No matter what your goals are, training frequency is important to success. Without it your system will be lacking valuable training time it needs to shed body fat, build strength, and become highly physically functional. Humans are meant to be physically active every day. This does not mean performing high intensity exercise every day of the week. It simply means performing a variety of functional and intensity appropriate exercises for your level of fitness on a regular and frequent basis. Frequency of exercise is also dependent on your fitness goals. Note that it is very important to take at least one day off a week to rest and recover. Over-working your body can lead to injury. On your recovery day replace a work out with lite and restorative physical activity such as walking, stretching, gardening, bike riding, playing with your pets, children, or grandchildren, washing your car, house-keeping, or any other physical activity that you find pleasant and rewarding.
- 1-2 days/week- Good for maintenance and slow, gradual improvements, but not great for rapid results or weight loss
- 2-3 days/week– Allows for greater variety in training that will bring your skill set up to speed quickly and resulting in faster changes in body composition.
- 3-4 days/Week– This is ideal for weight loss and athletic performance
- 5-6 Days/Week– Allows for rapid development of skills and fat loss while building lean muscle and excelling in all areas of training
Research has proven that short bouts of high intensity exercise have a greater impact on your fitness level and overall health than longer, lower intensity, distance type workouts. Training with short duration, high intensity exercise rapidly develops your ability to perform more work in less time. This simultaneously benefits your endurance level. It also boosts your metabolic rate, allowing you to burn more calories in the course of a day. Research also shows that optimum exercise intensity for fitness improvement is in the range of about 60 to 90% of maximum heart rate. The degree of intensity is relevant to your fitness level. The higher your level of fitness, the higher the appropriate exercise intensity should be. It is important to adjust the intensity of your work outs to your appropriate level of fitness. Training at too low of an intensity will not produce results. Training at too high of an intensity could result in pain or injury.
Variety and Function
Using movements that benefit daily functional life and/or improve athletic performance is our focus. Because your body works as an entire unit to perform functional movements, selecting exercises that train your body in this way is crucial. We will seldom use exercises that train one muscle only. Bicep curls and leg extensions are examples of isolation exercise selection which only work single and specific movements. Burpees, clean & press, deadlifts, and thrusters are examples of combination movement exercise selections that benefit function. These are all movements that are replicated in day-to-day life. Keeping your routine full of variety not only keeps you from getting bored, but also (more importantly) helps prevent injury. At the same time, variety maximizes the way your body responds to exercise by keeping it in a constant state of adaptation – maximizing results.
You can’t outrun and bad diet. How you eat reflects how you are going to look.
Proper nutrition is crucial to how your body responds to exercise. It is the determining factor on how your body burns fat, builds lean muscle, and performs during high intensity exercise. Give your body what it needs to function properly and to meet the demands of your physical activity… nothing more! You should eat just enough healthy foods to support your athletic performance, but not enough to support body fat. This requires you to consume a well-balanced and portion appropriate diet every day.
Experiment with your diet by cutting out unhealthy foods one or two at a time. Examples of unhealthy foods that could be contributing to your inability to lose weight and perhaps fatigue are fried foods, sweets, chips and crackers, processed food, foods containing saturated and trans fat, sodas and sweet juices. If you have already removed foods like these from your diet, try removing seemingly healthy foods or food groups, like breads, grains, pastas, and cereals, or dairy products like cheese and milk, or meats that are high in fat. In general, stick to lean meats like fish, turkey, chicken, and lean cuts of beef. Consume mostly vegetables, plenty of fruit, low or nonfat dairy, grains that are whole, not processed and are high in protein, and good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) found in nuts and seeds, vegetable oils (olive, canola, soy, etc.), and avocado. Fish is also rich with good fat. Also, drink water! Hydration is so important before, during, and after training. Your body will not function properly if it is dehydrated and this could lead to injury and feelings of sickness. Help yourself achieve your fitness and health goals by giving your body what it needs to physically perform what you demand of it.
This is an area that few people think about as important to their fitness success. Recovery is just as important as the training itself – Possibly more important.
The human body is quite an amazing machine. Your body is always trying to achieve a state of homeostasis (physical equilibrium). Your system will adapt to the stress or lack of stress placed on it. It is important to remember that your body grows stronger in the hours/days following the stress that has been placed on it not during the stress of training. If you are pushing your body to do things it is not used to doing, you must also nurture it so that it can physically adapt. Without recovery you are at greater risk for injury. An injury can seriously inhibit you from achieving your fitness goals. You can challenge and nurture your body at the same time.
Components crucial to recovery include:
- Sleep– Many systemic functions work hardest while you sleep. 8 hours is best for peak physical performance as well as overall health.
- Stretch– Keeping your muscles and joints flexible will help in preventing injuries. Stretch every day, even if it is a recovery day.
- Water– The human body is approximately 70% water. You must constantly supply your body with water to keep all of its functions running smoothly. The general rule is to take your body weight and divide it by 2 and that is how many ounces you should aim to drink a day.
- Diet– As discussed before, giving your body what it needs and nothing more is critical to your physical health. Lack of proper nutrients can prevent your body from performing physical demands it would otherwise be capable of. To function at its best, your body needs a well-balanced diet. Unhealthy eating can lead to fatigue, inability to lose weight, weight gain, reduced motivation, pain, chronic diseases, issues with sleep, and more.
Keys to Maintaining Motivation
- Set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time oriented (SMART) goals
- Get your fitness tested
- Keep a daily exercise diary
- Workout with a friend or group
- Pace yourself
- Train for a specific event or reason
- Educate yourself about health in relation to fitness
- Keep a food and diet journal