Once you get into the groove of a solid workout program, it can be difficult to take a day off. One common reason that individuals fail to take rest days is that they fear they will lose all the progress that they have made and that somehow the fitness level they’ve achieved will be diminished. Actually, the opposite is true. It can be detrimental for your body and overall fitness to fail to take regular rest days. There are several reasons why it is important for rest days to be part of your training routine.
Your Muscles Benefit When You Rest
Lifting weights in particular can create very small tears in muscles. These micro-tears only heal through one process: resting. When you take a day off from working out it allows the muscles to make the necessary repairs and then the muscles are stronger than before. It is just as important to give your muscles time to recover as it is to work them hard.
Overtraining can Result in Plateaus
It is a well established fact that working out frequently can help an individual lose weight. However, many people do not realize that working out too much can actually have a negative effect in your weight loss efforts. Your body has a special built-in protective instinct and when you over train, it kicks in and tries to preserve your energy. This can cause your weight loss efforts to plateau. In some cases, the body goes into survival mode and it can even cause you to gain weight back. Ensure that your body can adjust properly to the rigors of training by giving it regular rest days.
Exhaustion Sets In
One reason people love to workout is that great burst of energy that comes just after a good workout. However, more exercise does not guarantee more energy. For those who do too much, workouts can cause a serious energy crash later in the day. If you realize that after your workouts you crash and feel like you can barely move then you are likely doing way too much. When you are so sore you don’t want to carry out normal daily functions you have probably pushed it too far and need a day or two to rest and recover. Too much training has the adverse effect of sapping you of your strength and energy.
How many rest days do I need?
The number of rest days that are beneficial will depend on where you are in your training program as well as your fitness level. In most cases, you will need at least one rest day per week. For those who are just starting out you probably need to take a day every 3rd or 4th day to do absolutely nothing and let your body recover. For those who are used to working out daily one day a week may be sufficient. Another alternative is to rest different parts of the body on different days. For instance, you may work on cardio Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and do strength training on Tuesday and Thursday. By mixing up your workouts you are allowing different muscle groups the chance to rest in between workouts.
What can I do on a rest day?
Taking a rest day does not mean that you have to lie on the couch all day long and do nothing. Rest and recovery can take different forms for different people. Active athletes like runners just need to do something different on rest days to rest the muscles they use most. Walking or taking a nature hike is a great way to let the muscles recover. Some may even be able to swim or ride bikes on rest days. Simple stretching exercises like Yoga are great for helping to rebuild the muscles on days off. It’s just important to give the body a chance to rest and recover by offering it the opportunity to do lighter, simpler activities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Opinions on this topic are varied and across the board. There are many leading authorities who suggest that not eating before a workout is ideal; and there are just as many other leading authorities who suggest that it is best to eat properly prior to working out. The one thing most agree on is that you must consume adequate nutrients after a workout is complete in order to replenish the body. Ultimately – it’s really up to the individual to determine what works best for them. Here are some of the leading thoughts on this topic.
Arguments for not Eating Before a Workout
Some argue that by not eating prior to a workout the body will be forced to burn more fat. The thought is that if the body has no fuel to consume, it will turn to burning away fat in exchange for energy. Some studies have indicated that by eating, especially carbs, before a workout it will cause the body to reduce the amount of fat that is burned. For many, this works since they are likely to see faster positive results. After you have “fasted” overnight particularly, the body’s supply of insulin is low and the adrenaline is high. This ratio can make the job of breaking down more fatty acids much more efficient.
Arguments for Eating Before a Workout
Even though there can be some benefit from working out especially early in the morning prior to eating, there are also a lot of reasons for eating before you workout especially if you are going to participate in a super intensive workout including cardio or heavy weight lifting. When you eat, the body breaks down the ingested food and turns it into glucose. This becomes a form of stored energy that is called glycogen. Glycogen is stored in the liver and the muscles. In order to have enough energy for a workout session the body also has to have enough glucose that is readily available. Eating before a workout can help prevent the body’s glucose level from dropping. If you frequently feel weak during a workout or feel weakness so that you are not sure if you can continue, it is likely that you are either not eating enough or eating incorrectly before a workout session.
