Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Top 7 Ways To Improve Your Workout

Everybody wants to spend their time effectively. Spending a lot of time in a gym could not be so effectively as you want to. Here are small tips which will improve your gym workouts:

  1. Limit your workouts to 40 minutes. Though the tendency of some people who really want to get a lot out of their workouts is to spend a lot of time at the gym, the truth is that after 30 or 40 minutes, the benefit isn’t as great. It’s better to work out at a higher intensity for a shorter amount of time. If you still think that you need a lot of workouts split them. Go to the gym 5 days a week.
  2. Water. Be sure to drink a lot of water throughout the day. It takes a couple of hours for your body to absorb it, so you can’t just drink right before exercise. Make it a habit to drink water regularly throughout the day.
  3. Slow lifting. Many people contract their muscles slowly and then release more quickly. But if you lift slowly in both directions, you are maximizing each move. Lift and lower to a 5-second count in each direction. Making exercises slow really give much more effect.
  4. Heavier weight. When you’re starting out, it’s best to start with lower weights so you can focus on good form. But once you’ve gotten your form down, it’s best to lift the heaviest weights you can lift while still keeping good form. Don’t sacrifice form for heavy weights — that is ineffective. But heavy weights, with good form, can give you better results in a shorter amount of time. Heavy weights are not just for those who want to bulk up — that’s a common misconception. So your set could looks like a stairs.
  5. Pick a cardio exercise you enjoy. It’s no fun to exercise if you hate it. And you won’t keep it up for very long. Pick something that’s fun — running, walking, swimming, biking, hiking, rowing, stairmaster, etc. After the initial phase when you’re getting used to exercise, you’ll start to have a blast and look forward to it.
  6. Mix it up. Don’t stick to the same workout routine for too long, or your body will adjust to the stress level and you won’t be getting an effective workout. For strength training, change your routine every few weeks. Or even change routines every week. For cardio, it’s best to cross train rather than, say, to run every time.
  7. Shake before and after workout. It’s best to take a protein/carb shake just before your workout and then just after. Taking it before your workout increases the flow of amino acids to your muscles during training, giving them the building blocks they need. After the workout, the shake stimulates muscle growth. Also take a small protein/carb meal 60-90 minutes after a workout — a meal replacement bar would work fine.

Friday, February 08, 2008

7 Ways to Build the Exercise Habit

You’ve probably tried it several times. You’re fed up with your skinny look or overweight body. You decide to finally do something about it. So you take a gym membership. Some friends decide to join you. After a few weeks however, your friends don’t show up anymore. Then you end up alone. And eventually you quit.

Yeah I know, this happens all the time. I’ve seen it over and over again. I know what you’re thinking. How come some people can stick with it and others not? What is their secret?

I’ll first tell you what it is not: it’s not discipline, it’s not willpower. Discipline and willpower only work in the short-term.

What works in the long-term is making exercise a habit. That’s their secret. And that’s what this post is about — 7 ways to build the exercise habit.

  1. Set your Goal.

    What do you want to achieve?
    Bigger muscles?
    Less fat?
    More strength?
    More speed?

    Exercising can be used for several means. Before you take a gym membership, start by setting a definite goal. What is it that you want?

    Don’t try to achieve more than 1 thing at a time. Start with one goal. Once you have attained it, you can work towards a second goal.

  2. Set a Deadline.

    Set a date by which you will reach your goal. Write your goal and deadline on a piece of paper and put it somewhere you can see it multiple times a day.A good place would be on your nightstand. Look at it on waking up and before going to bed. This will act as a constant reminder of your goal.

  3. Make a Plan.

    Once you have set your goal, you must back it up with a plan.
    Which exercises will you perform?
    How many sets and reps will you do?
    How many times a week will you go the gym?
    Your time is precious. Any minute in the gym must bring you closer towards the achievement of your goal. So choose a solid training program. If you’re a total beginner to strength training, read Starting Strength. It’s the best place to start.

  4. Exercise First Thing in the Morning.

    When you’ve just had a tough day at work, it can be hard to train for another hour at the gym. A solution is to exercise first thing in the morning:
    Wake up early
    Eat breakfast
    Prepare the stuff you need for work
    Go to the gym
    One hour later, you’re another step closer towards the achievement of your goal. And you have your whole day to do whatever you need to do.

  5. Stick to your Plan.

    This is something I experienced on numerous occasions. The days you don’t feel like exercising, are often your best days. Maybe it’s the mind-body connection: the body says no, but the mind says go. Thus the body eventually says go too. I don’t know.
    Whatever it is, when it’s the day to train, it’s the day to train. Make no excuses, go the gym. If you don’t feel 100% healthy, still go the gym, but train at a lower intensity. The fact that you’ve been there, is more important than the quality of your training. And as I wrote above, sometimes it can turn out into one of your most productive workouts.

    The more you exercise, the more you build the habit. Stick to your plan.

  6. Train With Someone Who Has The Exercise Habit.

    If you’re training partner quits, you’ll probably end up quitting too. But if your training partner hangs on, you’ll take it as a challenge.

    Next time you go the gym, look around you. Look at the people who exercise. Find someone who is serious with his training. Take the initiative: ask him if you can train with him. If you choose the right person, he’ll accept your request. Most people know that getting into exercising is not easy, they know because they’ve been there.

