It’s easy to get in the habit of doing the same old gym routine. Perhaps like me, you were shown some exercises back in the 90’s by a crazy muay thai instructor and you just kept doing them.
You too thought that 1000 sit ups a day was the best way to flat abs. But a few years and a stiff back later it’s clear there might be a better way.
In this post I want to give you an updated version on the best way to train to lose bodyfat, tone up and most importantly keep your body healthy.
These guidelines are based on how our lifestyles are now; sedentary, stressful and so over committed that we’re always tight for time.
1. Warm up – to improve your posture and reduce the risk of injury
We spend loads of time sitting, with some Brits spending as much as 14 hours a day parked firmly on their behind.
Even if this isn’t you, chances are you’ve sat in the car on the way to the gym. So the warm up needs to get you out of sitting mode and into ‘beast mode’ ready for your workout. A few tips for your warm up:
2. Train your core – for flatter abs and less back pain
Sure we want flat, toned abs. But good core training also needs to build the muscles round your midsection to protect your spine.
Now, you probably won’t care about this now. It’s not until you’ve been hit by a episode of debilitating back pain that it becomes important. So for now,it’s ok to do core exercises for the aesthetic effects and know that we’ve snuck in some protective benefits too.
3. Lift weights for strong, toned muscles
It’s pretty widely accepted that lifting weights is good for you, both physically and mentally. We do it to boost your metabolism along with strengthening and toning your muscles. A couple of pointers for lifting:
4. Complete a finisher – to burn calories and reduce body fat
This is where my old boxing instructor would make us run for what seemed like hours. And this was just the warm up! Fortunately we know better now. And while running at a steady pace is OK, if you don’t have all the time in the world your time might be better spent on intervals; a few bursts of hard effort interspirsed with periods of recovey.
You can do a finisher on the bike, treadmill or cross trainer. But we prefer to use more interesting tools like a sled push, battling ropes, boxing or med ball slams:
5. Cool down –to prevent damaging your reputation by passing out (Yep, been there)
This generally consists of lying on the floor reflecting on all your hard work and feeling smug. Oh, and while you’re there we may as well throw in a couple of stretches to look like we’re being productive.
The stretching also helps prevent well meaning people coming over and attempting to resuscitate you.
*Extra credit: knock back a recovery shake
This isn’t essential, but if you’re the sort of person who wants to get the most out of each workout then taking a protein shake right after your workout kick starts the muscular repair process. This isn’t to make the muscles grow in size. It’s to give them the building blocks they need to recover so they’re stronger for next time.
If you already exercise you likely already do some version of the above. Maybe your warm up is walking from the car to the gym door. Maybe your strength training is a couple of goes on a machine. And maybe your core training looks like a few token sit ups before you head off home.
If you wanted to step it up to the next level then maybe pick one thing from the checklist below and add it to your routine: