4 Pro-Tips for a Successful Gym Session

You've found a great gym, and you've set aside the time to go, so you're definitely on track to achieve your fitness goals, right?

Not necessarily. Showing up is the first crucial step, but there are a number of mistakes that can derail your progress and set back your growth. To make sure that your gym sessions will be successful, keep these four key points in mind.

1. Focus: Do not go to the gym to socialize. Go to the gym to WORK!

Making friends at the gym is great; it’s fun to meet new people who are also interested in a healthy lifestyle, and it can serve as extra motivation to make gym-going a regular habit. Gym friends can help keep you on track, but only if you stay focused on your main reason for being there. Standing around discussing last night's game or next Saturday’s barbecue won’t do your body any favors, but it might deplete the valuable time you set aside for your workout.

Try to limit your socializing to a friendly smile or a “Hi” in passing until afteryou’ve finished with what you really came to do.

2. Have a plan: Make a schedule and routine that you can track and follow.

You wouldn’t set off on a road trip without a map, or try to assemble a piece of furniture without consulting the instructions. Similarly, you shouldn’t embark on a new fitness regimen without a plan to guide you.

A good routine will allow you to understand where you're seeing improvements, and where you need to work harder. Consult a fitness professional if you need help designing one that is customized to your specific goals.

3. Push yourself: If you’re not sweating or tired at the end of your workout, you didn't work hard enough.

Even the best routine in the world won’t bring you the results you want unless you also bring the effort in the gym! No matter what your goals are—losing weight, building muscle, gaining strength or improving stamina—it takes real work and exertion to see the physical changes you desire.

Don’t be afraid to push yourself, and don’t be afraid to sweat!

4. Seek expert advice: If you are inexperienced in the field of fitness, consult a professional, even if it is simply for friendly guidance.

When adopting a new routine, it’s a great idea to speak to a qualified fitness professional who can introduce you to new techniques and workouts, give you important feedback, and keep you on track to meet your goals.

You might decide to take advantage of their expertise through a personal training session, but even if you don’t, you will take away some helpful advice or direction.

Showing up is important, but it doesn’t guarantee success on its own. But these four key strategies will help make every minute in the gym count—and lead you to real, measurable fitness improvements.

How to Use your Heart Rate to Increase the Quality of Your Cardio Routine

 Heart Focused Cardio

A cardio workout provides a popular method for burning calories and increasing heart health. You can do cardio in a variety of different ways, from jumping rope to ellipticals or biking. Whether in the gym or jogging through the park, it's important to know how to get the most out of your cardio by calculating your target heart rate for your workout. 

We consulted the Mayo Clinic to find the latest guidelines. Check out these tips to keep you in the zone.

How to Calculate Your Maximum& Target Heart Rate

Maximum heart rate represents the maximum number of times your heart should beat per minute. Exceeding this maximum won't actually help you lose weight faster, but it can cause health-damaging stress to your heart and body.

Calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. For a 20-year old the maximum would be 200, and for a 35-year-old the maximum would be 185.

Your target heart rate zone will help you stay in the ideal range for the intensity of cardio workout you desire, whether low, medium, or high intensity. There are a number of steps required to find your target zone. After you have found your maximum heart rate (MHR), follow these steps.

  1. Resting heart rate (RHR) - count your beats per minute first thing in the morning while relaxing. The average adult will have numbers between 60 and 100.
  2. Heart rate reserve (HRR) - subtract your RHR from your MHR. (e.g. 185-85=100)
  3. Low range target - multiply your HRR by 70% (or .7). Add your RHR to this number.
  4. High range target - Multiply your HRR by 85% (or .85). Add your RHR to this number.

These high and low range numbers will represent your target heart rate range.

Low-Intensity Cardio Workouts

Low-intensity cardio workouts are often done over a longer period of time. Performing several intense workouts over a week may lessen muscles breakdown compared to a more intense cardio workout. Most low-intensity workouts are done at about 60-70% of MHR.

Medium-Intensity Workouts

Medium-intensity workouts are performed at 70-80% of your MHR. A compromise between high-level training and low-impact workouts, medium intensity cardio can fill that missing gap in your workout routine. 

High-Intensity Interval Training

A high-intensity cardio workout is definitely a calorie burner, but it's important to remember to combine proper measures of rest when training at this speed. High-intensity workouts should be performed at 80%of your MHR or above. Designed for short intervals, high-intensity cardio is often referred to as HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, combining 2 an4-minutete exercises with 1 minute resting periods.

Learn more about adding cardio into your workout routine, and get in touch with a personal trainer to start your workout journey! Professional trainers can help you customize your training to fit your individual fitness level and goals.  


Dumbbells vs Barbells: The Differences You Should Understand

Chances are you have no intention of gaining upper body strength so you can ring a bell. However dumbbells got their start from that very activity, and the training equipment used to practice bell ringing now lends its name to not only dumbbells, but barbells and kettlebells, too. A bell that doesn’t ring is silent—dumb—so using dumbbells meant your bell-ringing practice didn’t wake the neighbors. Dumbbells came first, but are they better than barbells? Not necessarily; three important concepts about the two free weights can help you decide which is right for you, and when. 

How Safe Are You? 

In the gym, you have to protect yourself from two things: 

  • Yourself
  • The equipment

If you do not know how to use free weights, and are determined not to ask for help (Psst! Ask for Help!) start with dumbbells. If you are working with a dumbbell and get in trouble, just drop it. 

