The other day I overheard someone talking about frequency of workouts and it got me thinking. Do people who come to the gym more frequently get better results? It’s not that intensity, exercise programming, duration, or any of that stuff isn’t important, but this question just relates to frequency.
While I don’t have any formal evidence to back up the theory and I haven’t found a study that correlates the two, I think there’s truth to the idea.
Although this may seem obvious to many, I’m not sure I had given frequency alone much thought. I started thinking about my clients, their frequency visiting the fitness center either working with me or on their own, and their adherence to better nutrition and their results and I believe there’s a correlation.
While there are a fair number of people that believe they can crank away for an hour on the elliptical machine and that somehow will cancel out the fast food burger or hot fudge sundae they’ll eat on the way home. I believe that there are as many or more people who stick to their guns and eat better because they don’t want to cancel out the benefits of their workout.
Without hard evidence to back it up, I’d guess at the following possible reasons:
1. The obvious reason would suggest that those who are at the gym more often are just naturally more interested in their health. They’ve built exercise into their lifestyle and better eating goes hand in hand.
2. They have a clear and attainable goal in mind and a solid plan to reach that goal. This is one that a lot of people miss. People often have fuzzy goals, unrealistic goals that set them up for failure, or no plan to really reach their goal and they go about their exercise haphazardly.
3. They follow better programming, incorporating high and low intensity cardio work, strength training with free weights, relying less on machines, using bodyweight exercises, experimenting with different equipment, taking appropriate recovery days, and working on mobility. Frequency has required them to try new things and be more creative to stay interested in exercise.
4. Frequency at the fitntess center has raised their awareness of their movement throughout the day. They’re more conscious about staying active rather than sitting in a chair all day. In addition to their time at the fitness center, they’ve started thinking about how they can do something standing that might normally be done sitting.
5. They think more about their nutrition and take steps to eat better rather than undo their progress. Frequency of exercise has spilled over to the kitchen and they’ve started fueling their bodies better with quality proteins, veggies, and healthy fats.
So, if you’re focused on weight loss as a primary goal, go to the fitness center more frequently. Sure, you could do 3 sixty minute workouts per week. But, you just might get better overall results with 6 thirty minute workouts.
I was talking with someone recently about tracking activity and calories. After explaining what would need to happen to get the desired results, this was the response:
“I’m not going to do that. I’m fine and that’s just not going to happen”.
OK. That’s your choice, but you’re going to have to accept the reality that it will take longer to reach your goals. My old boss used to say, “you get what you measure”. If you don’t have a way to measure your progress, you’ll never know when or how long it will take to get where you’re going. You’re just guessing.
Information gives you a realistic picture of how much weight you can expect to lose and how long it will take to accomplish the goal. Here are four ways you can stay on track toward your goals.
1. Be clear. Before you begin tracking the progress toward your goal, you’ve got to have a good goal. Your goal must be crystal clear. You should be able to create a picture of what your goal looks like. A goal like “lose weight” is junk. It’s meaningless. Think differently. How will your life be different when you’ve lost 10, 20, or whatever number of pounds you want to lose? What will you do with your life that you aren’t able to do today? If you really want it, find a picture of your goal and post it on your bathroom mirror. Each day when you brush your teeth you’ll see your goal.
2. Know how much you need to eat and keep track of what you eat. Everything, no exceptions. Yes, it’s boring and a pain in the butt. But you’ll have a much better idea of what you eat, when you eat, and why you eat. These are important things to know. Without this info, everything else is just a guess. You’ll probably be surprised at the number of calories you’re taking in, as long as you’re being truthful with yourself. You’ll also find that you eat certain foods in certain situations. If you’re a data geek like me, you can use a device like a BodyMedia FIT to take control and achieve your weight loss goals by knowing how much you burn. If you’re a member of LifeStyles Fitness Center, you have access to a great tool called DotFIT that can help you with this part of the process.
3. Get a heart rate monitor. This little device will tell you if you’re really working or if you’re just kidding yourself. I use mine religiously. There are times when I might think I’m working hard and I’ll check my monitor, only to realize that I’ve got a long ways to go. Here’s an article I wrote about how to select a heart rate monitor.
4. Have someone you’re accountable to. That’s where a good trainer can help you. We’ll ask questions, observe, develop plans, and push you to try things you might not do on your own. Ultimately, our goal is to help you reach your goal.
Put these four things in place and you’ll be on your way to reaching your own goals.
As an exercise junkie, I’ve often wondered why people don’t have the same passion. The reality is that for many people, exercise is associated with pain and boredom.
How many times have you seen and heard the phrase “no pain no gain”? How about “Pain is weakness leaving the body”? I saw a tag line on a friend’s e-mail that said “You can be sore tomorrow or sorry tomorrow”.
Each one of these indicates torture to the non-exerciser. If you’d rather avoid torture, here’s the best advice I can provide.
Do something that you enjoy.
That’s right, it’s that easy. Exercise doesn’t have to be limited to plodding endless miles on a treadmill (yuck!). Find something that makes you feel alive. Something that gives you a goal to work toward and offers a sense of accomplishment. Something that you can immerse yourself in and make part of your life.
Here’s a list of the things I can think of off the top of my head that I’ve done this year that I would consider exercise:
A couple of times, for a little variety, I even ran on the treadmill.
Aside from the actual exercise part of each of these activites, I experienced moments I’ll never forget.
I stood 6 feet from a herd of deer while riding my mountain bike, neither of us wanting to give up the trail. I watched the sunrise from 11,000 feet above sea level. I got caught in wicked thunderstorms and sleet storms. I witnessed the absolute silence of the winter woods after a big snowfall. I watched coyotes, eagles, and hawks when they didn’t realize anyone was watching. I waded through waist deep water fully clothed at one time and waist deep snow at another. I listened to the laughter of children and the look of amazement as they accomplished goals they never imagined. I felt the pride of accomplishment in reaching my own goals.
Each one of these experiences helped me be a better person, a better father, added years to my life, put a smile on my face and the faces of others around me, and yes, each was a form of exercise.
None of these required any special skills that anyone else couldn’t obtain. Just a level of commitment and creativity that many aren’t willing to pursue. I’m just an ordinary guy who doesn’t want to live an ordinary life.
Each was exercise. None of them were boring or torturous. Every time I went to the fitness center I was there with a purpose in mind. I knew that every squat was going to help me on the mountain bike or make it easier to haul a 55 lb. backpack up a mountain. Every rep had a purpose.
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Think outside the box and find what you enjoy. And do it, often!