Archives for December 2014

What’s the best workout when I’m short on time? | Ask a personal trainer

I get asked a lot of questions about exercise and nutrition.

Questions from my clients, group fitness participants, blog readers and social media followers. Sometimes these questions are of a personal nature and I reply privately. Other times, they’re queries that many of you may also be interested in hearing the answers to.

AskATrainer

Introducing a new, occasional feature on the blog: “Ask a Personal Trainer”.

(** And note, that names have been changed to protect those who don’t want to be ‘outed’ publicly 😉 )

What’s the best workout when I’m short on time? Ask a Personal Trainer
Dear Fitknitchick,
Let me start by saying that I love the free workouts you share on Facebook, YouTube and your blog. I think I’ve tried most of them by now and appreciate the work you’ve done in making them challenging, interesting and not too complicated (I’m not very coordinated…). My absolute favourite is your Whole Body Bosu Circuit Workout. Thanks!

However, sometimes I don’t have time to do the entire workout. My life is super hectic right now with a husband who travels for work, a part-time job of my own, a sick mother who needs my attention and two school age children whose activities take up much of our weekday evenings.

My question to you: if I only have time to do part of a workout, should I cut back on sets and repetitions or only do half of the exercises? Which one is better for my goal of reducing body fat and getting toned muscles? I should add that I can find fifteen minutes of time for exercise almost every day, but realistically can only fit a one hour workout in on Saturday (when my girls are at dance for the entire morning).

Thanks for taking the time to respond (and please keep those workouts coming!),

Anna**

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Dear Anna**,

And thank you for taking the time to ask a fantastic question! You’re certainly not alone in having limited time to exercise. Major kudos for being consistent with your ‘daily 15’; it’s precisely that consistency that will help you reach your fat loss-muscle building goals!

The most important thing you can do when your workout time is limited is prioritize your exercises. Ensure that the exercises you’re doing are the ones most likely to help you reach your goals.

In your case, I’d suggest choosing compound movements over single joint isolation exercises. That is, make sure you’re getting your squats, dead lifts, pushups and rows done before you consider adding a bicep curl or tricep extension to your workout. Not only will the big movements work more muscle groups, they’ll also burn more calories than the isolation exercises will. Plus, biceps and triceps will get a workout anyways; they help with rows and pushups, respectively!

Since you work out almost every day, I’d consider splitting your workouts up by body part. Concentrate on chest and back on day one (think pushups, chin ups, pull ups and rows), legs and glutes on day two (squat, lunge, dead lift and hip thrust) and arms and core on the third day of your workout week (shoulder press, planks and core rotation).

Then repeat the three workout days so that you’re getting two workouts per body part split each week. You should see good growth with this type of training program, particularly if you’re lifting to near fatigue and progressing your workouts from week to week by increasing the difficulty of the exercise or upping the load you’re lifting.

If you find you’re super pressed for time, choose two or three exercises per workout and aim to perform 2 to 3 sets of 8-10 good form reps of each. Super- or tri-setting them (performing one set of each exercise, back to back, before repeating the mini circuit) will save you the traditional minute between sets, getting you through your workout even faster.

And don’t forget to save a few minutes for stretching at the end. Often, when we’re short of exercise time, stretching is the first thing we drop from our routine. Even 3-4 minutes of post-working stretching is enough to help flush out lactic acid and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness.

Let me know if this helps!

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Prepare to succeed | Tips for overcoming your inner saboteur

When it comes to starting and sticking with a new exercise program, nobody undermines our efforts better than we, ourselves, do.

The most common stumbling block to developing new fitness habits isn’t time or money or access to a gym or clean workout clothes (don’t laugh, I’ve heard this one more than a few times).

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-dirty-clothes-picture-image43589489

It’s that little voice in our head that tells us “it’s okay to miss a workout” because we’re “tired” or “don’t have time to fuel properly” or “already exercised enough this week” or “can’t find any other time to have coffee with Sally”.

No matter how excited you are to get started with a new program, it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually tire of it and start to look for excuses not to exercise. It’s human nature. We love things when they’re shiny and novel. Not so much once the bloom is off the rose.

The difference between people who successfully push through the excuses and under-mining self-talk and those who don’t?

They expect the excuses to happen and plan for how they’ll deal with it when their inner saboteur inevitably shows up.

Tips for overcoming your inner saboteur:
  • bullet-proof your excuses. Know yourself well enough to draw up a list of the excuses you’ll be most likely to use. Draft a response for each excuse. Remind yourself of your ‘why’; the reason you started down this path in the first place. (Not sure what your ‘why’ is? Scroll down to the bottom of this post and grab a copy of my free e-book “5 Steps to Exercise Happiness”. The first step is finding your ‘why’.)
  • adopt a ‘just 10-minutes’ attitude. Tell yourself that when it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing. Commit to 10 minutes. If, at the end of that time, you really are too tired to continue (or Sally texts you wondering why you’re late for coffee…), finish up and commend yourself for what you did, rather than berating yourself for what you didn’t. Oh, and if that 10 minutes was exactly what you needed to get  jazzed about working out, continue on. Sometimes all you need is a little movement to overcome that activation threshold.
  • create rules around exercise. Decide what your ‘bare minimum’ exercise week looks like. Create rules to maintain this routine. My two exercise rules? “Always work out on Monday” (for me, missing a Monday paves the way for a less-than-stellar workout week) and “Never take more than 2 days in a row off” (I find it incredibly difficult to come back to the gym after 3 days off).
  • enlist an accountability partner. Have a friend or family member who’d be happy to give you a swift kick in the pants from time to time? I know I do ;-). Enlist their help by giving them your workout schedule for the week and asking them to send you a quick text or email when you’re supposed to be heading out the door. Even better? Get them to commit to exercising with you. Promise to support and encourage each other to follow through with the plan, even on days when one of you isn’t feeling it.
  • hire a personal trainer. In addition to teaching you proper exercise form, creating a program that’s individualized for you and progressing that program at appropriate intervals, your trainer won’t allow you to succumb to your inner saboteur. Just knowing that she’s waiting for you at the gym is often enough to overcome the excuses in your head. (And if they’re still hanging around when you arrive for your workout, she’ll be happy to assign a few burpees to help banish them…)

tips to overcome your Inner Saboteur

 

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