Hello Lovely Readers!
I have gone through many ups and downs over the years when it comes to sticking to fitness. The big thing for me is sticking with it, no matter the crazy things that are going on in my life. I always forget that sticking with my health and fitness and striving to meet my goals will help me cope with all the other things going on.
As some of you may know, I am in the midst of completing Arbonne’s 30 Days to Healthy Living challenge. If you’ve been keeping up with me on social media, you will know it’s been such a rewarding journey thus far. I feel more confident than I have in a very long time. Plus, I am becoming a stronger Athlete, a more confident person, and overall happier.
Knowing Where to Start…
When I first started going to the gym in my senior year of high school, I literally would run on the treadmill to Fergalicious, jump off, and peddle on the spin stations as fast as I could for 20 minutes. I had no clue what I was doing, and at the time, didn’t even know that you could change the resistance on the bikes…
oh yeah, and let’s not forget the period of high school where Just Dance Wii was my go to exercise (don’t judge).
Well this was great for losing a lot of weight, but it didn’t really change my body composition. For years I worked out, and though I learned a few things along the way, the one thing I wasn’t integrating into my work outs was strength training. This resulted in my plateau and huge frustrations that I was working out regularly, but nothing seemed to be changing.
Well fast forward to the Fall of 2017. I joined pole society at the University of Glasgow and started to pole regularly. This sport has always been a great love of mine, but also has been one of the most challenging things I have done. It required a lot of strength that I did not have, and I again, became frustrated that a year and a half of doing this sport and I could not even begin to try half the moves my other pole friends had mastered.
So back to this health journey. I knew that getting in shape needed to be different this time and so I did a ton of research. Turns out strength training would solve all my issues that I had been having, however, it was having a balanced work out routine that would yield the best results.
Having a balanced routine that includes a mix of strength, cardio and stretch will help your muscles build, burn the most fat, and allow for flexibility and muscle recovery.
What do you need to include in your fitness regimen?
Your fitness regimen will entirely depend on how active you want to be. If you are just getting into fitness, it is suggested that you start with maybe 2-3 days a week and build up to more days as you get more in shape. This will keep you from hurting yourself or causing too much strain on your muscles.
ACSM Guidelines suggest that we should be getting 150-300 minutes of exercise in a week. This equates to about 3-5 days a week of 1 hour work outs. However, this includes NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis). These are activities that would not count as exercise per say, but that you burn calories such as vacuuming, taking the dog for a walk etc. Basically, the more that you make a point to get move throughout your day, the healthier you will be, (sounds like common sense right?).
Ideally you should have a good mix of exercise methods in your fitness regimen in order to burn fat and to increase fitness ability. Here is what you need to include:
The ACSM recommends about 75-150 minutes a week of intense aerobic activity. So about 2-3 hours a week you should spend doing some vigorous cardio such as spin, running, cardio dance, or HIIT.
However, not all cardio is created equal. If your focus is weight loss, studies show that HIIT training is the most effective for burning fat and building endurance and stamina. Plus, most HIIT exercises incorporate strength moves, so you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. This form of exercise is when you do short bursts of high intensity workouts with short rests in between. HIIT trainings are great because they can be incorporated into just about any routine. Plus, HIIT has been shown to be very efficient in burning fat and actually has shown to increase your metabolism! Plus you are building endurance through raising and lowering your heart rate.
I recently did a quick 15 minute HIIT on the treadmill before working on some strength moves. In 15 minutes I was clocked at having burned 160 calories. It was the most intense 15 minute work out I had ever done! But it felt amazing 🙂
Check out this 25 minute HIIT workout here
2. Strength Workouts
So I do lift weights, but only about once a week. Plus, I haven’t worked up the nerve to take a gym selfie yet, so you get to see my lovely at-home-barre workout selfies! whoohoo!
I consider pole, barre and Vinyasa yoga a strength workout. They work your muscles and help you build strength and flexibility, plus they are so much fun! I love Barre because it is easy to do from the comfort of your own home, and you can use a chair.
Strength workouts are a great way to see results because as you build muscle, you burn more fat. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate. If you build muscle it helps you burn off unwanted and stubborn fat and it helps you keep it off! So if you want your workouts to be efficient, it is important to include strength training.
