With the holidays having come to a close and the beginning of 2017 now upon us, there has never been a more opportune time to take advantage of a clean slate and make 2017 the year that you achieve the goals that you’ve set out for yourself! I’m sure you have noticed the hoi polloi crowding the gym this past week. Although it’s AWESOME to see everyone coming in with a renewed vigor and readiness, it seems to die out all too quickly after only a couple weeks.
Maybe it’s because people don’t know what to do, or they get discouraged quickly from lack of results, or they are doing programs they hate but they think it will give them the best results. Whatever the reason may be, it seems like it is an all too common occurrence weeks into the new year. With that being said, I would like to bring in this New Year for you all by giving you four tips to jump start.
1.Get more bang for your buck and perform compound movements!
Most people’s resolutions coming into the new year usually involve altering their body composition. This means that maybe you are trying to work off the bit of weight you gained from all those tasty holiday cookies, trying to be proactive in working towards that summer body now instead two weeks beforehand, or even just wanting to feel better in your clothing when you go out.
To do this we will want to focus on big compound movements so that we can increase our metabolic rate. Simply put, burn more calories. Although there is a time and place for exercises such as bicep curls and calf raises, we should be putting more focus on multi-joint exercises like hip thrusts, squats, presses, etc. These compound movements utilize more muscle groups which means more metabolic stress.
Let's compare a bicep curl to squats. Which exercise do you think would burn more calories? Squats involve using multiple muscle groups while the bicep curl only uses one. Think about how much larger our legs are than our biceps. It takes more energy to push more mass and it will take more energy to repair larger muscles, such as our legs, than it will with smaller muscles, such as our biceps.
A study was conducted at the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Colorado State University to observe the energy expenditure, and subject metabolisms, after heavy resistance training. They found that after 90 minutes of strength training, which included large compound movements, the subject’s metabolic rate remained high for an extended period of time following the exercise bout. This shows that by utilizing bigger and heavier weights/movements in the gym, you will be able to retain an elevated metabolism (BURN MORE CALORIES) long after your workout has been finished.
APPLY IT: For those of us just beginning at the gym and aren’t sure what to do, try and start out with a squat, push, pull, hip hinge, and a core exercise. If you have had no prior experience training or lifting weights, start off on the machines. They are great for helping teach you to be proficient in the movement as they are built to only move in a predetermined path which is also good for reducing the likelihood of injury performing the movement incorrectly. Also performing these 5 movements will help you hit almost every one of your muscle groups because they are compound movements.
2. Abide by the SAID principle!
Most people think that training and exercising are one in the same. While both involve exerting yourself physically, training is exercising with the purpose of achieving a certain goal. Exercising is the act of being physically active with no goals. An example of this someone working toward completing an Iron Man. That person would be “training” in order to better perform come the day of the competition. Their program would have exercises and movements inclusive to anything that would carry over to the Iron Man. Someone who is exercising is working out with nothing really in mind. This would be people that come to play some pick-up games at the gym or go with their friends to a kick boxing class on a week night. For those of you whose resolution is to compete in a competition this year, or something that requires you to “train”, follow this principle!
The SAID principle is “Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands”. Training specificity is very important for those of you have plans possibly completing a Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, etc. If you are looking complete 100 km cycling race, you shouldn’t be doing tricep pushdowns or yoga as a main staple in your program. Although, there might be some merit for those in a program, you should be getting onto a bike at the gym or taking your bike out and performing exercises/movements that are specific to what will be required of you on the day of the event. Try to make sure your training similar to what you will be doing.
APPLY IT: If your goal is dunk a ball, focus on movements such as box jumps, depth jumps, plyometrics, perform strength training, etc. If your goal is to run a 5k or 10k, start running. Run on an incline or decline, vary the duration and frequencies of your runs, perform strength training, etc. Whatever your goals are, find the movements/exercises that will have the most carry over to your performance.
3. Do things that you find enjoyable!
Although this is more is anecdotal than it is backed by research, I think this is very important. I believe most people fail to continue on with their health and fitness goals is because they lack excitement and passion for it. You have to go out there and experiment with what works best for you. People all have different preferences for being active.
Some like to go down to the park with their friends and perform circuits with the Bluetooth speaker going off in the background. Some like to go cycling on the weekend early in the morning. Others just prefer to put their headphones and throw some heavy weights around. Or maybe they prefer all of the above. Maybe what you love won’t be optimal or lead to the fastest results, but it will keep you consistent. Consistency is key.
A majority of people stop after a couple weeks in because they don’t get excited about doing things that they were never excited about doing in the first place. They were mostly just excited about the end result in their head, rather than the process and journey that is supposed to lead up to it. So go out and do whatever it is that you feel is making you active and that is leading you to a healthier lifestyle. Whether it’s hiking at the local nature spot, running a few pick-up games at your gym, etc. as Shia Lebouf would say...Just do it!
APPLY IT: Grab a football, go down to the park with your buddies, and have them throw Hail Mary’s to you while you run sprints. Take a nice long jog at beach in the morning and enjoy the scenery while listening to your favorite workout playlist. Hike up to the top of a hill, with a steep incline, while wearing a weighted backpack. Jump rope in between your exercises at the gym to increase your heart rate and burn more calories. No rope, no problem. Do jumping jacks or step ups! These are all small things you can do in your own element so get creative!
I hope that these 3 small things can help keep you motivated throughout this second week of January. I have faith in you, but it's most important to have faith in yourself. I am looking forward to all 2017 is going to bring us and I hope you are as well!
Chandler, T. J., & Brown, L. E. (Eds.). (2008). Conditioning for strength and human performance. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Elliot, D. L., Goldberg, L., & Kuehl, K. S. (1992). Effect of resistance training on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 6(2), 77-81.
Melby, C. H. R. I. S. T. O. P. H. E. R., Scholl, C. Y. N. T. H. I. A., Edwards, G. L. E. N. D. A., & Bullough, R. I. C. H. A. R. D. (1993). Effect of acute resistance exercise on postexercise energy expenditure and resting metabolic rate. Journal of Applied Physiology, 75(4), 1847-1853.