In today’s PT Intel personal trainer Kathleen Trotter shares 8 fitness and workout facts to help you make the most of your training. Besides being a personal trainer, Kathleen lives her advice, having completed 10 (count ’em!) marathons, an Ironman (well, Ironwoman to be more accurate) and 7 half Ironmans. You can also find her on Twitter.
One of my favorite annual events is the Can-Fit-Pro fitness conference and trade show – I hang out with friends, attend heath related lectures and buy new fitness gadgets. A fitness instructor’s heaven! Every year I think “fitness enthusiasts would want to know this stuff!” So, I decided to compile a list of the top “fit facts” I learned and share them with you, my fitness-curious readers. Enjoy!
Fun Fit Fact # 1 – when you do exercises like the plank, think “apples not applesauce”!
Simply put, engage your bum. We all sit so much that our bum muscles are often on holiday. To help “turn them on”, squeeze your bum muscles so your rear end becomes hard like an apple, not soft like applesauce. (In the conference we poked each other to make sure our bums were engaged. I don’t suggest that ask randoms to poke you, maybe a close friend or significant other would be willing to put your bum to the test).
Fun Fit Fact # 2 – you have to “earn the right to progress”!
Before you try a new exercise, or increase the amount of weight you are lifting, ask yourself if you have mastered the basic version and therefore have “earned the right to progress”. Asking yourself this regularly will help you avoid injury!
Fun Fit Fact # 3: Don’t be tempted by the ‘fat burning zone’ program on cardio machines.
It is not as rewarding as the name implies. Yes, maintaining a lower heart rate will cause you to burn a higher percentage of calories from fat, but (this is important) because you are working at a lower intensity you will burn fewer calories overall. Opt for a program that challenges you to work at a higher intensity. You will burn a higher percentage of calories from carbohydrates, but since you burn more calories overall, you will create more of a metabolic demand on your body. Also, since you burn more calories overall, you are more likely to create a daily calorie deficit (calorie deficit = burning more calories than you consume).
Both a high metabolic demand and a calorie deficit are needed for weight loss.
Plus, the term ‘fat burning zone’ elicits images of your adipose tissue (fat) magically disappearing off of your hips. Instead, the fat burning zone just means you use intra-muscular fat (I.e. The fat stored in your muscles) as fuel. That is a less enticing end result!
Fun Fit Fact # 4 – If you are exercising with the goal of losing weight, remember the saying, “assuming none of the expended calories are replaced”.
Exercise will only help you lose weight if you don’t replace the calories you burned with extra food. So, have a treat if you want it, but understand that the treat will effect how quickly you reach your goal.
Fun Fit Fact # 5 : Contrary to popular belief, the ‘core’ doesn’t just refer to your abdominals.
Your ‘core’ includes all the muscles that attach to your pelvis, spine and ribs. A strong core helps to protect your body by acting somewhat like the bat suit (a strong outer layer that gives your torso integrity), as well as connecting your arms and legs to your torso, ensuring your body is able to work as a unit.
Fun Fit Fact # 6 : use the concept of ‘masses’ and ‘spaces’ to improve your posture!
Think of your head, chest and pelvis as ‘masses’. Think of your neck and waist as ‘spaces’. Aim to elongate the spaces and expand the masses backwards. (You can thank the creators of the TRX machine for this fun tip!)
Fun Fit Fact # 7 – for best results, mix up your rep ranges, exercises, tempo and training frequency.
For example, if you are trying to increase muscle hypertrophy (size), cycle through three separate four week cycles. In the first four weeks, train your entire body three times per week. Do each exercise for 10-12 reps. For the second four weeks, lift weights four times per week. Split up your workouts into ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ body workouts. Do each exercise for 8-10 reps. During the final four weeks, lift weights six times per week. Do each exercise for 6-8 reps. Break up your body parts – train one or two body parts per session.
Aiming to firm up not build size? Train your entire body three times per week. For the first four weeks, do each exercise for 15-20 reps. For the second four weeks, do each exercise for 12-15 reps. Finish the cycle with two weeks where you aim for 3-5 reps. Don’t worry, doing less than 6 reps with high weight does not increase muscle hypertrophy (size). Then, repeat the ten week cycle with different exercises.
Fun Fit Fact # 8 – HITT (high intensity interval training) aids fat loss.
Why? Interval workouts produce a high EPOC (post workout calorie burn), burn lots of calories, and increases mitochondria growth (mitochondria help to burn fat).
Try this workout: do a ten minute warm-up followed by ten to twenty minutes where you alternate 30 seconds of hard work with 30 seconds of recovery. Cool down for ten minutes. Since intervals are hard on the body limit them to three workouts per week.