Week 2 of Fitness February: What Should I include in my Workout

Workout and Fitness Tips for FebruaryWe are officially on week two of Fitness February! That means we have only have 3 more weeks to solidify our tips and tricks to a healthier life. Last week, we talked about establishing our fitness goals. We used four different goals as examples: building muscle, losing weight, building muscle and losing weight, and even a goal that requires you to just get your body moving. Within these four goals, there is a lot of information about what you should eat, how much water you should drink, even what exercises you should be completing. All of these factors are impacted by your overall goal and in this blog, we are going to talk about what we have to incorporate into our routines based on what our goals are.

Goal #1 To build muscle: When it comes to building muscle we talked about how important it is to slowly increase your weight over time and how you should be doing compound and isolation exercises. To refresh your memory, compound exercises are ones that target multiple muscles at the same time and isolation exercises are the exact opposite, they target one muscle at a time. Now while both of these factors are important, we left out a few major keys in muscle building. The first habit you should get into when trying to build muscle is to begin every workout with activation exercises. These are exercises that essential “wake up” your muscles. They tell your muscles that it is time to put in the work and essentially prepare them for your exercises. In addition to the wake up call that they give, activation exercises also act as a stretch to your muscles. By setting aside time before your workout to do activation exercises you are preparing your body for some heavy lifting and ultimately preventing you from injuries. Some activation exercises can be push ups, body weight squats, glut bridges, kick backs, basically any exercise that can be completed with solely body weight and nothing additional. However, resistance bands are an exception, by adding resistance you are going to activate the muscles further and faster without the heavy weight shock; like I stated before this is not mandatory however it is beneficial. Activation exercises are an important warm up for any heavy lifting session much like stretching is a staple to close out your workout. During a heavy session, your muscles have endured a lot of stress that in a day or so will lead to muscle soreness. By stretching after, and even before, your workout you are actually increasing you blood flow which helps promote faster healing. If you have ever lifted heavy weight, you may know that it comes with occasionally muscle stiffness, after a tough session your legs or arms may feel really tight and that is another wonder that stretching can help.

Goal #2 To lose weight: This goal is not as complex as building muscle due to the fact that you are not implicating heavyweight repeatedly causing intense stress. While activation exercises won’t hurt you, they are aiding more in muscle awakening than fat burning. One thing that it is important for you to do when it comes to trying to burn fat is stretching. If you are trying to lose weight cardio is going to be your best friend and an essential pre-workout for cardio is a deep stretch. Chances are your cardio sessions are going to include running or walking (if they don’t, that is okay too) and stretching is essential for warming up not just your muscles but your body as a whole. Cardio takes a toll on the entirety of the body, not just the muscles but the heart, bones, and even lungs. Cardio can be an intense form of exercise that increases your heart rate and your breathing, however over time your body will adapt to the intensity. The more cardio that you do the healthier your heart grows, alongside the rest of your body.

Goal #3 To build muscle and lose weight: Much like our previous blog, when it comes to this goal you are going to want to combine both of the information given between goal #1 and #2. It is important to implicate proper stretching before cardio, as well as after a heavy lifting session. Not to mention you are going to want to prepare your muscles with activation exercises. Now while we spoke of all these ways and more, there is something new that you can add into your routine and that is called a super set. For those who are new to working out there are two things called reps and sets. Reps are the number amount of times you are going to complete an exercise, for example you can do 10 squats and that would be labeled at 10 reps of squats. Sets are defined as the amount of rounds you do your reps. Back to our example, let’s say you do 3 rounds of 10 squats giving you a total of 30 squats, that can be labeled as 3 sets of 10 reps. Okay, so now that we understand what a rep and what a set is…what is a super set? A super set is typically practiced on your last set and it is where you do not count how many reps you are completing, instead you perform the exercise motion until you can not do any more. By working your muscles in this manner you are doing something called hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is the act of doing a higher amount of reps in order to build up the muscles at a greater level. Internally you are actually putting more strain on the muscles, in a good way if done correctly, leading to an increase in muscle fibers. The more muscle fibers that you create, the bigger and stronger your muscles will get.

Goal #4 just to keep your body moving: It is always a good feeling to jump out of bed and get right into working out. Setting the tone for your day on a high note is always important and that is what moving your body can do. If you want to avoid building muscle and or losing weight, then that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise. There are so many ways to get your body moving throughout the day; whether that is walking, running, practicing yoga, stretching, pilates, or any other activity that gets your body moving that you enjoy. Depending on what method you chose will depend on what you will want to complete before. However, staples in any form of exercise are stretching before and after. You want to be sure that your muscles know that it is time to put in the work, instead of surprising them with a 2-mile run, which can lead to some serious injuries. Another important aspect when it comes to exercising is to stay hydrated. This tip will be universal for all forms of exercise since our bodies thrive off of water and the majority of the population tend to choose sugary, high calorie drinks instead. So during your fitness journey swap out your calories-filled beverages for water. Carry around a bottle with you at all times, this will make you far more likely to finish it by the end of your day. As for the amount of water, that varies on the intensity of your workout, someone who sweats more during a workout will need more than someone who doesn’t sweat at all. A good rule of thumb that is said is to drink half of your weight in ounces. If that becomes easy for you, then try stepping it up to more.

It is always important to check with your physician before making any drastic dietary or fitness changes. All of the information stated is for informational purposes. Do not substitute any of this information for medical advice. Next week we are going to take about ways to make exercising more fun and enjoyable. We understand that some people do not enjoy working out so we think it is important to find ways to fall in love with doing things that are good for your body.

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