Ho Ho Ho-ly Moly we are fast approaching the new year and many of us are thinking about making some New Year's resolutions. Some of these resolutions may include something to do with your health and fitness. Over the last few weeks, we have discussed some of the most asked about topics regarding nutrition. Since nutrition is only one of the three areas (remember, Nutrition-Cardio-Strength Training) of a good fitness plan, let’s touch base on cardio and strength training.
Cardio is mainly thought of as a way to raise your heart rate and burn fat. They are probably the most used pieces of equipment in our facilities and, if used properly, can be very beneficial. You have many options to choose from such as: treadmills, ellipticals, ARC trainers, stair mill (endless stairs), recumbent bikes, sit up bikes, and upper body ergometer (bike for arms).
Cardio can burn calories, no disagreement here, but here are a few things you might not know about cardio:
- Calories are only burned while doing the movements.
- You can shorten your time on cardio by working harder and still burn more calories in a shorter period of time.
- Cardio is most beneficial to burn additional calories when used after your strength training session.
Unfortunately, you can “cheat” while doing cardio and not even know it. Take the treadmill for instance. As you incline the deck most people make the mistake of holding on to the front handle and leaning back as they walk. If you ever do this, try something for me instead. Raise the incline and lean forward to force your body to do the work as in walking up a hill. I guarantee you will find you will get a better workout and engage more leg and core muscles.
One type of cardio that has really been making headlines in the fitness world is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT is one way of utilizing any piece of cardio equipment or workout to maximize calorie burn, shorten your workout, and maximize cardiovascular muscles and endurance. I know I know what exactly is HIIT? Don’t let the name scare you away from trying this technique. HIIT, essentially, is this: short, intense, unsustainable bursts of physical activity, paired with intervals of quick rests. Your end goal is a period of 20 seconds of all-out explosive work with a 10 second period of rest, then repeat for an allotted period of time--normally 20 minutes. Remember we need to start slowly and work on our fitness programs.
When I was first playing with this idea, I used an elliptical with movable arms for my cardio choice. In the beginning, 20 seconds of a high degree resistance made me take 45-60 seconds of rest before I was able to repeat. After about 5 cycles in, my rest time actually had to increase so I didn’t feel like I was going to die. This is not to discourage you but hopefully will help you realize that you may need to work up to it. As the weeks went by, my rest time decreased.
While it’s fairly easy to hop on a piece of cardio equipment and get yourself started, strength training is probably the most intimidating aspect to a fitness center and the biggest reason people are hesitant to join. Some of the benefits of doing strength training include:
- Strength training will build muscle and burn calories for up to 24 hours as your body works to repair and rebuild muscles.
- As we get older it becomes more important to lift heavier weight to strengthen our tendons and help promote bone density.
- It will help keep us active in our daily routine.
To maximize strength training, it is important to have consistency. It’s like most other physical activities, and you will feel the soreness in the muscles when you first start, muscles you didn’t even realize you had. This is why we encourage everyone to start slowly and allow your body time to get used to the new movements. Consistency will help stave off repeated soreness, allow muscles to get stronger, and allow you to vary your workouts as your muscles develop.
To start a new workout routine, be it cardio or strength training, you can hire a personal trainer to get you started on the proper equipment usage, or do some research via internet or magazines. (Tread with caution and make sure it is an appropriate routine for your fitness level and goals).
Don’t let the fear of something new stop you from working on you!
This weeks challenge:
Drop me a question that we may be able to try to answer for you regarding fitness or nutrition. I would like to be able to answer some questions that may be on many others’ minds.
About Matt Dryden: Matt has been offering personal training services in fitness and nutrition for over 12 years. He began his interest in Health and Fitness while working as a Correctional Officer and Police Chief when he realized that in this profession that those men and women should have the fitness level of being able to protect and serve the people he has sworn to do so. Matt went on to become a certified personal trainer and began educating and helping fellow officers in setting and working toward their goals in fitness.
Matt started his gym, The Body Shop Fitness Centers, in Shell Lake in 2007 and now offers locations in Shell Lake, Spooner, and Trego, Wisconsin. These locations offer a wide variety of fitness training opportunities unique to each location. To find out more, visit The Body Shop Fitness Center website or Facebook page.