No matter where you are on your fitness journey, it is easy to get wrapped up in the common misconception of workouts only being effective if we essentially have to be dragged off the gym floor...
I hear it all the time, "Wow, that workout really kicked my ass!" or "I could barely walk for a week!" as if it is a badge that should be worn with pride. This may surprise a few people, but most of your workouts should actually have you feeling better when you walk out of the gym than when you walked in. Wait, what? Working out isn't supposed to put you in a constant state of soreness and fatigue? Yep, you heard it right. Smart training is supposed to make you feel good.
Don't get me wrong – burning muscles, heavy breathing, and sweat are all integral parts of any successful program, but grueling workouts are only one small piece to the puzzle in regards to achieving results and staying injury free in the long term.
A smart and effective training program can be broken down into five major parts: Consistency, intelligent programming, fun, mindfulness, and intensity. Let's look at each one in more detail:
Consistency: This one is pretty self-explanatory and the MOST important part of a successful fitness program. If you continuously show up and move your body, you’ll be well on your way to results.
Intelligent Programming: Essentially, this means making sure your workouts make sense for your goals. For example, if your goal is to lose fat, but you are only doing cardio, that’s not the right program for you because strength training(muscle) is essential for maximum fat loss - along with a good diet, of course. The good news is if you have general fitness goals - lose fat, gain muscle, feel better - your program should look something like this: a few days of strength training, a few days of interval or circuit training, some mobility work, and some REST. Don’t sleep on rest (haha - get it) – this could definitely be its own category so I want to make sure it is not grazed over. Rest not only includes getting ample sleep on a daily basis, but rest days also allow your body to recover from this stress and come back stronger.
Fun: Fun is both an underrated and underutilized part of a successful training program. Are you enjoying your training or does it always feel like work? If the latter is true, you’ll want to switch some things up. What forms of exercise do you love to do? What sports do you enjoy playing? Do you have a workout partner that makes exercise more enjoyable? Don’t get this twisted – training is going to be tough at times, but if you are constantly feeling beat up, tired, and dreading your next workout, there's a high likelihood that you are not going to stick with it in the long term.
Mindfulness: In other words, focus. When you are in the gym, it’s necessary to stay present and focused on the task at hand. What is the goal workout you are trying to accomplish? What is the goal of the specific exercise you are completing? How challenging is the weight you are using? Are you using the best possible form for effectiveness and injury prevention? More often than not, we see people just going through the motions in the gym, and while that is absolutely better than sitting on your butt, the addition of this level of detail will most certainly give your training a boost.
Intensity: There is a reason this concept is saved for last - and it's not because it's the least important. While training intensity is a major factor in achieving results, it should only be added once the other pieces are in place. Here's why:
Intensity without consistency = lack of results and high chance of injury
Intensity without intelligent programming = lack of results and high chance of injury
Intensity without fun = lack of results because there’s a good chance you won’t stay consistent - because training sucks
Intensity without mindfulness = can lead to short term results, but comes with a very high chance of injury
See my point? Intensity is a good thing and an absolute necessity if you are looking to achieve high levels of health and fitness. That said, it only becomes your friend once you have the other principles in place to go along with it.
It is when you can get each of these components working together that you will achieve results that last a lifetime.
Not sure where to start? At Heat, we have designed our program with all of these pieces in mind, along with expert staff, to help you stay accountable toward your goals. Not a member yet? Check us out at heatstudios.com.