I was trying to figure out how I wanted to word this post. There were so many angles. At first, this post started out with why you shouldn’t do crunches, but then I realized there’s just so much more that problem!
If you didn’t know that you shouldn’t be doing crunches, keep reading 🙂
Before you waltz into the gym, you need to figure out what you’re trying to achieve from your workouts. Doing one workout to achieve said goal will not get you there, so set aside short term and long term goals! Let’s pretend your goal is to lose weight- your short term goal is to lose 10 pounds by Thanksgiving and your longterm goal is to lose 30 pounds a year from now. Obviously, your workouts need to be conducive to this weight loss goal.
I think a lot of people think that if it makes you sweat, and if it makes you sore, it’s good for your goal- and that is so far from the truth! I see a lot of people mimicking other people’s workouts, which is easy to want to do if you see someone in the gym that looks more experienced than you or appears to be in better shape. But keep in mind that their goal is probably different than yours, they are working to get to their next goal, and they probably started where you are now and their workouts have evolved over time- just like yours will!
If you have a weight loss goal
Your workouts need to focus on working multiple muscle groups & keeping your heart rate high. The combination of a high heart rate (calorie burn!!) plus weight lifting (burns calories at rest!!) and a change in your eating habits will be the best way to get the pounds off.
What To Do In The Gym
–High Intensity cardio sessions lasting about 30-40minutes
[Start with 1 minute intervals with 1 minute breaks. Choose any piece of cardio equipment and go as fast and as hard as you can for one minute, then take a one minute break. Repeat this cycle for 30-40 minutes. Make sure you’re absolutely pushing yourself to your MAX for each working minute)
-Multiple muscle group movements: squats, pushups, burpees, jumping jacks, bicep curl to shoulder press, squat to press, pull-ups, lunges. Pick a weight that’s challenging for 12-15 repetitions. If you feel that you can do 20 reps, raise the weight!!
What Not To Waste Your Time On
–Steady State Cardio (same intensity/speed for the entire time)
This eats valuable muscle mass which slows your metabolism. If you want to shed the pounds, you’re going to want a fast metabolism. Muscle mass is the secret to getting your metabolism to be Speedy Gonzalez.
-Crunches: They don’t burn calories and they do not make your belly go anywhere. Also, you cannot spot reduce.
Your body is going to lose weight from wherever it damn well pleases. You are literally wasting valuable time in the gym by doing crunches and you are getting nowhere fast. Believe me. You can do one million crunches a day and your belly is not going to change. Take the 30 minutes of “ab work” and head to the weight room. Your belly will thank you for it!
-Any other “spot reducing” machines
You know those thigh machines? And you can either push them in or push them out? STOP DOING THEM NOW. Just like with crunches, they don’t burn calories, mostly because they don’t keep your heart rate high. Also, some food for thought: what happens to a muscle when you lift weights? It grows! If you have a weight loss goal, trying to build muscle in your inner and outer thigh and NOT keeping your heart rate high is just going to grow those muscles making you look BIGGER! You cannot spot reduce!! So, again, you’re wasting your time trying to focus on small little muscle groups like abs, inner thigh, outter thigh, upper back, and under arm. Those pesky problem areas will go away with high intensity cardio, the right diet, and total body weight lifting movements.
If You Want To Build Muscle
[Girls, you probably are used to saying this as “toning”. Toning isn’t real. It’s not a term recognized in the world of exercise science because it is not a physiological response to exercise. It doesn’t happen. The cute little world of “toning” is really the physiological response of BUILDING MUSCLE. I am fully aware of what you want to look like when you say that you want to “look toned”, but you are, indeed, going to use the exact same method that a man would use to build muscle. And guess what? You’re not going to look like a “man” or “get bulky” because your body doesn’t produce enough testosterone. Most of you will not believe me and you will continue to follow “toning” exercises but my mission in life to break women of this terribly incorrect thought process.]
What To Do In The Gym
High Intensity Interval Training: Different than above, but same concept! You’re going to go faster than ever before, for less time. Aim to complete 15 seconds of ALL OUT INTENSITY, followed by a 90 second break. If you feel that you could have pushed faster and longer than 15 seconds, you didn’t go fast enough 🙂 Don’t feel tied to the treadmill, you can do this on a Spin bike, the stair climber, or the elliptical, but my pick of poison is the treadmill!
Pick Up Heavier Weights: Aim for a weight that you can only complete 8-10 repetitions. You can now start isolating individual muscle groups and performing single joint exercises such as bicep curls,quad extension, hamstring curls, tricep extensions, and so on. Continue to incorporate squats, lunges, pushups, pull ups and deadlifts!
If your body composition is lower, and you are no longer in a weight loss phase, you can spruce up your ab routine by adding postural stabilization movements and twisting motions into your workouts. Your abs are meant to keep your posture and also are responsible for rotating motions. That means, any motion that requires you to twist and rotate your midsection engages your abs. Ever wonder why you’re abs are sore after shoveling or raking? Try to mimic these movements in the gym by doing exercises such as woodchops, cable torso twists, andstability ball knee tucks– just to name a few!
This is not an exhaustive list or post. There are countless other goals that anyone may (and should!) have, but these are the two goals I focused on because they are predominantly what my clients’ goals are and what we focus on. There are also countless other exercises and cardio options for each list, but I just wanted to name a few!
If you have any other questions about your goals or how to get there, send me
an email at firstname.lastname@example.org