Thursday, January 10, 2019

Working Out Your Exercise Schedule

The number of weekly recommended workout sessions can really add up.

With 5 or more periods of cardio, and 2 or 3 each of strength training, flexibility & motor skills for balance & agility, it's inevitable that you'll need to do more than one type of exercise on any given day.

To make the most of every session, know the right sequence to follow. A Western Colorado University study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise tested the variables & found definitive results.

First, on days when you're doing cardio, you should typically start with this workout, whatever aerobic activity you choose. You'll not only get the maximum benefits by doing it first, but you'll also warm up your body for the second exercise.

If strength training is also part of that day's plan, do it next. If you're piggy-backing all types of exercise, flexibility and motor skills should follow strength training, in whatever order you like.

The research found that this sequence had psychological as well as physical benefits.

However, experts add that it's fine to personalize these findings based on individual goals. For instance, if you need to focus on one type of exercise in particular, like flexibility to help with low back pain, start a multi-discipline session with that workout so that you're fresh when doing it. Or if building muscle is your top goal, start with strength training.

Flexibility is a Must at Every Age

Flexibility is a component of all types of movement -- from everyday activities to the most rigorous exercises. Being flexible helps you stay mobile and avoid injury.

Yet flexibility training often gets lost in the shuffle or pushed to the bottom of the list after cardio and strength training.

Its goal is to increase your range of motion -- how far you can reach when, for instance, you bend from side to side, or raise your arm overhead to grab an item from a high shelf.

Flexibility is best achieved through static stretching, which are stretches you ease into and hold for 10 to 30 seconds while inhaling and exhaling -- no bouncing, no holding your breath.

As you start a stretch, focus mentally on the muscles you're targeting. Extend just to the point of discomfort; you shouldn't feel any pain.

Here are three moves that target the lower body.

Why You Should Have a Small Snack After Every Workout

When you finish a workout, you fall into one of two camps: You're ravenous for food, or you shy away from it. But those in the latter group may need to rethink their fueling strategy, as it could be sabotaging your weight loss or fitness-related goals. (If you're in the former camp, though, here's how to handle post-workout cravings.)

There are various reasons for skipping food right after a workout. Some think doing so will ruin the work they just put in, while others simply don't think they have the appetite for it, says Heidi Skolnik, owner of Nutrition Conditioning. And that makes sense: Research shows that exercise—especially long or intense bouts of it—lowers the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin, and it can take up to three hours for your appetite to return to normal.

But if you don't eat ASAP, your appetite may knock you over the head as soon as it returns, says Skolnik. Plus, delaying when you eat slows down your recovery process, which could make it tough to give it your all the next time you hit the gym.

Thankfully, all you really need to do is down a small recovery snack, ideally within an hour of wrapping your workout. Skolnik says that's when your body is most receptive to muscle repair and glycogen replenishment (the carb stores your body pulls from for quick energy). It doesn't have to be a specially-formulated 600-calorie smoothie, either—something as simple as yogurt and a banana, an apple and a stick of cheese, or even eight ounces of chocolate milk can be enough to take the edge off, she adds. As long as it includes energy-restoring carbs and protein you need to kickstart the recovery process, you're good.

So, next time you're hemming and hawing about post-recovery fuel, make the caloric investment, says Skolnik. It'll maximize your sweat time, netting a greater payoff in the long run.