We’ve all dreamed of getting fit fast. However, most of us believe we’ll have to slog it out for months. And even then, we’ll still be panting if we climb more than a couple of flights of stairs.
The good news is that science is now looking carefully at the question of what makes us get fit the quickest. Professional sports and athletics are driving the interest. But the science benefits us all. We can all copy the training habits and regimes of the best in the world. Here’s what to do to improve your fitness as quickly as possible.
In 2011, scientists investigated the effect of long warm ups on exercise performance. Writing in Applied Physiology, they found that a long warmup actually impeded exercise performance. They compared a traditional 20 minute warm up of cycling to a short warm up that was more intense. They found that athletes who did shorter warm ups had better performance in their main workouts. In the study, those doing the shorter warm ups used sprints. But you can do any type of intense exercise that only lasts a few seconds. How about doing 20 jumping jacks as a warm up? Or what about some bodyweight squats? Both of these exercises will warm you up quickly without sapping energy from the rest of your workout.
Work Hard Right From The Start
You might think that you have to pace yourself during your workouts. But that, according to science, might be a myth. According to the College of New Jersey, those who went all out at the start of their workouts ended up burning more calories. The reason for this, apparently, is that intense exercise puts your body in an oxidative mode. Intense exercise flips a switch that forces your body to start drawing energy from stored fat.
Working hard from the start also makes sense from a psychological point of view. Getting the tough bits out of the way while you’re still fresh is a lot easier than when you’re tired.
Listen To Music
There have been a lot of studies done on the effect of music on exercise intensity. What’s interesting about music is that it creates a direct channel, straight to the amygdala. This region of the brain is responsible for most of our primal instincts. And directly stimulating it can lead to a reduction in perceived pain and effort. That’s why so many sports psychologists, like Dr. Karageorghis, recommend music. His best workout songs include Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 and Jai Ho by A. R. Rahman. Both of these are fast paced songs designed to get you in the mood for exercise.
Use The Elliptical
Elliptical machines are a staple of the gym. But most people put them in the same category as the treadmill. They’re not. There are many science-backed reasons why elliptical machines are actually a heck of a lot better. The main reason is that they increase the work done by your body for the same effort. According to one study, people’s pulses were higher when they used the elliptical compared to when they used the treadmill. Another study found that the elliptical was as effective as the Stairmaster at improving fitness. And, unlike the elliptical, the Stairmaster is grueling. Right now the advice is to vary the difficulty on the elliptical by changing the incline. Do 5 minutes on a steep incline, followed by 3 minutes off, and then repeat.
Always Go For The Latest Fitness Fads
You’ve probably noticed that your gym advertises a new and exciting class practically every month. But rather than see it as a gimmick, see it as another new way to mix up your routine. It might sound strange to advise somebody to try out each and every new fitness fad. But challenging your body in new ways is the key to busting through plateaus. Rachel Cosgrove, author and fitness expert, says that people should mix up their routines every month or so. If they stick with the same routine, month after month, their bodies will adapt, and their progress will slow. She suggests changing your workout every month. And if that means adopting the latest fitness fads, so be it.
For many people, losing weight is a significant challenge. But new evidence suggests that lifting heavy weights is actually an excellent way to achieve this. First off, lifting heavy helps to build lean muscle. Lean muscle then passively burns more calories than adipose tissue. Second, going heavy in the gym directly burns more energy than using lighter weights. According to Cosgrove, it boosts your metabolism.
Use Intense Cardio
Universities around the world have been getting excited about the idea that it might be possible to get fit with just 3 minutes of exercise a day. The University of New South Wales in Sydney wanted to know whether shorter bouts of exercise are better than longer ones. So they put it to the test. They recruited volunteers and split them into two groups. The first group did a regular cycling workout at a constant pace. The second group was instructed to do cycling sprint intervals. Their total exercise time was half that of the first group. The two groups were then tracked for the next 15 weeks to measure the effect on their weight. Even though they didn’t exercise for as long, the first group lost three times more weight.
It turns out that high-intensity training flips a switch in your body that causes it to burn more fat. It’s a win-win. High-intensity exercise is more interesting, more time efficient and gets you fit faster.
Swap Out A Cardio Session For A Strength Session
Recently, the University of Alabama conducted a study on weight loss. They wanted to find out which weight loss regime best-protected muscle. They compared an all cardio regime to a cardio and weights regime. Under the cardio regime, 92 percent of the weight loss was fat, 8 percent was muscle. Under the cardio and weights regime, 100 percent was fat.