By: Angela Fulgieri, Senior Experience & Wellbeing Program Director
“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow and transform”
Roy T. Bennett
We live in an age where everyone wants instant gratification. If you’ve spent any amount of time in the gym, you know it takes time to see results, but what can you do to change things up and see results quicker?
Change your eating habits. What matters even more than what you do in the gym, is what you do outside of it. Severe calorie restriction, fad diets, and eliminating food groups can be stressful and may actually hinder your ability to lose fat. Begin with small changes that you can incorporate into your lifestyle. A great place to start is by tracking what you eat. From there, you can see what you need to cut out of your diet. Stick to whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. And if you drink soda, fruit juices and energy drinks, switch to water. Water is vital to digestion and metabolism, so aim to drink at least 64 ounces of water per day.
Lift weights. Cardio is great for burning calories, but the minute you stop so does the calorie burn. Building muscle keeps your body burning fat all day long. Research also shows lifting heavy weight maintains bone density and can even build new bone which helps prevent osteoporosis.
Increase the intensity of your workouts. Not everyone has hours to spend in the gym, so increasing the intensity of your workout is a great way to change your body quicker without increasing time spent in the gym. To do this, add more weight, and less rest between sets.
Increase the frequency of your training. If you want to see results, you need to put in the work. Hitting the gym two times per week is not enough. Find time to squeeze in a workout at home or check your gym schedule for 30-minute express classes. Experienced instructors, like the ones we have at the YMCA, will guide you through an intense, short workout that will make the best use of that time. Classes like LesMills Sprint, LesMills CXWorx, and HIIT training are ideal.
Choose compound exercises over isolation exercises. Isolation exercises like biceps curls are great for toning muscle, but they are not going to get you the fastest results. Choosing exercises that involve more than one muscle group like squats, bench presses, and pull-ups will save you time in the gym by working more muscles at once.
Finally, don’t waste time! I feel it’s necessary to include this because I see so many people wasting time at the gym and then complaining they aren’t getting results they want. Working out with a friend is great as long as they do not want to spend the entire time socializing. If you are tempted to look at your phone between sets, leave it at home. If the equipment you need is being used, keep your heart rate up by working in exercises between sets. You won’t burn any calories standing around. It’s okay to change your plan or grab a jump rope while you wait!