Archive for the tag - schedule

You Get 1,440 Minutes Each Day.

Let’s take a moment to put things in perspective.

AxaAv9mCEAE7fLt.jpg_largeConsider this number: 1,440.

It’s a relatively big number.

If you had 1,440 oranges, you could make 41 gallons of orange juice. If it were dollars, you could buy enough gasoline to drive my car the distance of New York City to Sydney, Australia. If you were 1,440 years old, you would have lived to see Alboin, king of Longobarden, poisoned by his wife in the year 573.

So now consider this: There are 1,440 minutes in each day.

Though time has a way of flying, that’s a lot of minutes. Obviously, each of us can (and will) occupy those minutes with the things that are important to us – like work, family, friends and our various commitments. There’s grocery shopping, hair cuts and doctor appointments. Our schedules are undoubtedly tight.

Lastly, consider that this number: 20.

It’s a tiny number, unassuming in its size. Compared to 1,440, 20 almost disappears. But 20 also happens to be the number of minutes of moderate intensity daily exercise recommended by the government.

Of the things important to us, surely our health is somewhere on the list. And so surely all of us can set aside just 20 of our 1,440 minutes to honor our bodies with the movement they crave. After all, a 20 minute workout sure as hell beats a 0 minute workout.

How to Split Your Workout.

A “workout program split” refers to how you divide your workout routine to train different muscles on different days of the week.

In general, there are three types of workout splits to consider. They include:

  • Full body workouts
  • Upper/lower body workouts
  • Split body workouts

Each of these splits can work well, but it’s important to understand the pros and cons.

Full Body Workouts

With a full body workout, you train each muscle group each day that you’re at the gym. It ensures that you hit each muscle group frequently, while maintaining a number of rest days. It’s effective and efficient, and great for people with busy schedules or that are just starting out.

A full body workout schedule might look something like this:

  • Monday: Full body
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: Full body
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: Full body
  • Saturday: Off
  • Sunday: Off

Because each muscle group is trained each time you hit the gym, you get a powerful metabolic response from your workout. If your goal is to stay or become lean, a full body workout can definitely help you achieve it.

If you do opt for full body workouts, you’ll probably include many compound exercises like squats, bench presses and dead lifts. These exercises work many different muscle group at once, and are thus well-suited for a full body workout routine. After all, you don’t want to spend your entire day at the gym.

Upper/Lower Split

If you’re a more experienced exerciser and are looking to spend a little more time on each muscle group, the upper/lower split is a good option. With four workout days, it’s a larger gym commitment – and so it’s not necessarily the best option for beginners.

In a nutshell, you’ll work the entire upper body on one day. And then the entire lower body on the next day. Then, you’ll take a day off to rest and recover.

Your upper/lower split workout schedule will probably look like this:

  • Monday: Upper body
  • Tuesday: Lower body
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Upper body
  • Friday: Lower body
  • Saturday: Off
  • Sunday: Off

Because this workout split allows more time for each muscle group, you’ll be able to include specific isolation exercises if there are certain muscles that you’d like worked. You can hit each muscle group deeper and harder, and so it can yield enhanced results versus a total body workout.

Unfortunately, it also means more time at the gym – and so it’s not for everyone. Moreover, if you have a poor recovery system, it may result in more bodily stress than your central nervous system can handle.

The Split Body Workout

With a split body workout, you’ll train just one or two muscle groups each time you hit the gym. Because each workout session is very focused, this split is very concentrated and time consuming. It’s certainly not for beginners and is often utilized by body builders or fitness professionals. Though it’s the workout split that I use, it’s something that I worked up to.

The split body workout schedule might look like this:

  • Monday: Chest and triceps
  • Tuesday: Back and biceps
  • Wednesday: Legs
  • Thursday: Shoulders
  • Friday: Calves/core
  • Saturday: Off
  • Sunday: Off

Because you’re only working one or two muscle groups each day, you won’t get the same metabolic response from a full body workout. The workout won’t burn the same amount of calories, but it can definitely yield fantastic results for the more seasoned exerciser.

Of course, it means five or six workout days per week – which isn’t realistic or sustainable for most people. Also, because so much time is spent exercising, it’s very easy for overtraining to develop.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, each of the three splits offers unique advantages and disadvantages. In general, I’d recommend total body workouts for beginners, and then eventually upper/lower body splits for more experienced individuals. If you’re really looking to take things to the next level, the split body workout is an option for some exercisers.

