the fitness journal
Five Things to do Today for Instant Fitness Progress
Five Things to do Today for Instant Fitness Progress
We live in the here and now. People want things quickly and effectively, with no time for patience. 'In a minute' is often too long to wait. That applies to almost everything in this modern-day world, but the truth is, with health and fitness, everything takes time to be fully realised. Despite the lack of a 'quick-fix' that doesn't mean there aren't things you can do today to help you in the short- and long-term. Let's take a look at 5 things you can do right now, to help you in the future.
1. Resistance Isn't Futile
There is more to your workout than cardio exercises. If you're not including some resistance training into your routine, then you really need to start right now!
Resistance training involves any exercise that means your muscles contract against an external force; either using it's own weight or gravity itself to create this force. This is done with the expectation that there will be a subsequent increase in strength, mass, tone or endurance of the muscles. This can mean using anything from dumbbells, bands, barbells or even your own body weight. The intensity of the exercise means it tends to be focussed on power and is anaerobic in nature.
As we touched on, one of the biggest benefits of resistance training, sometimes known as strength or weight training, is the increase in muscle mass and tone. Regular resistance training means your muscles will increase in size as they work harder and harder to overcome the resistance force they are faced with. As you get stronger and the resistance force increases, so too will your muscles.
If you're following a fitness programme that is well-rounded, i.e. focusses on a variety of disciplines rather than just one, resistance training will also help you to improve joint function, bone density as well as muscle, tendon and ligament strength.
2. Drink More Water
When it comes to training and exercise, we can often focus too much on what you eat. It's equally important to drink, in this case, we're talking about water!. Our bodies are composed of around 60% water, so when we are dehydrated, it can affect our performance in many ways.
As human beings, we need water just to live. We can live much longer without food, than we can without water, so it's vital to your training and your life in general! When it comes to your training, you need proper hydration to increase your performance. As water composes about 75% of muscle tissue, being dehydrated can lead to weakness, feeling dizzy, fatigue and an imbalance in your electrolytes.
As hard as you're working in the gym, if you are dehydrated, your body will be unable to cool itself (which is the reason we sweat in the first place). This can lead to heat exhaustion and curtail your session. It will also manifest itself as a lack of energy and your muscles will cramp. Don't wait until you feel thirsty to drink water. That is already a sign that you're on your way to being dehydrated.
If you're unsure as to whether you're dehydrated or not, check your urine. Ideally, your urine should be 'straw coloured'; pale yellow and plentiful. The darker the urine, the more dehydrated you are.
3. Prepare Your Food
It might sound like an obvious statement to make, but preparing your food really does help you. Unless you're permanently eating raw food in its natural state, everyone will need to prepare their food to some degree.
Preparing food gives you more than just practice in the kitchen. For many of us, the time we have to train is precious, especially when we're trying to balance it between work, family commitments and the million of other things we have to deal with.
Preparing your food in advance, and in larger batches, means you can make the meals you need for the week which gives you even more time to spare later. It also means you can control the quality and quantity of the ingredients you use. This makes calorie counting and nutritional composition much easier and gives you the control over what you eat.
4. Put your Feet Up
We're not talking having a lazy time and letting all your efforts go to waste, but a great quick way to improve your overall health. This is a brilliant 5 minute drill for reducing cortisol, boosting digestion and reducing anxiety. In yoga or meditative circles it is known as Viparita Karani, or the more suitable 'Legs Up The Wall' pose!
- Lie on the floor near a wall and practice deep, steady breathing.
- Exhale and swing your legs up onto the wall so that your heels and sitting bones are supported against it. Looking from the side, you'd look like a 'L'
- If you have any discomfort in your lower back, adjust your body slightly back from the wall so that your sitting bones are not touching it.
- Rest your head on the mat or floor, keeping your spine straight, and bend your knees a little so your kneecaps won't lock. Keep your arms stretched out to the side.
- Once in the position, close your eyes for anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes.
It might be a new exercise to you, but I guarantee you'll feel great after doing it.
5. Focus Fully on your Gym Session.
As much as I love spending time in the gym with my clients, more time in the gym doesn't equal more results. It's an important part of training, don't get me wrong, but it's not everything.
To get the most out of your gym session, you should be focusing on intensity and a variety of training to achieve your goals. Intensity is too easily forgotten when it comes to training. It defines itself as burning as much energy as you can during exercise in a small amount of time. In reality, it can change what you get from the same exercise like no other factor.
Anyone who has pushed themselves harder than they thought possible will understand what 'high intensity' training feels like. It can mean the difference between burning a few calories and burning a lot. By alternating the intensity of your workouts, you can make a massive difference in what you are achieving. Don't spend your life living in the gym, instead make sure you make the most of the time you do spend there.