Exercising on a regular basis is an extremely important aspect of living a healthy lifestyle. I would recommend exercising at least 3 days per week, and doing something else active every other day of the week (ex. walking the dog, choosing the stairs vs. the elevator, playing a team sport, walking vs. driving when possible, etc.). When you workout at the gym it’s important that you don’t waste your time; you want to be sure you’re doing exercises that give you the most bang for your buck – a.k.a. weight training. Cardio is important, but if you’re working out 3 days/week you should be incorporating weight training into your routine 2 out of the 3 days. If you work out 5 days/week you should be weighting training 3 or 4 days out of the 5. I’m not a personal trainer so I won’t attempt to put together a workout routine for you, but I can provide some insight into why weight training will help you get in shape and stay that way.
Weight training will help you lose weight quicker and will keep you lean because it directly affects your metabolic rate. Your metabolic rate is basically the rate at which your body burns calories, which is directly related to the number of mitochondria in your cells.
Mitochondria are involved in the process of energizing your cells, and the more you have; the more energy or calories you burn. Unfortunately you can’t take a mitochondria supplement, so how do you get more?
Fat cells have very few mitochondria, and as a result; store energy rather than burn it. Muscle cells on the other hand have many mitochondria because they need more energy to perform. When you build muscle during weight training you build muscle cells, which increase your mitochondria and raise your metabolic rate. There’s your answer – the more weight training you do; the more calories you burn.
Another great benefit of building muscle is that you continue to burn calories after you’ve left the gym. After a weight training session; you have lots of mitochondria-filled cells and your metabolism is revving. Weight training on a regular basis raises your metabolic rate permanently, and you continue to burn calories even when you’re not exercising. Weight training will also help tone your legs, arms, butt & mid-section; giving you shape & definition.
If you only have about 30 minutes to exercise, try doing a circuit (a bunch of different exercises that you move through quickly to keep your heart rate up).
My go-to circuit looks like this:
1. Warm-up: skip for 5 minutes or the length of one song on your iPod
2. 20-25 push-ups
3. Leg cranks (you can substitute this with walking or stationary lunges holding a 10-15 pound weight):
-Lunges (12 each leg)
-12 Jumping squats
-24 jumping lunges
Repeat Part 1.
1. 15-20 Tricep push-ups or dips
2. Abs (2 different ab workouts each round, & do at least 25 of each)
Repeat Part 2.
Finish with stretching.
I also love doing Body Pump once a week. It’s a 1 hour muscle conditioning class offered at Goodlife. This class works all your muscle groups in an hour with a different song for each muscle. It’s a really great workout. My cardio days usually include a Spinning class or a 30 minute jog outside.
Naturally, the more you exercise the more food energy your body requires. To avoid breaking even or gaining weight; make sure to incorporate a lean protein into every meal (ex. eggs, chicken, fish, tofu, tuna, cottage cheese, almonds, etc.). Protein releases energy slowly so your muscles can use that energy throughout the day; allowing you to eat reasonable portions while still feeing satisfied. Carbs are also a great source of energy, but make sure you’re eating whole grains, which will also help you feel full longer. And always incorporate fresh veggies & fruit throughout the day.