain, the higher the number is going to be on the scale – but, when you look in the mirror you will not see it as weight gain, but lean, toned muscle. Instead of looking to the scale for results, make more of a habit of using the mirror! Of course, you will not see progress day to day, but if you take photos once a month, you will be impressed at the differences you see.
Rule Two – Muscle Soreness Does Not Equal Gain
It is easy to assume that if your muscles are sore, that you will be sculpting and building them; unfortunately, this is not correct. For people that are less fit or are new to working out will notice they feel sore after very little exercise, but this does not mean they have truly worked their muscles properly. Muscle soreness results from small breaks in the muscle fibers as you work them, and these breaks can occur from both heightened activity they are not accustomed to as well as from exercise that is challenging them and results in gain.
Rule Three – Warm Up, Cool Down, Stretching
Many people who engage in exercise and see results will recommend the importance of warming up, cooling down and stretching. Warming up prior to your workouts helps prevent injuries and increases your range of motion. To warm up effectively, start with a low-intensity activity such as jogging or cycling. Cooling down after your workouts allows your heart rate to return to a resting state, which should then be followed by stretching. Stretching after your workout is the best time as your muscles are warm and shortened and require stretches to return them to their normal state. Stretching will also help prevent muscle soreness and mobility after your workouts.
Rule Four – Switch Up Your Workouts
Changing your workouts not only challenges new muscles groups but also keeps you more motivated, engaged and more likely to stick with exercising. Your muscles easily become accustomed to repetitive exercise, therefore, in order to challenge them and see more results in terms of sculpting and toning, you must use your muscles in different ways. This is where attending group workouts regularly can be beneficial as the instructor will have a regiment that the group is following to ensure a variety of muscles are used and challenged, resulting in a well-rounded workout.
Rule Five – Increase your Intensity
The more you workout, the more you will need to increase your intensity for effective training. Bear in mind that intensity does not relate to the length of a workout, as you can have an effective, intense short workout just as you can a long one. Building your intensity involves starting with a basic exercise and gradually building on that by including weights and increasing reps. Just remember that it is better to complete 4-6 excellent reps as opposed to 20 poorly performed ones. Building intensity takes time, but you know it is time to increase it when you can complete about 15 reps of an exercise without fatigue; you can then increase your reps or weight.
Rule Six – Longer Workouts Do Not Equal Better/More Results
This rule ties in with the fifth rule regarding increasing your intensity. You can exercise for an hour, but if your workout is not intense and challenging for your body, you are far less likely to see results. You will notice this in people that go to the gym and run on the treadmill for an hour several times a week – while this is great cardio, it will not transform your life. Instead, perform shorter workouts that allow you to really push yourself to your limits and frequently switch up your exercises.
Rule Seven – Mindset is Key
Your mindset is key to pretty much everything you do in life, but particularly your workouts! When you are distracted and mindlessly performing exercises, you really are not going to get much from it. You should approach every workout that you do with a focused mind which will help you get the most out of it.
Rule Eight – Get Your Rest!
For your body and muscles to recover and rebuild the broken muscle fibers that occur during working out, you need adequate rest. Resting also helps you rebuild your strength and endurance. By neglecting rest you can actually injure yourself and undo any progress you have been making. Resting includes getting your recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night, but also allow yourself a rest day from exercise. Fear not, a day off will not cause a loss in results, as it can take your body up to two weeks of no exercise to see a noticeable reduction in your performance.
Rule Nine – Staying Hydrated
Your body sweats during a workout to cool you down – more sweat does not equal higher calorie burn, by the way! You need to make sure you are replacing your fluids during and after a workout. Without proper hydration, you will fatigue faster and can develop muscle cramps. To avoid this, the American Council on Exercise suggests that you have a cup of water about 30 minutes prior to exercise, followed by an additional cup for every 15 minutes of exercise performed.
Rule Ten – Nutrition
Food is the fuel to your body, so it is so important what you feed it. Many experts actually say that your diet accounts for 80% of the way that you look, meaning that exercise only attributes to 20% of that! Protein is one of the best things to make sure is plentiful in your diet to help reach and maintain your goals as it is the building blocks of muscles. It is recommended that you consume protein after your workout which assists with muscle repair, thereby reducing soreness. Protein levels will vary depending on your goals, but many fitness experts suggest about a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
There are so many rules and advice available for effective training, but these rules are the key and following them will help you reach your goals and stay on track!