Beat the Holiday Bulge: Ten Tips to Maximize Your Workout
The holidays are a busy time. Between work, shopping and parties, squeezing in gym time to work off last night's cocktails and Christmas cookies can be a challenge. Many people make common mistakes at the gym that can halt progress. Here are 10 tips to maximize your holiday workout.
1. Do strength training before a cardio workout. When you're done with cardio, your body doesn't have the right kind of energy left for resistance training.
2. If you do only cardio, do it first thing in the morning, when your body hasn't yet stored carbs to use for energy. Do cardio when you wake up and you'll burn fat before breakfast.
3. Know proper techniques. Each exercise has strict rules and structure. And it's not true that the more weight you lift, the more muscles you'll develop. In fact, you may be using the wrong muscles for the job. Understand the rules of your workout and you'll reach your goals faster without damaging your body in the long-term.
4. To build muscle, do high reps with a challenging weight. To build big, impressive muscles, focus on achieving high numbers of reps at a weight that's going to push you, and focus on increasing your endurance.
5. Don't work out the same muscles two days in a row. After strength training, give your muscles at least 48 hours to recover before exercising those muscles again. Recovery is just as important as the workout itself.
6. Different forms of cardio achieve different goals. If cardio is your warm-up before strength training, do it for at least eight to 10 minutes. If you do cardio simply to keep fit, you’ll want to challenge your heart. Don’t go at a steady pace; instead, play around with the incline and speed on your treadmill. This way your heart will be put through its paces.
7. Diet makes your workout more effective. If you’re serious about your workout, be serious about your diet as well. Don’t justify a donut with a mile on the treadmill, at least not too often.
8. Before the end of your workout, spend about 10 minutes taking your intensity levels down. In a cardio session, this is called the cool-down phase. In weight training, you rarely see it -- but a cool-down is important.
9. Stretch after exercise to maintain flexibility. A full-body stretching session is recommended, and five to seven minutes is all it takes. Stretching helps to flush lactic acid from your muscles, which is what causes soreness and tightness. Since your muscles are already warm after exercise, stretching is made easier.
10. Keep at it! The workout doesn’t end when you’ve met your weight-loss or muscle-building goals. This is where the actual work begins: Maintenance. Through it all, stay disciplined, focused and committed to exercise as a lifestyle.
Ken Hunt is the owner of New York and Miami’s Steel Gym, an AFI-certified trainer, and a fitness expert. Ken’s expert advice has been featured in The New York Times, Compete, Horizon Barcelona, La Cosmopolatina, and Men’s Fitness, as well as on DailyBurn and SiriusXM and LA Talk Radio.
He also travels around the country lecturing on physical fitness. He is currently finishing a book, "The Hunt for Fitness," and hosts the radio talk show The Hunt for Fitness on WWRL 1600 AM Fridays at 10 p.m. EST.
Under Ken’s management, Steel Gym has been named two years in a row the number-one gym in New York by the American Fitness Institute, awarded two years in a row the New York Award for Physical Fitness Facilities, and named one of the top five gyms in the U.S. by Muscle & Fitness magazine. He has received the Talk of the Town Award three years in a row for Outstanding Customer Service. Steel Gym is located at 146 West 23rd Street in Manhattan.
Call 212-352-9876, e-mail info@SteelGym.com, or visit SteelGym.com for more information. Follow Steel Gym at facebook.com/SteelGymNYC and twitter.com/SteelGym.