Arguments for Eating After a Workout
One thing is for sure, and that is that your body needs sustenance following a workout. Most agree that you should eat within half an hour after you’ve finished the workout and whether it is a snack or a meal it should contain easily digested proteins. About 15 to 25 minutes after an intense workout the blood sugar levels can drop. This can cause nausea, lightheadedness, faintness or dizziness. Some research indicates that .3 to .6 grams of carbs per pound of body weight should be consumed within 2 hours of endurance workouts. This is important for building up the glycogen stores for future training. If you wait more than 2 hours your body may store only about 50 percent less glycogen. Using up carbs by working out stimulates the body to produce more insulin which helps the muscles create more glycogen. It is very important to eat after a workout in order to replenish the body.
Listen to Your Body!
Ultimately you will be the one to decide which method works best for you. If you find that you lose steam or have very little energy if you do not eat before a workout, then allow time to eat prior to working out. Just remember that you need carbs and protein primarily before a workout, and less fat and fiber. You’ll want to give your body time to digest the food before starting an intense workout or you’ll risk digestive problems that can be very disruptive to your routine.
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.
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.
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.
Whether you are just starting out on a fitness program or have been at it a long time, keeping a log of your exercises can be very motivating. The workout journal can be as complicated or as simple as you want it to be. Some include their workout routines, meals and calorie count, or even their feelings about how their workout went that day. But many don’t realize how truly motivating it can be to keep a workout journal on a regular basis. It can be the perfect place to record both your fitness goals and your workouts. There are several ways that keeping a log can provide lots of motivation to keep on working.
Realistic Picture of Workouts
Keeping a log of your exercise patterns can not only keep you honest, it can also help you understand what types of workouts you are doing most often. Especially over time it can give you a very realistic picture of your workout patterns. This can be beneficial in helping you see what areas you may be lacking in and helps you determine what you are covering well. By keeping a good record of your workouts and routines, you can see more clearly what you are achieving during your workouts and when you see that more accurately, not only will it motivate you to continue, it can help you determine upcoming goals.
Reminds You of Your Goals
It is very important to set fitness goals and as you achieve them to set new ones. How will you know where you are going if you do not set realistic goals? By keeping a journal of your workouts you will be better able to gauge your fitness level and maintain an even keel. You will be able to see how quickly you can achieve the progress you desire and a fitness journal helps give you the feedback you need to set and achieve your goals. There is not any better motivation than seeing all you have accomplished and how you were able to reach your goals. It can also be very beneficial for helping you know when to change your workout and set new goals so that you continue to move forward and progress.
Tool for Evaluating Progress
A workout journal helps you know where you are and how you are progressing in your fitness routine. You can look back over time and see all that you have accomplished. Trying to proceed without writing down your goals and progress is like walking around in the dark. You will know exactly how long you have been working at a particular level or if it is time to step it up in order to be successful. In order to see the desired changes in your body, you will want to increase your workload, weights, or stamina as you go along. You can check the workout journal to see just how long it took you to accomplish each goal and when it is time to step it up to the next level. Seeing where you came from and all you have done can be very motivating on your journey to fitness.
Eating the right kinds of pre-workout snacks before getting your workout in is very beneficial for several reasons. The three most prominent reasons include preventing hunger, maintain energy levels and boosting your stamina. No one likes that energy-less feeling that hits mid workout when you have not provided the body with enough nourishment. There’s nothing like hitting that wall. In order to ensure that you do not run out of steam in the middle of a solid workout and that you have the stamina to continue it is important to provide the body with a well balanced snack before the workout begins.
When to eat before a Workout
It is important to eat about an hour or two prior to beginning a workout session. Remember to eat smaller quantities so that the body can digest all that fuel before you get started. Eating too much before working out can give you a general uncomfortable feeling of fullness and even make you sick to your stomach. You want to eat light foods that are easily digestible; but nutrient rich in order adequately fuel your workout.
What not to Eat
There are some types of foods that you should avoid prior to working out. Remember that you are attempting to provide your body with enough nutrients to sustain you during a workout. Avoid foods that you know cause GI or digestive issues; and avoid trying something new just before a workout since they might cause GI issues. Fatty foods are digested slowly and can hang around in the stomach and digestive tract too long so they should be avoided. Eating sugary foods or refined carbs can cause your blood sugar levels to drop during a workout and can harm your overall performance by making you feel sluggish. Also avoid foods that are super high in fiber just before a workout or you may end up spending your time in the restroom instead of working out. If you have an off day, or a horrible training day take note of what was eaten just before your workout and it might give you a clue as to what types of foods or snacks to avoid.
