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Is there a best time of day to exercise?

When should I exercise? This is a question on a lot of people’s minds today. Our schedules are crammed and packed full from daylight to dark it seems and it can be difficult to get a good workout in on some days. And we certainly want to schedule our workouts at a time that is manageable and doable, so does it really matter if it is in the morning, evening or anytime in between? It is likely that if you search hard enough and deep enough you can find an expert that will tell you that you should exercise first thing in the morning. But you will also find experts that tell you it’s best to exercise in the evening before bed. There have not been any conclusive results that state one is absolutely better than the other especially as far as calories burned. Whether you choose to work out in the mornings or evenings is likely dependent on your schedule and how your body feels. While one time is not definitely better than the other, each can offer some unique benefits.

Man Working Out

Benefits of Working Out in the Mornings

There are some studies that indicate exercising in the morning is a good time to get the body revved up for the day. Most people who exercise first thing in the morning realize more sustained energy throughout the day.  For those who like to work out before they eat breakfast, there are some reports that indicate the possibility of the body burning more fat from a fasting state.  If you choose to exercise in the mornings, then you do not have to try to work it in for the rest of the day. Some experts have discovered that those who exercise early in the mornings tend to sleep better at night. Upon waking in the morning the liver has emptied itself of its stored carbohydrates. This means it is really good to do some cardio early on to help the body burn up fat.

 

Benefits of Working Out in the Evenings

One of the biggest noted benefits to working out in the afternoon or evening is that the body’s temperature is higher. This helps prevent injuries that are more likely to occur during morning workouts.  This basically means that you can get a harder workout in during afternoons or evenings. Doing workouts that are more difficult can help you reach goals like increasing your cardiovascular capacity or improve your overall sports performance.  Your body also has an increased capacity for synthesizing proteins later in the day. This means that later in the day, the body can better use dietary proteins to repair muscles. To achieve a maximized recovery you want to plan your more difficult workouts between 5 and 7 in the evenings.

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The Time-of-Day Solution

Based on the varied information about what time of day is best to work out, it seems that it’s just best to do it. If the only time you have is before work in the morning, do it then. If your schedule is not conducive to an early morning workout, but it works better for you to work out in the evenings then go for it. If the schedule allows, you might try to alternate between working out in the mornings and the evenings. There are benefits associated with morning workouts and evening workouts so either of them is acceptable. The basic rule of thumb is to just keep moving – workout as often as you can whenever you can. Your body will thank you later.

 

 

Which is Better: Traditional Workouts or Muscle Confusion Workouts?

There’s been quite a bit of discussion about muscle confusion of late, but it’s not really a new concept. The idea of muscle confusion has been around since the early ‘80s. Some have criticized the concept of muscle confusion and held to traditional workouts. Some people have labeled it as silly or a myth. But too many people have found good success using the principles behind muscle confusion and this adds to its legitimacy. There can be physical benefits from both traditional workouts and those which incorporate muscle confusion.

Man Flexing Biceps

What is Muscle Confusion?

Muscle confusion is a concept that is constructed on the idea that a person can get more consistent results by changing up the target muscles in a workout regimen. In its basic state the idea is to change up workout routines by changing the weight, movements, reps or intensity in order to cause the muscles some “confusion.” The premise is that if a person does the same exercises over and over, the body gets used to it and a weight loss or strength building routine can reach a plateau. By constantly changing up the stress, the body will gain new muscle growth and yield greater strength. Many people choose to focus on a specific muscle group when they strength train. For instance, Monday might be back and core day; but Wednesday might be leg day or arm day. That day’s exercises will use a variety of strategies which all work a particular muscle group or part of the body.

 

What About Traditional Workouts?

Traditional workouts are much more like a routine. An individual follows a workout program and does the same exercises or group of exercises for every workout session. On leg day, the exerciser may do squats, leg lifts and calf raises; then on arm day he may do dumbbell curls and then triceps dips. The same exercises are used each time but weights or reps may be increased each time. The premise behind traditional workouts is that the muscles will gradually and continually grow larger and stronger over time.

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Benefits of Muscle Confusion Workouts

By altering exercises muscle growth can be improved because the exerciser will recruit muscles that are not used frequently. This can help a lot of people get over or avoid plateaus and have positive improvements. One of the biggest benefits of this type of exercise routine is that it is less likely that the individual will become bored with the routine since it changes all the time. This can often be a very big motivating factor and help some stay on track moving toward their fitness goals.

