Hi my friends. It was quite an emotional weekend over here. You might have seen my latest Instagram post that shares some of the details, and I’ll include more in the next round of Friday Favorites.
Today I wanted to highlight a few fitness tips that might surprise you, and I hope that you find them helpful. I learned most of them the hard way, after years of overexercising, under-hydrating, and before I earned my Personal Training Certification and Specialization in Women’s Fitness through NASM.
Thank you for checking in today, and let’s get right to it!
I don’t work out every day, and neither should you.
There was a point in time where I worked out every day, and sometimes twice a day. I’ve learned a lot since those days (many years ago), and this is not something that I recommend, nor would any fitness professional in the industry.
Your body needs rest to be able to actively recover and avoid plateaus. So if you are completing hardcore workouts seven days a week, you’re never going to give your body the chance to rest and live up to its full potential. Instead, try a mix of low and high intensity workouts with at least one rest day per week. You can still go for long walks or opt for a slow yoga flow, but make sure that you’re listening to your body on what it needs.
When the gyms are open, I typically do a mix of three strength training days, two cardio days, and a low intensity workout (like barre, yoga, or Pilates) thrown in as well. This, of course, also depends on how much running I am doing, if I am training for something specific, and what my overall fitness goals are. During quarantine, I have been trying to move for thirty minutes per day, and I do a mix of everything you see above with walks on my rest days.
It’s really important to hydrate before, during, and after exercise.
Does anyone else sweat a lot during their workouts? That’s a clear indicator that your body is losing water, and dehydration can follow if you don’t keep plenty of it nearby.
Health professionals recommend that you drink at least your body weight divided in half (in ounces) per day. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should be drinking 70 ounces of water per day. Are you drinking enough of it?
On top of going into your workouts properly hydrated, it’s important to re-hydrate while you’re working out and afterwards to replace the water that your body sweats out. It’s recommended to take a few sips (7-10 ounces) about every 10-20 minutes during exercise, and drink at least 8 ounces of water no more than 30 minutes post-workout.
Still not on board? Dehydration can cause you to lose a small percentage of your muscle and strength … which just seems counteractive to your hard work during exercise, no?
Drink your water, and see my 6 Easy Tips On Stay Hydrated for more information on this one!
You don’t have to do cardiovascular activity during every workout.
Part of working out every day that I alluded to above almost always included an intense cardio session. I used to think that I couldn’t leave the gym without an intense set of sprints, a ride, or a climb involved in my workout, and I’m so glad that I learned more about what is most effective.
Some examples of exercise that you can do for cardio training include:
- running or jogging
- a brisk walk
- cardio equipment like an elliptical machine, stair climber, etc.
- swimming or water aerobics
- cycling indoors or outdoors
- circuit training
Your frequency and level of aerobic activity can vary, but generally, it’s recommended to do one of the following:
- 75 minutes (25 minutes 3 days/week) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
- 150 minutes (30 minutes 5 days/week) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity
- 3-5 days per week of a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity cardiorespiratory fitness activities
You can change it up week by week, but the biggest take-home here is that five high-intensity workouts per week just aren’t recommended. Mix it up!
Exercising in the morning might be better for you.
But please don’t change that sentence into reading “if you can only exercise at night, then don’t worry about it.” Hear me out, and take notice of the emphasis on the word might.
Exercise releases endorphins, which gives you a boost of energy and burns calories throughout the day. And personally, it sets the tone for my day. If I start my day with a workout, I’m likely to be more productive, eat healthier, and move more. But that’s just me.
You have to do what fits best into your schedule, and if getting your sweat on after work is what works best for you, do it!
That said, there are benefits to working out in the morning that include less distractions (your brain might not even be awake yet, so the to-do list isn’t lingering), a more tolerable climate for outdoor exercise, a better night’s sleep, and an overall boost in mood, productivity, focus, and more. The next point really dives in here.
Working out can actually improve your mood.
Exercise increases the amount of serotonin released into your brain, which is a chemical that is linked to mood, behavior, and memory. Higher serotonin levels can help you feel more calm, more focused, more emotionally stable, and even happier. Lower levels of serotonin can also be linked to signs of stress and depression.
A good workout not only helps you kick a bad mood, but it can also reduce stress, regulate anxiety, maintain bone health, and more.
Core training is essential, and isn’t just for abs.
Your core is located in the center of your body and goes way beyond your abdominal muscles. Core muscles are the foundation of a good posture and include many groups of muscles in the abdomen, the middle back, the lower back, the gluteus maximus, and hip abductors and adductors.
Did you know that a strong core can help prevent and relieve back pain? If you have a weaker core, your back has to work extra hard to compensate, which can result in overtrained and tired muscles that cause back and neck pain. So yeah, defined abs are wonderful, but a strong core is important for overall health as well as aesthetics. And while you’re at it, be aware of your posture. I’m admittedly notorious for slouching, so I have to actively remind myself to engage my core and stack my shoulders over my hips in whatever I’m doing.
So there you have it. I’ve learned a lot more about fitness since I earned my CPT, but I’ll leave today’s post at that.
Please feel free to share anything you learned the hard way in the comments, too.
You might also like:
- Setting SMART Goals And How To Achieve Them
- Cable Machines Versus Free Weights — Which Is Better?
- How To Foam Roll And Stretch Before Your Workout
Have a great start to your week and talk soon!