In America, 50% of New Year's Resolutions are to exercise more. But just being at the gym doesn’t mean that you’ll see the results you want. There are some ways of exercising that will get you results faster.
Our culture is so focused on working hard to the point we feel like we have to beat ourselves up in the gym. However, with a little guidance we can work smarter rather than harder.
Let’s look at the “why” behind movement and explore the best exercises for lasting results!
When You Go to the Gym
There is no need to beat yourself up in the gym to get real results. In fact, working hard doesn’t always get the results we would expect.
There was a meta-analysis of 43 studies and the results were shocking! The studies followed overweight and obese people for 3-12 months. People in these studies worked out for 45 minutes 3-5 times a week. This resulted in an average of about 69 hours of exercise over the course of the study. Do you know how much the exercise group lost over that period of time? Only 2.2 lbs.!!! That’s a lot of work for very little results.
So, what specific exercises will get you the results you want? There are two types of workouts that have shown to have the best outcomes. These are High Interval Intensity Training (HIIT) and strength training.
High Interval Intensity Training (HIIT)
In High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) you alternate between short bursts of hard, intense exercise and a little lighter form of exercise. This may be running hard for five minutes followed by a walk or jog. It may be working with weights in this fashion.
The key is to push yourself hard, followed by a gentler form of movement. This type of workout results in more calories being burned after the exercise as well.
When we say strength training many people immediately think about lifting weights. This is a great way to build strength, but you can also build strength through other forms of resistance training.
Body weight training uses your own body weight and gravity. Things such as planks, pull ups, etc. would count as body weight training that takes little to no equipment. Another way to build strength is through resistance bands. This type of workout can be easily done outside the gym.
A Special Note for Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
For those with PCOS it is even more beneficial to choose the “right” type of exercise since certain types of exercise can help to stabilize your blood sugar. Insulin resistance is one of the main root causes of PCOS, so anything you can do to stabilize your blood sugar will be beneficial.
High Interval Intensity Training has been found to result in better blood sugar readings for up to three days after the exercise. When you exercise in this way, your cells need glucose for energy. So, your body pushes the glucose from the rest of your system and into the cells. The only group of people that I would encourage to start slowly with this type of training are those with a strong stress component.
Strength training also helps stabilize blood sugar. One study found that a 10% increase in muscle was associated with an 11% reduction in the risk of insulin resistance. This may be because using our muscles reduces the amount of glucose in our bloodstream, making the cells more sensitive to insulin. Strength training can also decrease the amount of testosterone found in women with PCOS. Strength training also increases the metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories at rest.
One type of exercise to be a little careful with is endurance training. Excess workouts of this nature can increase cortisol and suppress thyroid functioning.
For more information about this topic, check out this article.
Remember that movement doesn't have to be strenuous. Do yourself a favor and work smarter, not harder! And don’t forget to find joy in your movement, because honestly that is the most important type of movement!
P.S. The right type of exercise is especially important for women with PCOS. Many women with PCOS push themselves in the gym, diet excessively, and still can't lose those extra pounds. I'm here to tell you that there is a better way. Check out my FREE class for women with PCOS who want to lose weight without just being told to eat less and exercise more. (Sign up here.) You won't regret it!