There are so many other advantages to incorporating strength training into your exercise routine. By doing so, you are actually helping your body protect bone and muscle mass and increase cardiovascular health.
My favorite strength workouts are those that incorporate some sort of dance or stretch. So I only lift actual weights about once a week. Barre, pole and vinyasa are all amazing ways to build strength throughout your entire body, so don’t be afraid to stir up the pot and try something new!
3. Stretch Days
I love yoga as a means of exercise because while you are giving your muscles a nice stretch, you are also building strength! So, double win 🙂
There is a lot of argument on whether yoga should be treated as a recovery workout. While some forms yoga deliver amazing benefits to recovering muscles, not all forms are good as a means of recovery per se.
Yoga such as Hatha yoga, which is low impact and focused on stretch, is an amazing way to recover. This is true especially if you do a lot of weight lifting or put your muscles under a lot of strain. Vinyasa yoga, which incorporates strength exercises, should not be used for muscle recovery.
I love to integrate yoga with the rest of my strength workouts. I practice primarily Vinyasa flow, which allows me to build my strength as well as my flexibility and balance. I have become much more flexible and my pole practice has become much better since starting Vinyasa.
But either way, practicing yoga reduces your risk of injury when doing other work outs, helps build stamina and helps increase your mood!
4. Rest Days
You need to take days off to be successful. Your muscles need recovery time!
Yes, You really do need to take rest days
When we work out, what happens is you are creating micro-tears in your muscular tissue. These tears get filled in with more tissue which becomes a larger muscle 🙂 However, the only time that these tears heal is when we are resting. If you don’t properly give your body a chance to rest after workouts you will plateau in your progress. In fact, overstraining your body can lead to immunity issues and may even lead to injury.
However, just because it is a rest day doesn’t mean you should lounge about. Aim for an active rest day, where you focus on low impact activities such as going for a walk, hatha yoga or even counting those NEAT activities 🙂
Constant work and strain on your muscles can be more detrimental to your fitness gains than help. It is important to give your muscles the time they need to repair themselves and grow stronger! Like you, they need a little bit of a rest period.
So like everything else, your routine needs to be balanced.
Switch it up
Constantly doing the same routine will end up in a plateau. If you keep doing the same circuits, your muscles will actually adapt and will stop building. Not to mention, the more you switch things up, the more muscles you will end up working. Thus, you will become stronger from head to toe.
Here are some ideas to help you mix up your routine :
- Vinyasa Yoga
- Wight lifting
- Les Mills Body Pump
- HIIT Strength
- HIIT Cardio
If you don’t want to go to the gym for whatever reason, YouTube and Pop sugar are amazing resources for free work out videos that you can do from the comfort of your own home.
I usually do most of my work outs at the gym, but because my gym doesn’t offer a Barre class, sometimes I will just resort to doing one in my bedroom. These are my favorite ones, they are short but are very effective:
What my routine looks like:
So I aim to have two rest days a week, but I try to make them active rest days. This might mean that I go for a small walk, or make an effort to walk and stretch more at work. I aim to get 10,000 steps in on my rest days. So far, I have not even come close to this goal! I’ve been hitting around 7,000 steps on my rest days thus far. I know this will increase when I move back to Scotland for Uni, because I will literally be walking everywhere.
I have always kind of stuck to dance cardio as my work out of choice. If you can’t tell, I prefer work outs that are fun and integrate some sort of dance or stretch 🙂 I also do various strength exercises such as vinyasa yoga, pole, body pump, and sometimes a wee barre session.
Here is how I schedule my current workouts 🙂
This schedule is based on a 300 minute exercise week. I attempt to so some form of exercise 5 days a week. This has really been helpful for fitting in cardio, strength and stretch. On days I don’t have time, I aim to do a 15/20 minute HIIT workout and maybe some yoga just to make sure I am still doing something active.
I take two rest days, two cardio, and two-three strength days. I practice a type of yoga known as Vinyasa flow, which is designed to be more physically demanding. While you do stretch in Vinyasa, you also do a lot of strength building, so I count my yoga day as a stretch/strength day. I do switch this up time to time just to make sure I am not plateauing!
What is your favorite type of workout?