There’s all kinds of information out there when it comes to getting fit. Unfortunately, some of the advice amount to no more than lies or well-intended but misleading information. However, if you’re serious about getting in shape
The Higher Intensity the Better
Lots of books, magazines, or health sites advise you to undergo a low intensity regimen so you can “burn more calories”. This is one of the biggest myths spread around so much that it’s gospel. Let’s think realistically for a moment, how can walking real fast burn more calories than running for the same amount of time? The low intensity myth is based on the fact that you can burn more calories the more oxygen is available. However, we’re not talking about total calories but calorie burning efficiency.
The more intense your cardiovascular workout the more calories you burn and the more weight you’ll lose. I think so many people give up on physical fitness programs because they’re dumbed down to think they shouldn’t push themselves too much. They get trapped in the doldrums, not seeing results, losing motivation and then quitting.
Go for an Hour
Another common health tip is “you should do at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise”. This is true but most people interpret it as “let’s not do anymore than 30 minutes.” Sure, it’s true that over-training can lead to fatigue and injury but do you honestly think the human body is so weak that it can’t stand any more than 30 minutes a day? The body can take much more punishment than you think. You need to be aware of your body but the fact is most people haven’t really exercised enough in their lives to really know their limits.
You Have Not Reached Your Limit
The first day of getting back in shape is always hell. My heart feels like it’s bursting and my legs feel like they’re about to give. I’m drained and sore after the session. It happens when you haven’t exercised intensely for the last couple of months. So what do I do the next day when I’m so sore that I can barely hobble around the house? I go back and do it again. Rinse and repeat the day after.
Sure, there’s a lingering soreness in my body and everyday I say to myself, “I need some rest”. However, I still manage to crank out the same amount of calories if not more and even up the intensity. Did you know that people usually max out at 70% of their strength? There’s some kind of psychological limit that kicks in and forces you to think you’ve reached your limit. It seems our mind tries to keep a reserve of strength that’s only mobilized for a real crisis. We’ve all heard the crazy stories of mothers lifting cars to save their children from being crushed or similar.
A lot of times when you workout hard, the first half turns out to be the hardest mentally and physically. Then the “second wind” kicks in and you cruise to your finish. Any good athlete has a good coach to thank. That’s because we need someone to constantly remove the mental limits we impose on ourselves. You don’t need a coach for a typical exercise program but any time you think you reached a limit just tell your brain, “stop lying to me” and focus on doing more. It works every time.
Forget Three Times a Week, How about Every Day!
Yeah, over-training is bad for your health. It leads to injury and lack of motivation and everything else that’s bad. It also takes way more than your typical workout to over train. For most casual workouts over-training is an impossibility. It’s something you worry about if you’re training like a professional athlete 24/7. It’s true that after an extended period of high-intensity exercise, the body accumulates all kinds of aches and pains that need to be healed with rest. Exercise is a controlled way to destroy body tissue such as muscles so they get rebuilt stronger. You don’t get an injury overnight. It happens after an extended period of stress. The more you exercise the more you get tuned in to what kinds of pains you can ignore and which ones to heed.
Why Punish Yourself?
There’s all kinds of reasons you want to punish yourself. Maybe you don’t want to do it forever but if you spend a couple months on a high intensity program the benefits will last you a lifetime. It’s always easy to regain previous fitness levels but pushing past that to new heights and increasing your athletic capacity always takes extra effort. If you really want quick results just go all out but not crazy. The experience of doing a high-intensity regimen will give you new levels of confidence and even help you hang on to your sanity if you do a lot of desk work.