Barbells require good balance, an appreciation of the weight, and good technique. You can get pinned under a barbell all too quickly. You have natural movement with a dumbbell that you cannot get in a barbell, since you can turn hands and flex wrists as needed. 

How Free Are the Free Weights? 

Dumbbells are independent of each other, one for each hand. This gives complete freedom of movement on either side of your axis of symmetry, so your left arm can rest while your right arm completes a curl, for example. A barbell, by contrast, requires coordinated movement by your left and right arms and your hands are in fixed positions. 

If you are training to recover from an injury, you may need to provide the injured side with more repetitions at smaller weight, something you cannot do with barbells. If you perform heavy, repetitive labor with your dominant hand (swinging a hammer, operating a drill press, lifting or pulling loads), a dumbbell can help you equalize strength in your non-dominant side. 

How Developed Are You? 

New to free weights? Dumbbells help even out discrepancies in leg and arm strengths. Dumbbells increase awareness of the weight—you depend entirely on one arm for control, and you move more muscle groups in positioning and holding the weight than with a barbell. 

Barbells for new lifters are also helpful, since you can tightly control the weights you add. Most dumbbells increase by 10-pound increments, while barbells can be changed by five pounds.   

Well along the way to fitness and bodybuilding? Barbells allow you to use heavier weights, engage your legs more, and perform power cleans and snatches. 

  • Do barbell exercises before dumbbell work, if you choose to do both
  • Use barbells for squats and deadlifts
  • Restrict explosive exercises to barbells, both for comfort and safety

As you increase weight, barbells tend to be more useful. In performing presses, for example, barbells are already positioned in the equipment, ready for lifting. Dumbbells may have to be lifted from the floor or a wall rack, adding strain and incorrect body positioning to your back. 

5 Tips for a Healthier Lunch at Work

Eating healthier is one of the best choices you can make for your overall health. However, with today’s busy lifestyles you may find it difficult to eat a healthy lunch while you’re at work. When it comes to eating healthier it isn’t something you can do part time it is a lifestyle change that affects every meal. With the following five tips you can make sure what you eat at work is every bit as healthy as what you eat at home. 

How to Stay Motivated Throughout a Workout Program

Setting a fitness goal is simple. Sticking to it, however, is a completely different story. So many people develop a workout routine but fail to keep up with it for more than a handful of sessions. Staying motivated when it feels like you aren't making any progress is tough. But if you are able to push through this initial slump, you'll be greatly rewarded with real results from all your hard work. Here are three ways to stay motivated when starting a workout routine.

Set Short Term Goals

It's great to set long-term goals for weight loss or your fitness performance. But when all you are doing is focusing on these long-term goals that are 6 months down the road or more, the mindset of "I'm never going to make it" quickly sets in. Or you might find yourself thinking, "It doesn't matter if I skip this one workout. I'll make up for it next time," but "next time" never comes.

Along with your long-term goals, set short-term goals that challenge you, but are achievable within two weeks. You might aim to do 15 push ups or jog a mile on the treadmill. Reaching your goals gives you a tremendous sense of accomplishment, motivating you to keep going. Once you've completed your short-term goal, set a new one to focus on. Our Fitness Fusion Classes are the perfect boost to get these short term goal mentality started!

Is There Such Thing as Overtraining?

If you are reading this, you are most probably doing your best to kill it in the gym. But, have you ever found yourself placing excessive demands on your body to the point that you experience fatigue for a few days or possibly several weeks.

Well, the fact is if you are hitting the gym for more than five hours a week, and training is becoming your borderline addiction even to the extent of harming your body, you are overtraining and it’s time to re-examine your goals.

What Is Overtraining?

Typical in most fitness activities, overtraining occurs when you carry out additional training than your body can recover from. A short-term overload, which can be managed within a few days, is referred to as overreaching. However, overreaching can result into overtraining if the athlete fails to allocate sufficient recovery time.

If you are in this position, you will most certainly require the assistance of a knowledgeable personal trainer to help you get your training back on track. In any case, it is vital that you listen to your body for any signs of overtraining.

Here is a list of some typical overtraining signs that you should be aware of.

You Have Insatiable Thirst

If you have an unquenchable thirst that coincides with your gym training session, there is a high chance that you are overtraining which is causing the body to be in a catabolic state. When your body is in a catabolic state, you become dehydrated, and thirst is one of the initial symptoms of dehydration. To challenge this sign, drink adequate water and have enough sleep.

Muscle Soreness

While muscle soreness is normal for a day or two following a workout, persistent soreness past the third day can be a sign that your muscles aren’t recovering which can harmfully impact on your muscle-building efforts. To prevent this, work out 45-75 minutes max and pay attention to your muscles.

Exercise leaves you Exhausted Than Energized

The core aim of exercising is to give your body an energy boost. If you are not getting that good endorphin rush after a workout, or you feel overly exhausted or sickly, it is time to reassess your training.

You Cannot See Results

Unbelievably, exercising excessively can essentially cause you to lose muscle and gain fat. This is because when you overtrain, your body generates little amounts of testosterone and instead produces high amounts of cortisol. This causes the body to increase both insulin resistance and fat deposition.

You Become Restless, Lose Focus, and Lack Motivation

If you perform many aerobic exercises, your sympathetic nervous system goes into override, causing restlessness and lack of focus, which can eventually lead to the lack of self-drive to perform any physical activity.

Overtraining is real, and once its sets in; it may take days, weeks, or months for your body to recover. If this happens, ensure that you take an unplanned break to allow adequate time for recovery.