    A good training partner will motivate you & help you achieve your goal. If not, keep on looking.

  7. Be confident.
    You can achieve whatever you want, if you believe that you can do it. Having a clear goal and a plan will already arm you with self-confidence.

    Know that it will take 30 days to build the exercise habit. During the first 30 days you’ll need to push yourself to the gym. After 30 days it will become easier: the habits starts to take over, pushing you the gym.

Write this next to your goal and deadline: “If they can do it, I can do it”

Thursday, February 07, 2008

10 Great Tips To Feel More Energized

A lot of people complain that they feel tired right after the day begins. Thats could happen because of different things but there are small tips follow which everybody could feels much more energized:

  1. Have breakfast... even if you don't feel hungry. You'll be a lot perkier: Studies show that people who eat breakfast feel better both mentally and physically than those who skip their morning meal. British researchers at Cardiff University even found that spooning up a bowl of breakfast cereal every morning is associated with lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  2. Stay hydrated. Water makes up the majority of your blood and other body fluids, and even mild dehydration can cause blood to thicken, forcing the heart to pump harder to carry blood to your cells and organs and resulting in fatigue. Also, ample fluids keep energy-fueling nutrients flowing throughout the body, says Nancy Clark, R.D., author of Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook. To gauge your hydration, Clark recommends monitoring how often you urinate. You should be going every two to four hours, and your urine should be clear or pale yellow in color. Tip: Besides drinking more, you can also consume foods that naturally contain water, such as yogurt, broccoli, carrots, and juicy fruits, like watermelons, oranges, and grapefruits.
  3. Watch caffeine intake after noon. Typically, consuming a moderate amount of caffeine — 200 to 300 mg, the amount found in two to three cups of coffee — can make you more energetic and alert in the hours following, says Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D., a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. But when caffeine is consumed in large quantities — or anytime in the afternoon or evening — the quality of your sleep that night can take a nosedive, leaving you with heavy eyelids the next day. One caution for those who are highly sensitive to caffeine: Although switching to a decaf latte in the afternoon sounds like the answer, researchers at the University of Florida found that out of 22 decaffeinated coffee beverages tested, all but one contained some caffeine.
  4. Splash some water on your face or take a shower when you're feeling burned-out. Some 55 percent of study participants reported using these types of "water therapy" to successfully increase their energy, according to findings in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Apparently, a little H 2 O refresher can instantly help take the edge off when you're feeling overwhelmed
  5. Take belly breaths. When we're under stress, we're prone to take "chest breaths" — short, shallow ones, says Domar. Chest breathing brings less air into the lungs and reduces the supply of energizing oxygen to the body and brain, leaving you physically and mentally drained. The goal is deep, diaphragmatic breathing — like that of a sleeping infant: When you breathe in, your belly should round and fill like a balloon; on an exhale, your belly should slowly deflate. Of course, remembering to practice deep breathing isn't the first thing on your mind when you're under the gun, so as a visual reminder, try posting a tranquil picture (such as a pool of water or your kids smiling) with the word "breathe" next to your computer, or anywhere you tend to feel on edge.
  6. Cut back on TV and computer time after 8 p.m. If you're already a night owl (you go to bed late and sleep in on weekends), the bright light emitted from television and computer screens can make falling asleep at a decent hour even harder. The reason: Light suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone secreted at sunset that tells the brain that it's nighttime, explains John Herman, Ph.D., director of the training program in sleep medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas. And when melatonin levels are low, your brain is fooled into thinking that it's still daytime — and remains raring to go. Whenever possible, wait until the next morning to tune in and/or log on. If you must use light-emitting technology at night, try to turn it off an hour or two before hitting the sack.
  7. Give your pet his own separate sleeping space. At night, pets snore, jiggle their tags, move around a lot, and even hog the covers and bed space. It's no wonder that 53 percent of pet owners who sleep with their pets in the bedroom have some type of disrupted sleep every night, according to a study from the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center in Rochester, MN. Consider relocating your furry friend's sleeping quarters to another area, even if it's just his own bed in your bedroom.
  8. Lower the thermostat. For a good night's sleep, make sure your room is comfortably cool — enough so that you need a light blanket. This ensures that your environment is in sync with your body's internal temperature, which naturally drops during the night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Studies suggest the ideal sleeping temperature is between 54 and 75 degrees; anything cooler or warmer may cause you to wake up.
  9. Skip the nightcap. Alcohol depresses the nervous system — the system of cells, tissues, nerves, and organs that controls the body's responses to internal and external stimuli. So while sipping a glass of wine before bed may help you nod off, the sedative effects wear off as your body metabolizes the alcohol, which may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back to sleep. Alcohol has also been shown to interfere with the body's natural 24-hour biorhythms, causing blood pressure to rise and heart rate to race at night when it's normally calm and relaxed. You don't have to give up that evening cocktail entirely to achieve sound sleep — just try to avoid alcohol within two to three hours of bedtime.
  10. Write down your worries. During the day, jot down any stressors that are weighing on you, says Carden. Then, do some mental problem-solving before your head hits the pillow — or, if you're falling short on solutions, tuck your list away and resolve to brainstorm ideas during your morning shower or commute to work. Just knowing you've established a plan for tackling your to-do's will make you feel like you've made some progress, allowing you to relax, drift off — and wake up the next morning ready to take on the day.