Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Biggest Mistake You're Making in the Gym

When you walk into any fitness center, where do you see the most people? Most likely they're all crowded around the treadmills, stationary bikes and ellipticals. The common misconception is that you can achieve the body that you want and get in great shape by spending half an hour to an hour doing "cardio."

Day after day, thousands of people slave away on the cardio machines, many of whom are watching Gossip Girls or reading a book.

Look, as long as you're getting your butt off of the couch, I'm happy for you. Really. My goal, however, is to help you maximize your time in the gym. If you are one of these people who fits the description above, I'm willing to bet you haven't really seen the results you've wanted.

I'm not really a fan of steady-state cardio sessions. If you like to go for a long run every once in a while, that's great, but it shouldn't be the only thing you're doing in the gym.

Don't be like these guys...
If you want a more shredded and resilient physique, though, then you need to do the following: interval training and weight training. That's it. That's the secret sauce. Someone who is "fit" should be ready to take on any task at hand. He should be fast, strong, and powerful. Fitness is reading Game of Thrones on the elliptical for forty five minutes.

Interval training is one of the most effective ways to build lean body mass and improve your overall athleticism. There are countless different types of intervals, but here are some suggestions (you can do these with any activity, whether it be rowing, burpees, running, etc.):
  1. 10 rounds of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off (work up to decreasing the rest time as you improve)
  2. 4 rounds of 1 minute of work, 2 minutes of rest
  3. 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds of rest (called a "Tabata" interval)
These are a few of my favorites.

Strength training is important and necessary for...everyone. Yep. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Everyone should get stronger. Besides, being strong is awesome.

Let's say you're moving into a new apartment, and you need to move heavy boxes up the stairs. Strength training will prepare you for damn near everything. I can't really think of one situation in which being stronger isn't helpful.

You're not only strengthening your muscles with weight training, though--you're also strengthening your tendons, your bones and your ligaments, making you more resilient. If you want to avoid broken bones and osteoporosis (which I imagine you would), then you need to lift weights.

I'm certainly not telling you to quit your steady state cardio. I know that some people love a leisurely run. I think a great program is one that makes you well-rounded. If you want to become fitter and more resilient, then strength training and sprints should be a part of your regular routine. Step off of the elliptical and pick up some dumbbells.

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