Action Plan continued...
Translation: If you have more muscle, your body will burn more calories when you're not exercising -- when you're just sitting at work, for example.
Calisthenics such as push-ups or sit-ups qualify as strength training -- although very difficult for some, he says.
Those stretchy "resistance tubes" are "very worthwhile," says Florez. "We use them in all our programs. When we first saw those 10 years ago, we thought it was a new gimmick. But those are now some of the most popular tools -- they're portable, and they take away any excuses. They're great for traveling, very portable."
Handheld weights are also popular. "But you must learn the correct techniques," Fichera tells WebMD. "I've seen people join clubs and waste time doing sets that don't accomplish anything. Learning correct techniques prevents injuries and generates results. It's paramount to getting results."
Also, you need to define your goals -- if you want a fitness program to simply burn fat or sculpt a hot body. To get results of any sort, it's important to understand technique, rather than just do multiple sets, he says. "I start clients with one basic exercise per major muscle group -- chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps -- one set for first week, then two."
Set a plan of progression. "Five-pound dumbbells might work now, but two months from now, they won't provide any burn because you're no longer stimulating muscle tissue, so you no longer get results," says Fichera. "You have to increase the resistance, use slightly heavier weights."
The Long Haul
To help you stay motivated and get the best results, here's their advice:
- Create distractions for aerobic workouts. VCRs, TVs, sports radios, tiny CD players -- they all exist for a reason. Distractions are fine, as long as you maintain a good walking or running intensity. Don't get lulled into a slow pace that won't do you much good.
- Make your strength training workouts "meditative," Fichera adds. "It helps to visualize each muscle. If you can block out problems, get into the moment, get rid of the chatter in your mind, then it becomes more relaxing, more enjoyable."
- Plan your fitness program for the afternoon for maximum benefit. "Your body's core temperature in the morning has yet to reach its peak level," he says. "When you go out at 7 a.m., your body's still cold, even if you did a warm-up, and especially if you're deconditioned."
- Convince your company to hire a personal trainer for a few group lessons. "Have someone come in once a month, give you some really 'actionable' advice you can take away and do on your own," Florez says. "We do this a lot, and people love it."
- Hire your own personal trainer, who can develop a very specific fitness program for you to follow. Plan on meeting with your trainer periodically to update your program.