Is Your Workout Making You Fat?
This sounds bizarre – because all exercise is good exercise, right? But latest studies have implied that the wrong kind of workout session can make your body hold onto weight rather than eliminate it. It’s a feud that we all know too well – have you ever found that after a few of months of stable weight loss from slaving away in the gym, things can come to a standstill? The cause of this could be that in your training sessions you’re doing the wrong type of workout.
The time you spend running, cycling and cross training (cardiovascular exercise) might burn off superficial calories, but excessive cardio can cause the body to break down lean muscle tissue, due to the body having nothing left to burn. Therefore your body holds onto fat – resulting in weight loss being more problematic. Additionally, cardio also motivates the body to generate the stress hormone cortisol, which won’t be doing your waistline any favours! Cortisol stimulates the body to produce more insulin, a hormone that can prompt the body to store fat, especially around the midriff. The workout that doctors favor as a way to slim down is resistance training – any workout that stimulates your body’s muscle instead of your heart. Lean muscle tissue is your metabolism’s best friend – it allows the body to burn calories even while you’re relaxing.
Resistance training is easy to incorporate into your workout – and into your daily routine. You know when you’re walking uphill and need to slow down, because you can feel a strain in your muscles? That’s the resistance training were talking about, so keep going.
Quite a few of women still believe that if your lifting weights they will give you giant, Arnold Schwarzenegger style muscles, but that’s nothing more than a myth. Sculpting your muscle with the right training will give you tone, definition and inch loss.
If those perks aren’t enough, some weight lifting can also do wonders for back pain. This is because resistance helps strengthen the whole body, including the abdominal muscles – weak abs can throw your posture out of balance, putting a strain on the back (not to mention that we’d all like a toned stomach!).
However, before you go sprinting to the bench-press machine, you may be better off integrate dumbbells into your workouts. That way, you can start by lifting light weights and build up repetitions step by step each week – protecting your muscles against overexertion and injuries, as well as helping you build up lean tissue. If you’re more of a cardio fan though, you won’t have to quit the endorphin rush altogether – experts suggest that you undertake a little cardio three times a week (anything from brisk walking to cycling), along with a few two weekly resistance training workouts. That way, your weight loss is likely to be persistent – and therefore successful.
If you like the way your workout routine is now, here are some smart ways to include a little resistance into your everyday life:
At the Gym
– Don’t forget to warm up – a few stretches will help get the blood flowing through your muscles and prevent injury.
– Use the mirrors – they-re not just for the body building posers! You’ll be able to see it your posture needs adjusting you could strain your back if you exercise while slouching.
– Start with 2lbs (1kg) weights and increase every few sessions – aim to lift an extra pound each week.
– If you can’t get enough of running or walking on the treadmill, increase the incline. You work more muscles in your legs compared to a flat surface.
– Try swimming – its cardiovascular exercise, but you still have to bear your weight to stay afloat, meaning an all-round workout.
Day to Day
– Don’t skirt around the hills when you’re walking – it will work almost all your leg muscles.
– Take the stairs wherever you can, one at a time. The reps will help sculpt you calves.
– If you’re a jogger, you can get your workout from a park bench! Use them as the base for push-ups or step-ups while mid-workout.
– Consider buying your own pair of hand weights – they usually cost 2-6 pounds each, depending on how heavy they are.
– Don’t flinch at having to carry the shopping home – sustaining the weight of a few tins for 10-15 minutes is great for your upper body strength.
Try these starter exercises with dumbbells (either in the gym or at home). Trust us you will feel the burn. You should aim to do around 8-10 reps at first, and increase when they become easy.
– Dumbbell incline bench presses (shoulders): Start with the dumbbells directly above your shoulders. Push upwards until your arms are fully extended and then bring them down again. Make sure your back isn’t too arched when you do, these and that your neck is straight.
– Bicep curls (upper arms): Hold the dumbbells down by your sides, with your palms facing outwards. Bend your arms upwards until the weights are in line with your shoulders. Slowly bring them down and repeat.
– Sit-ups (abs): Lie on your back with your knees bent, making sure your feet are flat on the floor. Start off with your hands resting on your thighs and, as you do the exercise, slowly slide them up your leg, towards your knees (this may look strange, but it’s a great way to ensure you don’t do your back in!). Once your palms reach your knees, slowly come back down again.
– Lunges (thighs and calves): Stand with your legs together and then lunge forward with your left leg (for about the distance of one long step). As you are lunging, bend your knee and flex your hip so your rear leg is almost in contact with the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat with your right leg.
– Squats (thighs and bum): Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Keeping your back straight, slowly bend your knees until you’re in a squatting position, and then slowly come back up. To get a bit more out of your upper body, hold your dumbbells at the same time.
Remember, the slower you do these exercises, the more effective they will be at toning your muscles – grin and bear it for a better body!
Why not combine your workout with one of our Slimming Products and see the weight fall off!