How to know what pre-workout Snacks are Right
It can be relatively tricky finding the right snacks or the ones that are most effective. It’s good to consume some carbs that are slow burning, and at least some protein. Bananas are easily digested and are full of beneficial nutrients. Add a little peanut butter to sliced bananas and you’ve got a great snack. A lot of people prefer light smoothies before they workout. Usually a smoothie contains fruit like a banana or berries, maybe some protein powder or nuts and a small amount of yogurt. This is a nutritionally balanced snack that should provide plenty of energy and stamina.
Remember to keep it light too. Maybe a small fruit salad with some chia seeds or just a hand full of dried fruits and nuts is all you need. Try a whole grain English muffin with almond butter, or a hardboiled egg and some whole grain crackers. If you want a hot snack some oatmeal with sliced almonds and bananas offers carbs, nutrients and protein for your workout. The main thing to remember when choosing pre-workout snacks is to include protein and carbs. Nuts, fruit, whole grains and protein snacks can provide just what is needed to keep your energy up through each workout.
There are three basic building blocks that are used to create any useful fitness regimen: strength conditioning, aerobic (cardiovascular) exercise and nutrition. Trying to find the proper balance of these three can be very difficult if you are not given some help along the way. In order to build a strong and solid foundation it is essential to have a plan. It is much more likely that you will be able to be consistent in your fitness goals if you have a well defined plan. There can also be plenty of benefits that come from following a well structured workout program.
Keep Good Track of Your Progress
One of the basic steps needed to create a successful workout plan is to establish some long term goals. These can then be broken down into smaller short term goals that are achievable. This allows you to feel a measure of success each time you accomplish a goal and keeps you on track to obtaining your larger long term goals. You can look at your accomplishments as mileposts along the way to success. When you use our customized workout tracker you can monitor your own progress. Watching your own progress unfold can be very encouraging and helpful to keep you focused and on track. In no time you will begin to see the changes manifest in your body. But unless you record and keep track of your progress you will have no idea of what you are achieving.
Cover All the Essentials
If you go to the gym week after week without having any specific goals you are not going to get a well rounded workout and unfortunately you will not achieve the results you should. Whether you workout at home or a facility if you do not have a plan you can wander around for an hour doing just the types of exercises you like or avoiding the more difficult ones and miss key areas that need to be strengthened for your overall fitness. By following our comprehensive workout plan you will be able to cover all the necessary workout components necessary to work every part of the body. It is far too easy to miss key areas that need to be toned or strengthened when you do not have a comprehensive workout plan to follow. Our well structured workout program ensures that you know exactly what to do when your workout time begins. This is far more effective than playing the guessing game and taking the chance you will miss an important factor that affects your overall fitness and health.
Create Lifelong Habits
By following a well structured program you will be able to achieve your fitness goals and maintain them. After you follow an exercise program for a few weeks it will naturally become part of your daily routine and will become more like a habit. By following a workout program you can avoid the pitfall of procrastination and will not be as tempted to say, “I’ll wait until tomorrow.” After you apply the workout program to your life and make it your practice you will see that you have a set of simple and achievable steps to follow in order to succeed at your fitness goals. Creating a habit of good exercise will be beneficial to your body for many years to come.
The Paleo Diet is one of the latest eating plans to emerge. It’s not really all that new, but it has just recently become wide spread. In a nutshell, the Paleo Diet is basically consuming whole and natural foods which are as close to a primal diet as one can get. Foods are eaten in as natural of a state as possible and this in effect eliminates processed foods containing preservatives, sodium, additives, various sugars and whole world of unhealthy ingredients including toxins. Foods that are consumed provide substantially more nutrients than processed or pre-packaged foods and as you can imagine there are many benefits for those who observe a Paleo Diet.
