Saturday, January 2, 2010

Working out in 2010 – 10 Commandments (Part 1)

Hi Kids!  As promised, hubby is back with a guest post on his philosophy on fitness.  Hubby is a gym stud and I love to learn from him and be motivated by him.  He is kinda like my own Jillian Michaels, but yells less and is a little less intimidating.  We obviously have different fitness goals, but I love hearing his perspectives.  Hope you enjoy this post!


Happy New Year Everyone! Given that many people have a New Year’s resolution to spend more time at the gym, while others (such as most of the already healthy readers of this blog) undoubtedly commit to continue working out, I thought it would be appropriate to share my knowledge.  The key to effective workouts is identifying specific fitness goals, such as weight loss, cardiovascular advancement, or muscle gain (my personal goal).  Of course, strategies vary widely depending on individual goals and could never be adequately addressed in just one post.  However, some general principles are prevalent in all work outs regardless of fitness goals.  I would like to call them the 10 commandments that apply to most gym rats.  These principles have kept me going for nearly 10 years, though I have yet to cross the Red Sea or have any religious revelation related to them.  This post covers the first half of the 10 commandments (part 2 is to follow).  The first 5 commandments described below are broad, while the remaining strategies are more specific
  1. Lifestyle: many people think that the purchase of a gym membership is the key to getting in shape.  I think it’s only a start.  Exercising should be perceived as part of the broader dedication to a healthy lifestyle.  Any gym visit could be substituted for many other physical activities, such as swimming, hiking, or playing basketball.  BWE (best wife ever, otherwise known as Apple) and I try to walk everywhere and minimize the use of a car, especially on weekends.  We often walk to stores and restaurants, and even when we drive, we try to leave the car somewhere from where we can walk to multiple destinations.  Even gardening or cleaning the house are examples of activities that enable an active lifestyle (or at least this is what I tell myself when I need to motivate myself to clean up).
  2. Mental balance: while it is important to commit to routine workouts, obsession and laziness are two of the worst enemies.  Many people do not come to the gym often enough, but even more people spend too much time at the gym.   I find that at least 3 work outs a week are necessary for effective results, while some rest days are also necessary.  Personally, I like going to the gym 3.5 times a week (every other day), which gives muscles enough recovery time.  Not to say that you can’t do anything else between workouts (see commandment #1).  Since fitness is more of a lifestyle than just going to the gym, other activities could be performed on “off” days.  For example, BWE and I often go hiking or bicycling.  
  3. Physical balance: every workout routine should entail some ratio of cardiovascular and strength training, even for those with the most specific (and possibly one-sided) fitness goals.  The ratio will vary with individual fitness goals and objectives.  Generally, strength training, including lifting weights and machines, is more effective for people with a moderate or low body fat percentage, at least for cosmetic purposes.
  4. Motivation: time and effort investment into working out is only as useful as one’s ability to push himself or herself.  For example, in strength training, the benefit of squeezing the last one or two repetitions in a set attributes to roughly 80 percent of the benefit (although I am an economist, don’t hold me accountable for this calculation).  Therefore, it is extremely important to be able to push yourself in every workout.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons why people hire personal trainers.  As an economist, this idea seems irrational to me because we are paying someone to force us to realize health benefits (but not that there’s anything wrong with that).  I never had this problem myself, but for those that do, I would recommend working out with friends.  Not only are you likely to have more fun doing it, but you can also have them push you free of cost.  The motivation that has been effective for me is that if I set aside an hour or 90 minutes out of my day for the gym, I might as well try to maximize the results and not waste this time by not being the most productive.  It seems to have worked so far.  I also don’t compare myself to others at the gym, but rather compare my performance against myself over time.  We are all blessed with different genetics and physical abilities, and I suspect that the top 10 percent of best-looking bodies at the gym did not get there through hard work.  Unfortunately, there are many shortcuts, although they generally jeopardize long-term health for short-term results.
  5. Diet: “Healthy abs are born in the kitchen,” One Healthy Apple (sorry, I couldn’t not quote my wife).  I think she’s right.  A healthy diet is part of a healthy lifestyle and should supplement working out.  I consider it the easiest part of fitness since it does not require sweating or lifting heavy weights.  I usually have a smoothie after each workout with protein powder, yogurt, bananas, frozen fruit, and various juices.  Consuming protein within an hour after a workout yields the best results and is a good excuse to consume fruits in my diet.  Balanced meals with high nutritional value, protein, and vitamins are vital to any athlete (or an athlete wannabe).  I also try to eat more frequently and in smaller portions.
See you all for Part 2!

14 comments:

Ameena said...

This is a great reminder of the things that I should know but forgot about working out!

Kelly said...

Awesome post- I think sometimes I don't go into my workouts with the plan/goal you are talking about- I need to work on that!

Estela - Weekly Bte said...

Love this post! Having a plan/goal is always important!

Katie ♥ said...

Great post!!!! I like these Commandments, cant wait for Part Two!!! Missed you girl! Hope you had a Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! xoxo

Jessica @ How Sweet said...

This is awesome!!! Love it! :)

Gelareh @ Orange Truffle said...

Great post! Looking forward to reading part 2!

Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg said...

Great post! You're lucky to have your husband as such a source of inspiration for health and fitness! I think in our house, it's kind of the other way around :-) My hub loves eating healthy and working out, but if we weren't married, I think his lifestyle would be completely different from the healthy one we have now :-)

Abby (Abbys Vegan Eats) said...

AHH i totally love your new layout.. mmmm cupcakes!!

Great post, btw.. Happy New Year, dear! :)

Mari said...

This is a great post! I can't wait to read the other Five.

I have to try to focus on number 5 more often..and hey don't know Personal Trainers lol

Sana said...

Healthy diet and lifestyle totally go hand in hand :)

Gina said...

AMEN! I agree with all of these commandments. I think it's sort of comical (or sad?) when people brag about their gym membership, yet they never go...or when they do go, they just talk the whole time.

I also agree that it's important to push yourself that extra bit. I have read that when you lift weights, you should do one rep. passed the point when you think you can't do it anymore. I really try to do that.

And of course, I can't disagree with the diet piece!

Great post ;)

Total Fit Girl said...

Your tips are great, thanks!

Katie said...

Love this post! Very insightful and well thought out.

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I love this post!! I need to get back to working out more often in 2010!