 

Benefits of Traditional Workouts

Traditional workouts have been practiced for a very long time and have been shown to work. Many athletes rely on maintaining a fixed exercise regimen. Olympic lifters, professional body builders and other musclemen keep up a predetermined routine and stick with it while progressively continuing to add weights. Traditional workouts are the safe option and are more suitable for beginners since it can reduce injuries and offers novices the opportunity of learning proper form.

 

 

Which offers the better Workout: Barbells or Dumbbells?

Choosing what type of equipment to use for a workout can be a very confusing situation. When you invest your time in a workout you want to get the greatest benefit and you certainly do not want to waste your time. There are lots of different types of equipment including barbells and dumbbells. Which do you choose? Actually comparing these two types of weightlifting equipment is a little like comparing apples and oranges – they are both really good for you; but they offer different benefits. The choice will be somewhat easier if you know what your own personal workout goals are. By listing the benefits of barbells and of dumbbells, you can compare each set with your own personal goals to determine which form of exercise is going to help you achieve your personal goals.

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Benefits of Barbells

Barbells are great for working out the legs. Dumbbells can become too cumbersome to hold while doing exercises like squats or deadlifts but barbells allow the weight to be evenly distributed so that you can actually lift more weight safely and comfortably. For various pressing exercises such as an incline press, bench press or overhead shoulder press the barbell is much easier to handle, especially as you increase the weight used for the exercises. This basically means that making progress with barbells is much easier than it is with dumbbells. When you are ready to increase weight on barbell exercises, you can increase in 5 pound increments which is a gradual increase. Dumbbells increase by 5 pound increments also – but this means that you are actually increasing by 10 pounds altogether. Barbells allow for the addition of more weights in progression and this facilitates in building muscle mass. However, once you get past a certain point you’ll have to have someone spot for you.

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Benefits of Dumbbells

Dumbbells have to be held in each hand and then the weight has to be stabilized. This is a very good thing for a beginner since it helps to improve coordination and activates lots more of the muscle fibers. The design of dumbbells allow for more natural range of motion and it is easier to make minor adjustments in your moves. For instance, if you are doing a bench press and using dumbbells it only takes a minor shift of the wrists to remove the pressure off the rear deltoid. You will never need anyone to spot for you if you use dumbbells and at any point if you get into a bind you can simply drop them to the floor. Dumbbells are also a better choice for those times when you want to focus on a particular muscle group and increase strength in the muscular region. It’s much easier to isolate a particular muscle group to work on when using dumbbells.

 

Why not use some of both?

Both the barbell and dumbbells have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages and in many cases an individual just simply prefers one method over the other. In general, they are both going to be equally effective even though there are some specific instances where one of them is slightly more beneficial than the other. It is possible to just use a good mix of both dumbbell and barbell exercises. Since they both have their drawbacks and positives by favoring one of these methods over the other all of the time, you will actually miss out on the benefits that the other one has to offer. Alternating between them can ensure that you have the “best of both worlds.” Barbell exercises can be used for the primary compound movements and then dumbbell exercises can be used for secondary compound movements or exercises for specific muscle groups. Remember that variation is one of the primary keys to successful results from working out; by using both of them in your exercise regimen you ensure you have well rounded workouts and results.

Boost your strength-training workouts by becoming more mindful about your breathing technique.

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When it comes to proper breathing technique on the treadmill or during your outdoor run, “the main thing is to find a rhythmic breathing pattern that works for you,” says Flagstaff, Arizona-based running coach Greg McMillan. Follow his tips for a better cardio workout.

1. Keep it steady
A good approach is the 2:2 method, McMillan says, which means breathing in for two steps and out for two steps. That works well for running (or doing something like the elliptical machine) at a moderate pace.

2. Increase for interval training
For a faster pace (such as during an interval), you’ll need to increase the frequency to something like a 1:1, he says. Your breathing may be shallower (you don’t have time to take deep breaths) but it can still be efficient.

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3. Exhale excess CO2
If it feels like you can’t catch your breath, it means you are building up too much carbon dioxide, and need to focus on blowing it off, he says. Your instinct may be to keep taking deep breaths IN, but you’ll get rid of the CO2 more efficiently (and be able to catch your breath) if you focus on blowing the air OUT.

4. Listen to your lungs
Tune in to your breath to gauge your workout intensity. If you’re really struggling to catch your breath, chances are that you should go slower instead of increasing the intensity. Stay mindful to the signs your body is sending you.