by Jeff Howerton
Here we are. With Nashville’s two winter months of perpetual darkness behind us, we continue our fitness journey into March, only to realize the weather remains a little too cold and too wet to take full advantage of exercising outdoors. Though our healthy, post-holiday eating has been consistent, we’re itching for exercise that will allow us to experience even more calorie burn and reach our goals quicker.
Cardiovascular exercise is a primary component in any fitness program, especially those whose goal is fat loss. Unfortunately, it’s also the most limited by weather and schedule. A sunny, mild day is the perfect time to be out for a walk or a jog, but how many of those do we see this time of year? For the lion’s share of March, we can always resort to the obvious alternative of a treadmill, stationery bike or elliptical. Other than that, we’re left to “tough out” the elements or get creative. One option is to exercise by DVD. There are many videos available that offer cardiovascular exercise at various levels of conditioning. These workouts can be done at home or on the road and give you the opportunity to keep moving despite the conditions outside.
A much easier-adapted part of fitness is resistance training, with its simplicity and short time commitment. While cardiovascular exercise benefits increase as duration of the activity increases, resistance exercise can be a constant set amount of time, offering benefits that running or walking cannot. Every successful workout program includes this kind of “weight lifting,” whether it’s done with weights, tubes, pulleys, bodyweight or just something around the house. When we apply resistance, we break down muscle, offering it the opportunity to grow back stronger (not necessarily bigger) and demand a higher calorie burn. As we’ve heard many times before, the majority of calories burned by our bodies each day is not the result of our daily activities, but is directly affected by the amount of lean muscle tissue we support. The more lean tissue, the greater daily calorie burn we achieve.
So, what are the main elements for a resistance program? The best strategy is to make sure the exercise regimen addresses every body muscle group. Begin with movements involving larger muscle groups (legs, back and chest) and work to smaller ones (shoulders, biceps and triceps). Also, alternating muscle groups through a circuit routine offers both rest for the fatigued muscle and better management of time.
Research exercises to target each muscle group and pay close attention to technique, so that work is effective and safe. Pain should NOT be a part of resistance training. When pain is experienced, STOP! At that point, reread directions or better yet, consult us for guidance. No workout program, at home, in the gym, or on the road, is beneficial if it isn’t done correctly.
Jeff Howerton is a trainer and owner of LEAN personal training, where he and his trainers work with clients to lose fat, develop lean muscle and implement strategies for healthier living. LEAN (615) 279-1900 or [email protected].