In Canada the winter months may seem ENDLESS, the layers of clothes are many and most people tend to go into some type of ‘hibernation mode’ (too much food, too little exercise). More often than not you might have experienced some weight gain. Or you could be in a building phase, which is typical during the winter months, and your intake has purposely been higher & workouts scaled back to allow for some gains/ growth. In either case you will have found yourself to be carrying a bit more cushion than you might like.
At the first sign of spring, the gyms seem to come alive with those looking to perfect their ‘summer body’. The average person will spend hours on end on their cardio machine of choice in hopes of shedding unwanted weight gain and/or reduce their food intake way too much. This will only work against your body by killing your metabolism resulting in little to no change at all.
Here are some tips to help rev up your metabolism so that you can shed those last stubborn pounds and reveal your summer physique.
Better Food Quality. Your meals should consist of nutrient dense, whole foods. Cut out sugar & high processed foods as these do nothing to promote optimal body composition and only put you at risk for metabolic diseases. Be sure to consume a lot of dark leafy vegetables (aim for 1-2 cups per meal), anti-oxidant rich fruits and beneficial fats.
Protein With Every Meal. High-quality, high-protein intake keep you feeling full longer. It also sustains lean mass which in turn increases your metabolic rate (more muscle mass= more calories burned at rest). This is very important if you are trying to lose body fat. Also, don’t make the mistake of cutting calories without increasing protein as this will cause you to lose muscle mass along with fat mass, lowering your metabolism. Include lean red meat, fish, eggs in your meals. A clean, low-carb protein powder can help supplement your diet.
Include 4-5 Days of Weight Training. In order to look lean & tight you need to increase your muscle mass and reduce body fat. To do this you need to make sure you are really stressing out your muscles. Repeated tension or load on the muscles will cause the muscle to adapt and grow over time. Most people don’t lift heavy enough, or they continuously lift for the same amount of high reps and only 3 sets per exercise. Proper stress will only occur if you vary your training; ex: High-volume training (high reps, mod weight), high-load training (4+ sets, 4-6 reps, 85-90% of 1RM), varied tempo. Also be sure to include big compound movements (squats, deadlifts, pulls, presses, chin-ups) as these are multi-joint exercises and recruit major muscles.
Sprints vs. Steady State Cardio. While distance running (steady state cardio) has its benefits (heart friendly), if you are looking to seriously burn off body fat, incorporate sprint training into your workout regime. The high intensity of sprint training causes the same metabolic stress on the body as weight training. Just take a look at a sprinter’s body vs a marathoner. Have you ever seen a sprinter who carries extra cushion on them? Nope, neither have I.
Reduce Stress. High levels of stress from work/ every day life will result in high levels of cortisol being released into the body. This will actually lead to an increase in fat mass especially around your mid-section. Take time to unwind & reduce your stress levels. Meditation, breathing exercises, yoga are just a few ways you can reduce stress levels.
Recovery. Give your body rest. All the hard work you put in the gym, although beneficial, is still a stress placed on your body. Too much of a good thing can ultimately lead to overuse injuries, fatigue and even weaken your immune system. Allow your body time to repair & rebuild, and always listen to your body.
Happy Training 🙂
You have an upcoming event and you want to look your best in that new dress.. or maybe you’ve booked a beach vacation and want to feel confident in your bathing suit. Whatever your reason may be, spending 30+ minutes on a boring treadmill (or any cardio machine) may not be the wisest choice.
For those who are familiar with it know that it’s alot more intense than an hour on the treadmill.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is when you alternate between high and low intensity exercise(s) or between high intensity exercise and a short period of rest.
For example, a short sprint up a hill followed by a walk back down is interval training. Or a set of burpees followed by bodyweight rows. Or squat jumps followed by pushups.
The reason why? The bursts of high intensity (such as 10-20 seconds of sprinting) create a metabolic demand in the body that is effective for long-term fat loss. HIIT and heavy weight training create a state of ‘stress’ in our bodies by reducing oxygen supply to tissues, increasing body temperature, reducing body fluids and fuel stores, and causing tissue damage. This chaos prompts the body to create endocrine and defense reactions in order to deal with the problem. Basically the body is forced to adapt.
Benefits of HIIT:
• strengthens the cardiovascular system
• improves carbohydrate & fat metabolism in skeletal muscle
• results in fat-loss without compromising lean muscle mass
• improves strength and power
You end up getting more ‘bang for your buck’, for example 5 minutes of HIIT = approximately 30-45 min of treadmill or elliptical.
If you would like to incorporate HIIT, ensure you do a proper Warm-up & cool-down.
Example of HIIT Workout:
▪2 min Warm-up skipping
》20 seconds fast skipping (high intensity)
》10 seconds slow skipping (low intensity/recovery)
▪ Repeat for 9 intervals (5min)
▪ 3 min cool-down
You can replace the skipping rope with incline intervals on a treadmill or even the row machine
Want to get fancy with your HIIT workouts? Try it with resistance exercises. You can try alternating burpees with pushups… jump squats with inverted rows.. the possibilities can be endless!
The Turkish Get-up
This has to be one of my favorite exercises right now. I had done it only a few times before.. But I can say I mastered it this past July when I took a kettlebell training course.
Apart from being one of the most functional exercises ( I would categorize it right along with dead lifts), it totally builds your confidence when you can handle a chunk of iron with grace.
I started off with 35pds, then one afternoon I decided to challenge myself & was able to handle a 50pd kettlebell with ease. (Mind you, I was only able to get in a couple reps on each side).
The awesome benefits of this exercise?
• Strengthens your shoulder girdle. In order to keep that kettlebell from falling into your face the scapula must keep retracted & as stable as possible. The continual motion of the exercise challenges the entire shoulder girdle in multiple planes to work constantly to stabilize the weight.
• Core. Trust me you will feel your core after doing a few of these. Your core works overtime to stabilize you as you go from the floor to standing. Try it & you will experience first hand.
• Strenth. The TGU is really like 5 exercises in one (in progression): Floor Press, Weighted Situp, Weighted Plank, Weighted Lunge/Split Squat/Squat, and overall isometric hold. The more weight you do with each, obviously you will get stronger.
• Proprioception. When you have a big chunk of iron directly above you, you become super aware of each part of your body and where it’s at and where it needs to go. You will notice how the slightest adjustment affects what you’re doing and becomes immediately clear.
• Balance. I think this speaks for itself. Any deviation from proper form will send that kettlebell (or you) right down.
• Focus. You have to constantly focus and be aware of every movement throughout this exercise. After getting in more then 3 reps will power is what will help fight off fatigue & let you get in that last rep (or two).
• Grip. A big one for me. If you have weak grip, this will help strengthen those forearm & wrist muscles. Your wrist an forearm work to keep any lateral movement of that kettlebell from occurring. You will feel it the next day.
These are just some of the benefits of this exercise. Kettlebells overall are great to use in your routine.