Four Fitness Secrets of a Personal Trainer
Complex diet plans and workout routines have conditioned our brains to believe that getting our body into top shape is an exceptionally complicated process. Surely you’ve read articles that go deep into the science behind physical fitness that involve discussions of metabolic rate, body fat percentages, and how muscle is formed.
While this does make for interesting reading for someone who wants an in-depth understanding of how it all works, it doesn’t do much more than create anxiety for those of us who simply want to stay in shape and look our best. In an effort to peel back the hype and get you some valuable information you can put to work now, we turned to a certified personal trainer with over 15 years of experience to pick her brain and reveal her top secrets for achieving optimum physical fitness.
Here’s what we learned:
While some exercises are better for targeting certain muscle groups or problem areas, this isn’t something you should spend a lot of time worrying about if your primary goal is to arrive at and maintain a healthy weight. Remember that to lose weight, your body must metabolize more calories per day than it consumes.
There are three ways to achieve this, eating less, exercising more, or a blend of the two. In general, a blend of the two is usually a good option because it doesn’t starve your body of the nutrients it needs to function and recover after workouts and won’t leave you craving food throughout the day like dieting alone.
Now for the part that many of us dread, the E-word! We know, the word exercise conjures up images of countless hours in a crowded gym listening to sweaty men grunt while waiting to use a contraption that looks like a table you would give birth on. Not something to look forward to, right?
Now for the good news! Reaching your fitness goals doesn’t have to involve anything like the above, nor does it have to match the stereotypical definition of exercise.
Staying active is all it takes! Anything that involves movement burns calories. This could mean walking, swimming, riding a bike, hiking, or even playing with your kids. It’s not the type of activity that will determine your success but the overall amount. Your goal for each day should be to achieve a balance between your caloric intake and burn if you want to maintain your current weight and create a daily deficit if you’re looking to drop a few pounds.
A fitness tracker is a great tool to monitor your progress and keep you accountable. Many of the newer smartphones have them built-in or you can opt for a popular brand like Fitbit where you can network with friends or others with similar goals to give yourself some extra motivation.
Firm and Tone
It’s a fact that muscle burns calories faster than fat so one of your primary goals should be to build muscle. We’re not talking about vein-popping, body-builder physiques here, just good, healthy muscle tone. Again, you can get creative here to avoid burnout. Anything that gets your muscles working will do the trick. Push-ups for the upper body with lunges and squats for the lower body are great starters that work several muscle groups at the same time.
Finally, stick with your plan and be consistent. Gradually increase your total activity level and intensity over time to keep your body from falling into a rut. Monitor your progress but try not to obsess over it. There’s no need to weigh yourself daily as this is one of the most common reasons people get frustrated and give up. Your weight will fluctuate daily based on the time of day, your level of hydration, and a number of other factors. Charting your weight AND measurements weekly is a far better indicator of your progress.
By keeping these four key principles in mind, you will avoid getting caught up in the details and stay on a productive path towards achieving your goals. If you need a little help, don’t be afraid to join a local group for motivation and support. Even if past efforts haven’t worked out the way that you had hoped, now is the time to change the way you think about fitness and get a fresh start!