Weight Loss for the Long Term
The Paleo Diet offers more than just an intense exercise routine and eating barely enough food go get by. In most cases, people will experience weight loss as well as muscle growth while consuming the Paleo Diet and maintaining an active lifestyle. There are several factors that contribute to this sustained weight loss attributed to the healthy eating plan. By eating naturally wholesome foods, the body’s metabolic process is greatly improved this means better sleep, improved gut health, plenty of vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids which are all beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight.
Consumption of Nutrient Rich Foods
Many have the misconception that the Paleo Diet is about just concerned with protein and fat. But in actuality, when processed carbs are eliminated and replaced with healthy fats, seeds, nuts, fruit, vegetables and berries you are offering your body a ton of minerals and vitamins. These nutrients not only work together for improving gut health, but they also increase the amount of nutrients your body absorbs.
Reduction in Bloating
The food consumed on the Paleo Diet contains high amounts of fiber which when eaten along with adequate amounts of water can also help decrease bloating. The eating program is designed to improve the gut flora which is a key part in maintaining a healthy digestive system.
Fats come from healthy sources such as grass fed meats, seafood, butter, ghee, and coconuts. Olive oil, seeds and nuts also provide small amounts of polyunsaturated fats, and healthy ratios of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids. They also contain no Trans fats. These foods have all the right kinds of fats that help the body maintain healthy arteries, skin and brain function as well as working to decrease inflammation and allergies.
Many people do not understand that the foods we consume can have a positive or negative effect on our moods and disposition. This is attributed to changes in sugar levels in many cases. The Primal/Paleo diet can help individuals have more mental clarity as well as improved moods and attitudes. Many who have suffered with anxiety or depression have also found that their mental state is greatly improved by following this healthy diet option.
Reduced Risk of Disease
By eating wholesome, nutrient rich foods without all the fillers and additives, the body is in a much better state. Not only does the immune system function more efficiently, but the body tends to make less insulin and is more tolerant of glucose. Following the Paleo diet plan can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Can I turn my resolution into a habit?
There have been many studies about what type of effort it takes to develop a habit. Most experts agree that if a person repeats the same action or behavior for 66 days in a row, it will become habitual. However, most are likely to agree that it is rare for a New Year’s resolution to last anywhere close to that number of days. Most of the time, we really do want to change and we look and a New Year offers us a great place to restart. The trouble is that many of us make outlandish resolutions that cannot possibly be long lasting. We meant them when we made them, but after a few days we return to our old ways; our old habits. With some careful planning you can make a resolution that will stick long enough to become a habit and we want to provide you with a few tips to get you started.
Set Realistic Goals
One of the problems with making a resolution is that we are not realistic about our expectations. We end up working out for a day or two but we fail to continue to work it into our rigorous schedules. Just like Yoyo dieting we see a little bit of immediate progress but cannot stick with it so it is soon lost. It is very important to set fitness goals, but it has to be reasonable. Make sure your goals are reachable or you’ll give up before you get a chance to make lasting changes. If your goal is unrealistic or seems too far out of reach, you will not be motivated to continue a fitness program.
Prioritize Your Workouts
Your fitness is essential to your overall health and well being. Think of it like your investment in yourself and schedule yourself an appointment every day. Your workout schedule needs to be written on your calendar right there with other appointments of importance like meeting with your child’s teacher, looking at a house with a real estate agent and finishing a large project for your boss. You are important too and in order to perform your best on your job and in other facets of your life you need to feel your best. Record your workout schedule on the same calendar as all your other important engagements and then keep them. You’ll thank yourself later.
It is a great motivator to see how far you have come. It is certain that you will not lose excess weight overnight or build huge muscle mass in a day; but over time you will begin to notice marked changes. Although it is important to record changes in weight and measurements, you should also keep a record of your workouts. When you see how many miles you have run, the number of workouts completed or how many lifts you’ve completed it will help you realize your success. When you recognize these types of gains it will help motivate you to continue progressing toward your ultimate goals.
Commit to a Month at a Time
Thinking about a year’s worth of workouts can be overwhelming especially for someone who is not accustomed to it. Keep your commitment manageable by only committing to your workout schedule for one month. At the end of the month commit for another. By the time you reach the end of the first month you will be able to see some of the changes that have come about from being active. You will also have begun to create the habit of working out and it will be easier to commit to one more month. Before you know it, you’ll have committed an entire year away. You will have reached your fitness goals and will be ready to make new ones for another new year.