You might believe that you need to beat yourself up in the gym, but that doesn’t have to be true!
We all know that just being at the gym doesn’t mean that you’ll see the results you want. When we don’t see the results, we tend to push harder - going to the gym more, lengthening our working out, increasing the intensity of our training, etc.
But there is another option. You can work smarter, not harder, to get you the results you want.
Let’s explore the best exercises for lasting results where you don’t have to live in the gym!
When You Go to the Gym
If you have been frustrated by not seeing results from your workouts, or even if you are an athlete, you will find the following information interesting.
A meta-analysis of 43 studies had really shocking results! 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 great outcomes. These are High Interval Intensity Training (HIIT) and strength training. Besides these, walking and lower intensity exercises can also bring huge benefits.
High Interval Intensity Training (HIIT)
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves alternating 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 as well.
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 your workout.
When we say strength training many people immediately think about lifting weights. While lifting is a great way to build strength, 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 in the privacy of your own home.
What about Walking and Lower intensity workouts?
Simply walking can be an amazing way to get blood sugar under better control and to burn fat. If you think about our ancestors, they moved way more than we do! They did not have comfortable couches to sink into and watch TV. They did not have computers to sit at for work all day long. Spending more of your day moving at a slow pace can be an amazing thing for seeing the changes you want to see and simply feeling better!
I also want to add a quick discussion for those of you that are STRESSED! If you are feeling like you have a lot of stress in your life, intense workouts like HIIT can actually ADD MORE STRESS, which is likely not helpful for you! If this is resonating with you walking or doing something like yoga can be a great fit to actually bring stress levels down.
I have seen women who are stressed transition from intense workouts to simply walking and actually start to notice changes in their body composition for the first time, so don't underestimate the power of these basic movements.
A Special Note for Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
If you have 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 into your 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 as a root cause of their PCOS.
Strength training helps stabilize blood sugar as well. 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. In addition, it increases the metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories at rest.
If you have PCOS you might want to be a little careful with endurance training. Excess workouts of this nature can increase cortisol and suppress thyroid functioning. Since cortisol and thyroid issues are two of the root causes of PCOS, it is important to keep them under control.
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. If you are a woman with PCOS, you don't have to excessively push yourself in the gym or diet excessively to lose weight. I'm here to tell you that there is a better way. Check out my FREE class for women with PCOS who want to get to the root of their symptoms and address them naturally without just being given a pill. Often when you get your symptoms under control you end up losing the weight.