1. Don’t automatically exercise more in order to get better results. Do less.
Under stress, over scheduled, daily to-do lists a mile long and always feeling rushed… are signs you’re in need of less not more. A trainer throwing the book that they read at you might unintentionally suggest that this will change. You might hear “energy creates energy.” It’s true; if all is well. If you’re out of balance it’s not what kind of encouragement you need.
You’ve got a hole dug. And if you push through it or attempt to you’ll dig yourself deeper instead of crawling out. You need to fill the hole, replenish yourself and then you’ll be more able to do the level of activity you’d like to. While you’re NOT exercising if this describes you, you will potentially lose more weight and gain more energy than when you were exercising and driving yourself into the ground.
2. Get your sleep in better shape.
You need to know how much you need. You then need to commit to getting it. Going to bed the same time and waking up at the same time are a part of that. There’s no snooze button or sleeping in. If you’re serious about feeling better and looking better you will get sleep optimized before you exercise. You need the Growth Hormone released in deep sleep. You also don’t need the cortisol that climbs higher if you don’t get adequate (for you) sleep.
3. Lift heavy weights fewer times and less frequently.
It again is about doing LESS but doing it more effectively. Few women have the ability to bulk unless they are doing a bulk protocol (3 x 10) or overcompensating with food. A quality workout session takes 10-20 minutes and you should walk away “done” and feeling accomplished.
4. Lose the chatter.
Focus on the recovery time between sets and reps. Focus on quality of movement of each rep. If you’re doing 8 or 10 of something you can’t afford to do any single one of them letting your mind drift.
5. Don’t think doing three days a week is better than 2.
Don’t think doing a body part is better than doing the whole body. If you want to stand on stage and flex – and no judgment – then a split routine is fine. The rest of us who want fit without more time in the gym or trips to the gym, want a full body workout each time and want integrated exercises that work the core and have carryover for daily living. Twice done effectively edges out multiple day programs that require you be a slave to the gym and only isolate a muscle instead of teaching them to work in unison.
6. Do cardio. Just don’t overdo cardio.
If you still believe that cardio is going to burn calories and won’t bulk you up, listen up. It will likely leave you skinny fat and more tired. You have a better chance of burning out your adrenals and just getting more tired instead of getting better. If you wish to do a long distance event that always happens with a progression. There’s nothing accidental about it. And few marathoners lose weight while marathon training. You have to fuel.
Vary what you do so you have long days, short days, interval days and recovery days that include hiking or active living. Those can be some of the best hormone-balancing exercises you do.
7. Focus on big moves of cardio and weight training.
They are what truly tone your core. Doing core work… creates a burn. That is not a sign you are losing belly fat. To lose fat you must do cardio, strength training, modify your diet, and get sleep while losing stress.
8. Do yoga or Pilates.
For the simple reason that an instructor tells you to breath in and breath out. There is otherwise nothing magical about these exercises. They are lovely options and you might love them. We’re a big world of people with varied interests. The focus on your breath and deeply breathing into the lower lobes of your lungs is a reminder we all need. It doesn’t burn mega calories. It does make you more aware of you…your hunger, thirst, satisfaction. When you become more mindful and peaceful you may eat better and sleep better.
9. Insert one, or two rest days into your week.
Some wise information to adhere to this time of year when someone is going to challenge you to do something every day of the month. A challenge or a bootcamp with no rest built into several days in a row of hard and challenging exercise…is not going to make you more fit faster. Your recovery time is when fit happens.
10. Try New Things
No matter who you are or what you love, new movement patterns, and the unexpected are always a good thing. You will get an eye-opener about the fact that practicing one or even several of the same modes of exercise over and over only conditions you to do those exercises. When you go through a new sequence or try a new activity for the first time… it will challenge and surprise you. The good part is that it also surprises your muscles. When they are surprised they respond.
11. Shorten your workouts.
With my clients I often allow them only 20 minutes to exercise. Twenty minutes of cardio on a cardio day. Twenty more minutes later might be yoga. On a strength training day just 20 minutes. What happens is the most highest priority things get done effectively and efficiently and the rest falls aside. They see results and more energy. By the end of a week of doing that instead of their hours on the treadmill or 60 minute class, they feel rejuvenated and have often made more progress toward their goal.
If you had only 20 minutes to do it, what would be most important to include?
12. Keep an open mind.
I like to run long and slow. But when winter strikes on a mountain the outdoor running is a buzz kill. So I resort to the treadmill downstairs to retain some semblance of running form for the hope spring will again arrive. I run at 6mph when I’m going long. If it gets ugly it can be slower than that. But running the treadmill (to great music) doing intervals – because all I can stomach is 20-30 minutes on the treadmill – I’ve been doing 9 mph intervals. And loving it. Quick sprints with Billy, Bob, Bruce or Elton … (comment below if you can guess the last names…) is a joy. I can do anything for 30 seconds. So can you. Short bursts of this intensity are much better for hormone balancing than an hour slow run…even though you might be more drawn to the slower.
If you’re guilty of slogging away on an elliptical or treadmill with no intensity or feeling you “have to” put x amount of time in … rethink and balance your hormones.
When you go fast you automatically clean up your form. Your body will try to find the most efficient way to move. And usually that’s with optimal form.