How to Achieve Better Results with Your Fitness Routine
Here you are, making long strides into 2020. Working out every day, eating healthier, getting enough sleep, but you’re noticing something is missing. You know that this whole fitness thing is a marathon, not a sprint, and that all good things take time, but you’re not exactly seeing the results you hoped for at this point in your journey. On the other hand, maybe you started seeing results right away and now you’ve hit a plateau. What do you do?
Don’t panic. This happens. Sometimes all you need is a small tweak in your routine, but other times it could take a little more than that. My goal is to give you the resources you need to help make these changes and get the results you’re seeking.
Heart Rate Monitoring Equipment
This is long, but it’s important. Grab your spectacles, a cup o’ joe, and read up buttercup. You may have heard of reaching specific “heart rate zones” while exercising. Each zone is a percentage of your max heart rate (the highest heart rate you may achieve) and affect the body in different ways. Your max heart rate (MHR) is determined by your age.
You can easily figure out your max heart rate with this equation → [220 - (your age) = MHR].
When exercising, you want to work in specific heart rate zones depending on your goals. The lower zones (indicated by smaller percentages of your MHR) signal that fat is being used as your primary energy source, while the higher zones (higher percentages) indicate carbohydrates are the primary source of energy. The middle zones are a mixture of both. Generally, your workouts will fall within the middle zones. Have I lost you yet?? Stay with me, this is crucial!
While the lower zones (50-70% of your MHR) burn mostly fat during exercise, they won’t do much for burning calories after you finish your workout. These zones are great for beginner exercisers, warm-ups, an active recovery day, and leisure activities (walking, light hiking, easy bike ride). You’ll know you’re working in the lower zones if the activity feels comfortable and you can easily hold a conversation with someone while you’re working out.
The middle zones (70-85% of your MHR) are where most of your workouts are or should fall. This heart rate zone utilizes a mixture of carbohydrates and fat for energy. The lower end of this range (70%) is generally sustainable for a long period of time. This would be the rate at which you are doing light jogging, cycling, or light to moderate weight lifting. The higher end (80-85%) is going to help you burn fat throughout the day.
That’s right, all day long.
This is the zone you’ll want to aim for when you’re doing interval training. During the workout, your body burns mostly carbohydrates, but after the workout it continues to burn more fat. Without getting into a crazy science-y explanation… basically your body needs more oxygen after working so hard and your metabolism skyrockets because your muscles need fuel. When your metabolism is high, you burn more calories when you’re not exercising… In other words, you become a fat burning machine! When exercise starts to get more uncomfortable and you’re only able to spout out a few words to your friend, you’ll know you’re working in this zone.
The highest zones (85-100% of your MHR) are the zones at which High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) takes place. When you’re working this hard, you can’t talk, can’t think, can’t do anything but FOCUS on your exercise. You won’t be able to sustain this long, nor would I want you to! These are quick bursts of activity that will help improve your cardiovascular and muscular endurance so that you’re able to sustain those middle zones for a longer period of time (remember those are the zones you’ll see the most benefit from!)
Hire a Personal Trainer
Some of us don’t know where to start with exercise or we’ve fallen into a rut doing the same things every day. There’s no shame in hiring a personal trainer for direction! Contrary to popular belief, personal trainers aren’t just there to yell at you to “drop and give me 20 burpees!” A good trainer listens to your goals and takes into account your current fitness level, your likes, and your dislikes. Sure, exercise isn’t necessarily going to be your favorite hobby, but personal trainers can teach you a thing or two about how to change up your workouts so they’re not only more effective, but fun as well.
Take a Group Fitness Class
Accountability… we talk about it all the time. Why? Because it’s important and it’s easy to lose if you’re trying this fitness journey on your own. Achieving better results comes down to one thing - consistency. If you’re not getting to the gym, eating right, and taking care of yourself regularly, you will never see the results you’re hoping for. Being a part of a group fitness class gives you the accountability in that someone else is waiting there for you. Not to mention, all of us have a tinge of competitiveness inside that comes out in group fitness classes. You see the person next to you giving 100%... then you’re going to give 110%. Meet some new friends and hold each other accountable. If you don’t show up for class, that person should be texting you right away seeing where you are and visa versa.
Set Goals & Stay on Top of Them
What are your health and fitness goals? This should be a question that you revisit often. If your ultimate goal is to live a healthy lifestyle, then making sure you’re getting to the gym for general exercise and eating a balanced diet are great ways to maintain that goal. However, if you have specific goals for weight loss, gaining muscle, or building strength, you must make sure you’re getting the proper training and nutrition to do so. While doing something is always better than doing nothing, fitness isn’t cut and dry. If you’re wondering whether or not your current routine is setting you up for success, *see point #2*. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re doing an exercise and it seems easy, bump up the intensity! Do this periodically and you’re making progress. It’s always a good idea to keep track of your progress to see how short term goals can make long term changes!
It’s normal to fall into a rut. Don’t get discouraged, At the end of the day, we’ve gotta get uncomfortable to see change, folks. If you’re stuck in the “comfort zone”, get out of it!