Workout Frequency: How Often is Too Often?

When it comes to workout frequency, more isn't always better.

This morning, I received an email from a blog buddy named Virak who is looking to change his life and release a large amount of excess weight. He’s been going to the gym a lot – and asked me a question that is fairly common: When it comes to exercise, how often is too often?

Like so many things fitness-related, the answer varies from person to person.

Virak is new to his gym routine, and for that reason, I’d advise him to be very modest in his gym commitments. As I’ve said before, getting into shape is much like running a marathon. You wouldn’t start a marathon by sprinting for the first mile. In the same way, diving into a very intense and very time-consuming workout routine almost always results in burnout. I recommend that new exercisers make an initiation commitment of a few days per week for 30 or 45 minutes. Over time, the duration and frequency of exercise can be increased.

So, I’d define “too often” as anything that isn’t sustainable.

We all have busy schedules, and a lot of other commitments besides exercise. Sure, exercise is important – but be realistic with your workout schedule.

The absolute limit for recreational exercise is generally defined as 90 minutes a day (including any warm-ups and stretching), 6 days a week. Longer workouts, thanks to cortisol, often cannibalize results. And, everyone – and everybody – needs at least one day of rest.

Keep in mind, longer workouts aren’t necessarily better workouts. I’ve seen many people spend a lot of time at the gym, but do very little. Most people can get an amazing workout in a short amount of time. It’s really quality and not just quantity.

Moreover, pay attention to muscle soreness. If a muscle is sore from a previous workout, don’t exercise it! Wait until it has fully healed. For this reason, it often makes sense to exercise different muscles on different days. For example, you might be exercising your chest while your legs are sore from a previous workout.

And of course, you can still do other physical activities – like going for walks, playing sports, etc. – in addition to your workout. After you exercise, you don’t need to spend the rest of the day on the coach.

Congratulations, Virak, on your motivation to change your life and your body. We’re all here to support you.

How to Make Exercise a Habit.

Consistency is key when it comes to exercise; it’s absolutely essential to habitualize your workouts, and thus avoid the see-saw roller coaster that so many exercisers experience.

Can you relate to the experience of working out for a week, and then skipping a day that turns into a week that becomes a month? Before you know it, your entire program is derailed and your fitness goals go out the door. If any of that resonates with you, here are a few helpful tips to make exercise habit:

  1. If you exercise in the morning, lay out your gym outfit before bed. Mentally, it sets you up for exercise in the morning – and it’s less fumbling that you’ll have to do when the alarm goes off in the AM.
  2. Find an exercise program that you enjoy. Relatively speaking anyway. I don’t enjoy sprinting on the treadmill, but I do enjoy it more than cycling. Maybe swimming is your cup of tea. Or maybe it’s rowing, or kayaking. Maybe you’d rather take a gymnastics class than lift weights. Or do yoga. If it’s something that you like, you’re more likely to stick to it.
  3. Create a schedule. Set dates and times for your workout. Plot it out on a calendar, and hold yourself to it. Otherwise you may put it off until you “don’t have the energy” to exercise. For example, I get up at 5:30 AM during the week to exercise.
  4. Get a workout buddy. If you know you are meeting someone at the gym, it’s harder to skip out. It’s letting yourself down AND standing up a friend. Simple idea, but it works.
  5. Commit appropriately. Most importantly, don’t take a bigger workout bite than you can chew. I see so many well-intentioned fitness enthusiasts burn themselves out because they go from no gym time to 10 hours a week. Be realistic, and build up slowly over time. There’s nothing wrong (and a lot right) with starting small – whatever that means for you.
  6. Don’t skip scheduled workout days. One day easily becomes two, and so forth and so on. Don’t slide down that slippery slope. If you are scheduled to workout on a given day, stick to it. Of course, build rest days into your schedule, too. That’s very different than skipping.
  7. Find a time that works for you. As I mentioned, I exercise in the morning. Many people exercise after work. Figure out what works with your other commitments and aligns with your body’s energy.
  8. Take the first step. When you wake up, put your feet on the floor. The hardest step is the first one. Take it!

And fear not, once exercise becomes a habit, it’s automatic. Though I’ve used many of these tips myself, exercise isn’t a choice for me. When I wake up, I don’t ask myself, “Should I workout today?” I just get up and do it. It’s non-negotiable. And that’s that.

Is habitualizing exercise a challenge for you? Tell me about it in the comments below. What tips do you have?