Throughout the past week we have talked about healthy eating options, how to create a healthy diet/lifestyle; we have also discussed principles to keep you motivated and even ran through a few workout routines. As individuals in our society, we are constantly on the move and have to allocate our time between work, school, the gym and most importantly our friends and family. This article is dedicated to getting you in and out of the gym in roughly an hour. Using this method will help you reach your fitness needs and satisfy your New Year’s resolution.
Why Strength Train?
A majority of the people I have trained during my time at the gym “know” strength training is important yet fail to implement it into their routine. Many of them only use cardio equipment such as stationary bikes, ellipticals and treadmills. These pieces of equipment are very important to a well-balanced workout routine, however, they can limit your success. Balancing your time in the gym between cardio and strength training (resistance training) is a very important. Below are what I think are the top benefits of strength training.
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- Strength training protects bone density and slows down the aging process – the same can be said for preserving and increasing muscle mass and slowing down muscle wasting.
- Strength training makes you stronger – Having a strong, active body will increase your endurance mentally and physically. Being “in shape” is a wonderful feeling and allows you to get the most out of life.
- Resistance training puts you “In tune” with your body – you will be able to understand what your body needs/wants; training can also help develop better body mechanics and increase flexibility, which will prevents many injuries as one ages.
- Strength training can improve your quality of life – Working out releases endorphins which make you feel great, can help fight off depression, and allow one to sleep better.
- Muscle Mass burns more calories – More calories are used to make and maintain muscle mass, strength training can also stimulate and increase your resting metabolism by roughly 15%. Your body also continues to burn calories at an increased rate during and after training.
How I Balance Weight Training and Cardio
Before I start a training session I always try and warm up for a minimum of 5 minutes, maximum of 15 (depending on the day and body part trained). I do this by a variety of stretching and slow cardio (on the stationary bike or treadmill) I do this to get blood pumping and muscles “warm”, in addition it helps you get into the “zone” and think about what you are there to do.
Finding the Balance
Balancing weight training and cardio will vary in my opinion person to person. For myself I do cardio sessions (15-20+ minutes) only 1-2 times a week because my goals are not fat loss orientated. If your goals are simply to lose fat I suggest a 5-10min warm up before going into your weight training routine (check out my example in “should women train chest”).
Start with a compound/core lift and from there move to a few accessories. Focus on speed and volume with short rest times. From here I suggest simple interval training with a bike or treadmill. For example, start at a 7% incline at 3.0mph for 90 seconds, and then drop the incline to 1.5% at 7.0mph. You can do this for 15-25 minutes. The key is to keep your heart rate in the “fat burning zone”. I vary this sample weekly, changing incline and speed. I have had remarkable results using this method of training. When I am finished I suggest hitting a very quick ab circuit to burn out on.
Depending on your personal goals, the amount of time between cardio and strength training will change; for a general rule of thumb I would suggest making it equal over the course of a few months. For example, maybe during week 1 you train 6 days a week, each day focus more on one or the other. Say Monday is a higher intensity cardio day, you strength train for 20 minutes and then hit cardio for the remainder of your time. Then Tuesday you spend 40 minutes strength training and only 15 on cardio. I suggest switching it up often so you keep having fun in the gym and it doesn’t become a chore.