Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Obama Workout

One of the main reasons people give for not meeting their fitness goals is lack of free time. On the other hand, it was reported that the day after he won the US election, Barack Obama was in the gym at 5am. Now, while I appreciate we all have busy lives, do you really think you're busier than a president?

Training success for busy people comes down to two things - making your health a priority , and using your time efficiently. This is were we can help. At Aegis Training we are used to training people with stressful jobs and very little free time, sometimes as little as two or three half-hour time slots a week. There is no time for pointless exercises or wasted reps, workouts need to be short, sharp and effective. If this sounds like you , here are a few tips for getting the most bang for your buck at every session.

1 - Perform a productive warm-up: In other words don't just plod away on the treadmill for a bit or, even worse, skip the warm-up altogether. See it as an opportunity to improve your posture (making you look slimmer and more confident) and relieve any aches and pains which inevitably come from sitting slouched over a keyboard all day. When under stress we tend to tense up around the shoulders making this situation even worse. Spend 5 minutes foam rolling the outer and inner thigh, stretching the hip flexors and calves and performing some dynamic mobility drills for the hips and shoulders(to be covered in next weeks post). Don't wait till you're too injured to train to take your warm-up seriously! Time allotted - 5minutes

2 - Strength Training: The most productive thing you can do in the gym, training with weights will get you slim and toned far faster than any amount of long, boring cardio. Many of my clients who have had years of frustrating, poor results from endless "fatburning" cardio, have been amazed at the weight loss that results from actually challenging your body with a properly designed weights program.
When stuck for time you need to focus on the most productive exercises and do full body routines. You should include one lower body exercise such as the squat, deadlift or lunge, one upper body push such as the bench press or standing shoulder press , and one upper body pull such as the lat pulldown or cable row. And don't be afraid of heavy weights with lower repetitions, avoid the pink dumbbells and try 3 sets of 4-6 reps with a challenging weight. There's no point being the most powerful person in the world if you're a wimp in the gym, is there?
Three exercises, your whole body trained! time allotted - 15 minutes

3 - Intelligent Cardio: if you've been paying attention you'll know I'm not a fan of long, slow , boring, unproductive aerobic training. If all you've been doing in the gym is jogging for half an hour, it's time to join us in the 21st century and use your time more wisely. The bottom line - work harder for less time. A good example of this is interval training -if you're training at a typical gym, hop on a bike, treadmill or rower and go as fast as you can for one minute, then slow right down and recover for a minute and repeat another 4 times.

This is one method, however an even better option would be to do some form of functional activity such dragging a sled , hitting a tyre with a sledgehammer or swinging a kettlebell (we do plenty of this at the Aegis Training studio). If you really want to test yourself try the tabata method with kettlebell swings. Simply perform as many swings as possible in 20 seconds rest for 10 seconds, and repeat another 7 times. This method, despite lasting only 4 minutes, has been shown to be more effective at improving cardiovascular fitness than an hour of low intensity jogging.

These activities don't lock your body into a fixed movement pattern like typical cardio equipment and so have far more functional carry-over to real life. They are also a great form of stress relief.

Once again, the mantra is keep it hard but brief.
Not only will this get you leaner and fitter faster, it's waaay less boring. Time allotted - 10minutes.

And there you have it. Finish of with a couple of quick stretches for tight areas (usually the pectorals, hip flexors and hamstrings) and you got a 30 minute workout that beats the hell out of what everyone else in the gym is doing. And you still have time to run the country!

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