There are many factors involved in weight loss and actually your diet and your training are only one part of that.
While the IIFYM (If It Fits in Your Macros) crowd will tell us that the only thing that matters is calories, this is actually a drastic oversimplification. Try telling that to someone who has hypothyroidism, for instance, and you’ll likely get a slap.
Hypothyroidism is a condition that causes a change in the number of thyroid hormones T3 and T4. These regulate weight loss among other things and as a result, those who suffer from the condition end up gaining more weight than others while at the same time feeling more tired.
And the thing is, we all have differing hormonal balances. You don’t need to have hypothyroidism or another condition to be someone who finds it harder to shift weight.
Your metabolism has a big role in how your body reacts to training and dieting and so it’s important to make sure that it’s ticking away and you’re burning as many calories as possible throughout the day.
Unfortunately, several things can cause our metabolisms to slow down. Lack of activity is one, of course, but so too is age, weight gain and stress.
So how do you kick your metabolism back into gear?
When you wake up in the morning after a long sleep, you’re in a fasted state with low blood sugar and you’ll be high in cortisol. In this state you’ll actually burn more calories and thus many people will try and maintain it as long as possible by not eating anything until lunch.
This is a mistake however, as this fasted state also slows down our metabolism. It’s not until you put some food in your system that your body wakes up and things start kicking in – you begin burning those calories for fuel, which in turn sends a signal to the brain that you’ve eaten and this perks you up and prevents you from snacking throughout the day. It also raises your metabolism.
Many experts including author Tim Ferriss recommend eating 30 grams of protein 30 seconds after waking up for the full effects.
If you’re trying to burn calories and all you’re doing is running, then you’re missing an important component. Lifting weights is actually fantastic for increasing your metabolism and especially when you use the big compound lifts like bench press, squat and deadlift. The reason for this is that using muscle requires a lot of energy and once you’ve built up your muscle, it takes energy just to maintain it.
Also highly effective is “HIIT.” This is High Intensity Interval Training which essentially means alternating between periods of sprinting/high exertion and periods of relatively lesser activity like walking or jogging.
This combination puts you in an anaerobic state which uses up all the glucose in your blood stream and thereby puts your body in a fat burning mode throughout the rest of the day. This is sometimes called the “after-burn effect.”
Here’s some important news for all those doing sit-ups , they’re pretty bad for your lower back and you should definitely consider switching to a different exercise, so read on:
Fitness experts are now advising against doing too many sit-ups for risk of back injury.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Stuart McGill, a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, says sit-ups put hundreds of pounds of compressive force on the spine. This pressure combined with the repeated flexing motion of a sit-up can squeeze spinal discs and possibly lead to herniation.
Others are catching on. The Journal reports that an editorial in a paper covering the U.S. Navy has called for taking sit-ups out of annual fitness tests, and the Canadian Armed Forces has already done away with them. The creator of the P90X workout also says he no longer does sit-ups.
What to do instead of sit-ups? Experts recommend the plank pose, which works out core muscles but puts less harmful pressure on the lower back.
One type of exercise that will improve your abdominal core strength and stability are plank exercises. When performed properly, they will not only improve the muscles supporting the spine and lower body, but also develop the arms, shoulders and glutes.
Many people that don’t exercise might wonder why they need a strong abdominal core. A strong core not only gives you a better erect posture, but it also makes doing simple everyday tasks a lot easier, like carrying groceries in from the car, or a full laundry basket, or toting around a 15-pound toddler, or vacuuming, or …. you get the idea.
The Basic Plank
The starting position for this exercise is the same as it is for a push-up – your body in a straight line (like a straight plank of wood) with your hands and feet shoulder-width apart.
Next, squeeze your glutes (buttocks) to stabilize the front half of your body facing the floor.
Be sure your head is in line with your back by looking at the floor about a foot in front of your hands. This takes the pressure off of your neck.
Hold this position for 20 seconds when first starting out. As you get more comfortable holding this position, gradually increase the amount of time without compromising your form or breathing.
There are several variations to the basic plank. Three popular ones are the:
The starting position for this exercise is basically the same as it is for the basic plank, except your forearms are supporting your weight instead of your hands. Keep to the form by ensuring your hands are pointing forward and are shoulder-width apart. Hold for 20 seconds or as long as you can.
This variation also initially uses the basic starting position, but with one twist – you are supporting your lower body on your knees instead of your feet. The knee plank is a great exercise to do if you have some lower back problems or when the basic plank hurts your back. Hold time is the same as it is for the other plank exercises.
The side plank is a great exercise designed to work the obliques and abdominal side muscles. The starting position is you on your side supported by the hand of one arm and your feet together. Your body should be in line at an incline from your feet to your head. Variations of the side plank that increase the level of difficulty include raising the non-supporting arm and leg. If you have a hard time holding the side plank position, try crossing your non-supporting leg in front of you for additional support. Hold for 20 seconds or as long as you can and then switch sides.
