Healthy Byte: Getting Back at it After a Gym Hiatus

ORIGINALLY POSTED HERE

Getting back into a workout routine when you’ve taken time off is intimidating, so I’ve outlined a guide to help you ease in without losing motivation or risking injury. Just remember: It’s all about baby steps!

Keep in mind, your level of progression is largely based upon your total time off, the reason for the break (surgery, work, children), and your level of fitness prior to it. (You’ll totally relate to The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Taking a Workout Hiatus.) I advise returning to a workout program in a progressive manner. If you start off by placing too large of a demand on your body, you run the risk of injury and a quick regression backward. Being so sore the next day that you are hobbling down the stairs does not indicate a quality workout.

1. Start with Flexibility Workouts

Your first progressive step forward should be to integrate a couple days of flexibility workouts in order to increase blood flow and circulation while assisting in range of motion and joint mobility. Flexibility is one of the most overlooked protocols of fitness routines, and establishing these protocols early on will allow your body to properly readjust to the new demands that will be placed on it. If you have access to health club or fitness professional, I recommend signing up for a flexibility or beginner yoga class. (Or do it without leaving the house: try this beginner yoga flow video to increase flexibility.) Select 10 to 15 stretches, performing each flexibility movement for up to 1 minute.

2. Add Easy Cardio

Next, depending on your schedule and time commitment, try incorporating light cardiorespiratory workouts after a couple stretching or yoga sessions. If weather permits, a brisk 20-minute outdoor walk will help invigorate your mind and get your body moving again. (Other options: try this low-impact HIIT workout for beginners or walking workout for gentle indoor cardio.) The treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bike are great indoor alternatives. If you had a well-established fitness base prior to a month-long break, your first week may include light jogging as opposed to walking.

3. Start Strength Training

After the first week of flexibility and light cardio, start to incorporate strength workouts into your routine. (Try this gentle strength training workout for getting back into the gym.) Your time away from fitness probably involved a lot of sitting, which causes weakness in your posterior chain. These muscles are important for basic everyday movement, as well as keeping your spine erect when at your desk. That is why is at this point one must look to incorporate exercises that improve posture, develop core strength, and activate muscles throughout your gluteus and hamstring regions.

Exercises like squats, lunges, bridges, TRX hamstring curls, stability ball mobility, and core work will help to activate these areas. TRX workouts and bodyweight workouts are ideal for working these muscles and create a safe transition back into your fitness regimen because you can work within your own fitness level.

Healthy Byte: Better for Weight Loss – Cardio or Strength Training?

Originally Posted HERE

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When it comes to losing weight, should you head to the treadmill or make gains in the weight room? In the long-standing debate, cardio enthusiasts say you’ll burn fat by torching calories when you increase that heart rate. Weight lifters, however, believe excess fat is best shed by increasing muscle mass because it causes you to burn more calories throughout the day.

So which is best?

Both arguments are true, according to Dr. Andy Galpin, PhD, CSCS, NSCA-CPT and Associate Professor at California State University, Fullerton.

You burn more calories when you’re heart rate is elevated, explains Galpin. You also burn more calories every second of the day when you have more muscle. However, the difference won’t be significant for most people, says Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D, C.S.C.S..

Ultimately, there isn’t just one “right” exercise,

“Fat loss for most people is simply a product of work,” he says. “The best exercise you ever do for fat loss is the one that you’re most consistent with.”

It makes sense that you’re less likely to lace up for that jog if you detest running. “Adherence and effort will determine a huge percentage of the fat loss pie,” says Galpin.

Galpin admits the answer isn’t satisfying, but claims most people won’t notice a huge difference in fat loss by choosing one type of modality.

There’s no need to spend hours on your deadlift if you’d rather run, but Galpin believes changing your routine has benefits that go beyond weight. It’s natural to get bored of the same spin class. Trying something new, like kickboxing or weight lifting, will feel less monotonous and improve your adherence, he asserts.

You also open yourself up to injuries by continually stressing the same muscles–especially if you have bad form.

“Over time it will catch you,” says Galpin.

Plus, losing weight shouldn’t be the only reason you work out.

Aerobic activities have long been praised for making your heart stronger, lowering blood pressure, and yes, burning calories. But studies show that regular cardiovascular activity may help lower stress, improve sleeping habits, and reduces joint stiffness, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Strength training is also beneficial because it increases bone density, lean muscle mass, and metabolism, Mayo Clinic reported.

That said, working out won’t change the number on the scale if you’re living on pizza and fries. Earlier this year, researchers found that people who began an exercise plan ate about 90 more calories each day. This isn’t much, but it was enough to stall weight loss, according to the paper published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Exercise doesn’t burn as many calories as you’d think. For example, an 180-pound man who jogs a 10-minute mile for 30 minutes burns about 400 calories, according to ACE Fitness. To put this into perspective, a supreme slice from Pizza Hut contains 330 calories. That run likely wont negate extra calories from indulgent meals.

Unless you’re Rich Froning, chances are you won’t exercise away a day filled with pizza, french fries and donuts. Low calorie (but highly nutritious) foods that contain protein and fiber are important in a well-balanced diet.

“Fiber-rich foods provide a certain level of satiety and fullness,” Bethany Doerfler, MS, RDN, Clinical Dietitian at Northwestern University, previously told Men’s Health.

And you don’t have need to exercise to notice a difference in your waist size, says Schoenfeld.

“One of my suggestions is to just get off your butt,” he says. “Try to be as active as possible.”

Your body burns calories 24-hours a day–not just when you’re in the gym. Calories burned from taking a walk at lunch, standing throughout the day, and even cleaning the house all add up, he explains.

When it comes to planning your fitness routine, Schoenfeld says you should focus on more than just the numbers on the scale.

Think about your goals: Do you want to build muscle? Or would you prefer to work on endurance training?

If you simply want to feel and look better overall, include both cardio and strength training.

“Ideally both are beneficial,” says Schoenfeld.