Thursday, May 30, 2013

Workout Ingredients

I was as the gym with my wife the other day and I noticed that she had this weird look on her face.  It was somewhere in between constipation and annoyance so I asked her, " What's going on?  Do you feel OK?"  Her sharp reply was, "I'm hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable." To which quickly countered, "Those are the perfect ingredients to a good workout."  She was not amused and I got the look.

This look = Danger!

  But that did get me thinking that those really are key components to an effective workout.  Many times people will describe a workout with the specific exercises to do, pieces of equipment to use, number of sets and rep, etc.  But all of those things won't really add up to results if you are not using the proper intensity.  Intensity is a key factor, maybe the most important factor, when it comes to improving performance or changing your body.  That being said, intensity is a hard thing to quantify and prescribe.  I can tell you to go run a mile, but it is up to you to decide how fast you run and how hard you push yourself.
That is where the key ingredients come into play.  I call them the workout TRIFECTA.  To gauge whether you are working out at the right intensity, simply ask yourself these three questions.  Am I hot?  Am I sweaty? Am I uncomfortable?

I will admit that the first two questions are related.  Usually if you are hot then you are sweaty, but give me a break I am going by my original premise.  Either way, if you are hot and sweaty then that is your body telling you that you have increased your resting metabolism and you are now expending energy. Congratulations!  If you are not hot, or sweaty, then that is probably your body telling you that it is still maintaining homeostasis and figures you are just sitting on your couch in a wife beater.

The other question is the money maker.  Are you uncomfortable?  This is the one that people hate the most yet yields the best results.  It refers to what is known as the overload principle.  It states, simply, that to increase a specific facet of fitness you must progressively increase the amount of stress that you apply through exercise.  If you are a runner then you must run further or faster to increase your performance.  If you want to get stronger you have to lift heavier weights or increase the number of repetitions that you perform.  You have to expose your body to a stress that it is not used to.  This is where it gets uncomfortable.  That level of discomfort is your body's way of telling you that you are in that "sweet spot" of overloading your system.  Now you don't have to push yourself so hard that you cough up a lung or toss your cookies, but you should feel a significant level of fatigue and discomfort.

                 Good                                                                               Bad

So those are the factors that should be present in a good workout.  Now let's take a look at some things that will destroy workout intensity, impede progress, and turn you into what is now termed a "GloboGym-er" ( Not a good thing!).

You should not be texting and playing with your phone during your workout.  I know for some people having your phone at all times is a complete necessity, but for 90% of people I think an hour away from the phone will be Ok.  If you are using your phone for music I guess that is acceptable.  But do not check your email, respond to texts, or change your status to, "Currently getting my sweat on." (Trust me, no one cares.)

Next, do not read magazines or books while working out.  If you have enough control to accurately turn a page without ripping it, or you are not sweating all over the pages, then you are not working hard enough.  Reading just distracts you from the task at hand and turns you into a mindless drone, slugging along at a slow pace.  That burns very little calories and wastes lots of time. 

Don't be this guy.

Finally, don't waste time socializing.  I see people at the gym doing this all the time.  I will do an entire workout while some guy does two machines in the same amount of time because he has been shooting the breeze for half an hour.  Since one of the biggest excuses people have for not exercising is lack of time, don't waste it.  Get in the gym, do what you need to and get out.  I am not saying that you can't, or shouldn't, talk to people but don't linger when you have a task to complete.  That task being getting results and accomplishing your goals.

" Hey Karen, do you like my new tank top?  It's really breathable and almost shows my nipples.  I think I will wear it on bench press day so everyone can see my bulging pecs.  Do you like pecs?  Let me tell you about my pecs..."

  So there you have it.  Look for these things within your own workout to help gauge if you are working hard enough.  Exercise is great in that you get out of it what you put in.  So work hard, have fun, and stay healthy. Until next time.

  Stay Fit,
     Amerson Fitness