The beauty of planks is that they require no equipment and can be done just about anywhere, making them a great exercise to do while away from home or the gym.
As we touched on in your introduction, exercising too much can come from an emotional and physical addiction, or from simply overtraining.
And unfortunately, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. That is the situation with the physical stress that you put on your body will work out.
Do not get us wrong. Your body needs exercise for you to live a long, healthy life. When you stress your muscles and expend moderate to intense levels of physical exertion, your body begins to heal stronger and healthier after that workout is over. This is a simple physiological process that allows human beings to adapt to adverse conditions.
And at one level it is very healthy. But unfortunately, some fitness fans get caught up in the process, either through addiction or accidentally.
Rhabdomyolysis is a physical disorder where your muscles begin to break down. Instead of repairing themselves stronger and healthier, they release the natural components that they are composed of. Your muscle cell membranes are damaged, as is those infected muscles’ ability to produce energy.
This is a disorder that is frequently associated with CrossFit training. But make no mistake about it. This debilitating and physically crushing impairment can come about if you exercise too hard, using any particular fitness regimen.
The list of heart problems shown above is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the dangers of overexercising are concerned. Mental and emotional damage can also occur. Those who become addicted to working out can suffer from an incorrect perception of themselves, their bodies and the world around them.
This it leads to problems with relationships at home and at work, and often times an inability to function as a “normal” member of society. From the brain to the body, inside and out, the dangers of overtraining are widely known. How do you know if you may be putting your health and life at jeopardy when it comes to physical fitness? Let’s find out.
Understanding that overdoing it in the gym or with your fitness program is a great start to keeping yourself strong and healthy. But knowledge is not enough. You have to take smart action based on that knowledge. The first thing you need to know is if indeed you are exercising too much. If any of the following 10 signs seem familiar to you, you just may be addicted to exercise, or accidentally overdoing it.
1 – You exercise for emotional reasons, not physical ones.
Your body releases “feel good” chemicals during periods of physical stress. This includes when you work out. For some, this may be the only area of their life where they feel successful. This could lead you to workout in response to emotional triggers. And if you answer your feelings with exercise too frequently, you suffer the physical and mental risks discussed in the previous chapter.
2 – You feel wiped out instead of vitalized.
The proper amount of exercise should leave you feeling challenged and tested, but alert and energized as well. The old adage “no pain, no gain” is not healthy, and neither are you if you always work out to the point of exhaustion.
3 – You catch colds and flus easily.
This is a classic symptom of someone who exercises way too much. What happens is, you beat down your immune system. You are training so frequently, your body’s defense system cannot keep up. When a cold, flu or virus comes along, your weakened immunity against infection means that you get sick quickly, and it takes you longer than normal to get better.
4 – Your sleep patterns are not normal.
The stress you cause your body and mind when you push yourself too hard can definitely affect how much sleep you get. In some, the negative impact of overtraining can cause the desire to sleep forever. In others, the inability to fall to sleep is a sign that they are exercising too frequently.
5 – You have a short temper.
When your body is over-stressed, over-trained and over-worked, your brain starts to give you signals that you need to slow down. When you do not respond by lowering the frequency and intensity of your workouts, an inclination for hair-trigger emotional outbursts can be the result.
6 – Your muscles always feel sore, for days on end.
Proper exercising benefits your body through a tear-down and repair cycle. That is why you should never train the same muscle group on back-to-back days. If you feel sore all the time, this could be due to over-training.
7 – You exercise when you are tired, or even sick.
Your body will tell you when you should and should not exercise, sleep or engage in any other activity, if you just listen to it. Never exercise when you are physically sick or exhausted. Your body is in no shape to take the physical stress exercise delivers.
8 – You suffer from a guilty complex when you do not workout daily.
If you skip a workout every now and then, do not beat yourself up. And if you are suffering from pangs of guilt and anxiety because you do not work out 7 days a week, you are probably over-training yourself.
9 – Your self-esteem is attached to how often you workout.
You should never judge your day or your life as bad or good based on how much you exercise. This is where dangerous addiction can begin to develop, as you treat your feelings of low self-worth with more exercise.
10 – You arrange your life around exercise, rather than the other way around.
Do you arrange and cancel work meetings, social outings and other life experiences around your workout regimen? To some extent, this is just dedication. But when you take it too far, your coworkers, friends and family members will let you know that you are probably exercising too often.
Did you identify any warning signs that you may be doing your body more harm than good because of your exercise? If so, it is important that you know the reason why you are overexercising. It is only then that you can take the proper steps to regain control over a smart and healthy workout program.