By DAVE JACK | Moonshine Ink
New Year’s resolutions often are aimed at exercising more, eating healthier, and losing weight. One analysis from Strava, however, estimates that Americans are most likely to give up on their health resolutions as early as mid-January!
To create a proper resolution, consider how to set smart goals. Goals must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Stating you will “eat healthier, work out more, or lose weight” are not smart goals. Consider changing those statements to “I will work out five hours a week, every week; eat 1500-1,800 calories a day, every day; and lose 5 pounds within 30 days.”
Work Out Smarter Not Harder
As most of us have heard, consistency is the key to health and fitness success. This is achieved by managing your strength, cardio, and nutrition by day, week, month, and year. Balancing out how much effort is being put into your workouts each day will keep you on track weekly, monthly, and yearly. Going hard and fast for all your workouts to crush more work in less time is not the best way to optimize performance. To build a lean body, we must utilize fat as our primary source of energy. Fat burn is most efficient at lower intensity zones, so spending more time burning fat should be a priority. The key is to manage your capacities and volume in a week-by-week program in which you’re adapting your body to work through all its heart rate zones — spending 80% of the time below your aerobic threshold and only 20% above it.
Your aerobic threshold is the heart rate at which your body stops utilizing fat as its primary source of fuel and starts utilizing primarily carbohydrate/sugars. It is about 85% to 90% of your heart rate max, depending upon your metabolism. Working out with your heart rate above threshold for too long will ultimately lose your body’s ability to burn fat efficiently and inhibit you from putting the necessary effort into your workout the next day — and the day after that.
Get in the Zone
Interval training is the most efficient way to teach the body to adapt to burn more fat. Our bodies have five zones when it comes to heart rate interval training. Zones 1 through 3 are below threshold and zones 4 and 5 are above. Spending 80% of time in zones 1 through 3 will teach the body to build up its threshold because in these zones, it will learn to recover glucose (carbs/sugar) while burning fat. Working in zones 4 and 5 teaches the heart to be able to withstand added intensity so it can build its efficiency of consuming oxygen. This way, as your body can learn to consume more oxygen, it can work more efficiently in its below-threshold zones (1-3).
Furthermore, by doing shorter intervals above threshold, you create EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption), in which after the workout your body is trying to regulate heart rate back to resting rate and is utilizing more energy (calories) to do so. So, your total caloric deficit for the day is up and your metabolism is working better!
Set your goals in strength training around habits and consistency. Consider starting to work out with weights two to three days per week for 30 to 60 minutes each workout. Start by focusing on balance, stability, and core while practicing all your functional movements. Your primary functional movements are the squat, lunge, bend, push, and pull (horizontal and vertical). There are all sorts of progressions and regressions around the primary movements that can help for those with kinetic chain movement impairments. For example, don’t start barbell back squatting until you’ve mastered technique and used coached methods of proper regressions to account for overactive or underactive muscles working within the squat.
Be sure to incorporate all your muscle groups each week. Start with higher repetitions at lower weights for all the movements. Focus on proper muscle activation and don’t overdo it. One workout will not get you to your goals, but one injury will prevent you from making those goals happen.