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
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.