Find answers to your questions and create your ideal fitness regimen.
Whether you are watching TV, scrolling through social media, or talking to a coworker, you can be bombarded with other people's advice and opinions about the ideal gym regimen. It's so confusing and overwhelming—especially when what is right for someone else may not be the right fit for you.
Below are four of the most common questions that people ask when getting back into a gym routine. Follow these research-backed and evidence-based guidelines to help you find your footing and succeed in and out of the gym on your terms.
Exercise every day is not required. Nor is it even recommended! If you are new to working out, shoot for three days a week. If it's hard to keep you out of the gym, settle for five days a week and two active rest days. You do not need to necessarily get caught up in the amount of days you exercise, however. If this feels more overwhelming to you than not, think more about the type of exercise you plan to perform on the days you do work out. I'm all about quality over quantity any day.
You also do not need to spend hours on the treadmill to get in a good workout. Depending on your exercise of choice and permitting schedule, anywhere from 30-60 minutes usually will fit the bill for a robust workout. When performing HIIT exercises, you can keep your routine short. The high intensity, quick movements will work your body fast and hard. The endurance cardio, like running, biking, and swimming may require a little bit more time from you. Same goes for weight lifting as you should allow time to rest between sets. But you really don't need to push past 60 minutes unless you are training for a marathon or a competition.
Stretch both before and after your workouts. But these pre- and post-workout movements should look different. When warming your body up, start with dynamic stretches that consist of big movements that increase your range of motion for the coming exercises. Keep your body moving. Once you finish your workout, then you can settle into your static stretches. Hold poses and lean into the muscles for a deep release.
Soreness inhibits day-to-day activities. Sitting down or reaching for the car door can feel like impossible tasks to complete without groaning or gasping in pain. The stretching from above will help! Ice is also your friend. When returning to exercise after some time, your muscles will grumble and yell. Calm them down by icing them for 15-minute intervals to reduce the inflammation. Also, be sure you are eating after your workouts and sleeping enough during the night to replenish your body with the nutrition and rest it needs to repair and build your body back up.
The intense soreness will lessen over time. As your body gets used to the exercises you put it through, it won't retaliate with such agonizing soreness. However, you don't want to lose the soreness altogether. Some soreness is good. It means you challenged yourself yesterday and your muscles will build themselves back up for a stronger tomorrow.
There is not one perfect calorie count that fits every athlete's diet. But do remember that exercise burns calories and speeds up your metabolism to burn calories faster throughout the rest of the day and into the next. Burning calories creates the calorie deficit that people talk about as necessary to losing weight. HOWEVER, you need to replace the nutrients that you sweat out and refuel your body for future muscle repair and energy.
The answer: instead of focusing on eating more or less, first focus on eating the right types of foods and at the right times. Consume lots of protein and veggies. Healthy carbs like fruits and whole grains after cardio will stabilize your energy levels. Avoiding the empty-calorie snacks and sugary desserts will cut down on the unnecessary calories. Remember to eat within 30 minutes of exercising to best replenish your body and to eat when you feel hungry. Now that you are moving more, you are burning more calories and may require a couple healthy snack intervals in between meal times.