Folks, I think you'll all agree with me that we have had an amazing and mild winter. Now that this winter is officially over, we can look forward to walking up and down the beach during the summer 2012! It seems as though summer has even already started. If you are planning on getting back into that bathing suit that you love so much you need to start now! Imagine the disaster if you wait too long and end up wearing that less flattering bathing suit because you didn't have the time to get the results you wanted. Here are the concepts that will help get you ready for summer:
Move your body. Aerobic exercise is a great way to burn calories and get lean. There are two forms of aerobic exercise: impact and non- impact. Impact aerobics include activities such as running, walking, step aerobics, and stair climbing. Non- impact aerobics include biking, elliptical trainer, and rowing. I recommend doing a variety of both. You burn a tremendous amount of calories during impact aerobics. However, over time, performing only impact aerobics can cause stress to the joints. Healthy individuals should be able to operate between 60-90 percent of their Maximum Heart Rate. People with health problems would need to consult with their doctor before beginning an aerobic exercise program.
Interval training is an advanced form of aerobic exercise in which the exerciser alternates between lower intensities and higher intensities (lower heart rate and higher heart rate). By doing this, the exerciser can tap into both carbohydrate stores as well as fat stores for fuel and achieve higher calorie burn as well as fat burn! It's a great way to get lean. While this is an exceptional way to get fit, it is not as well suited for beginning exercisers. Another way to tap into fat stores for fuel is by doing low level post- workout cardio. This involves the exerciser doing 20-30 minutes of low level cardio after having done an hour of resistance training. In this scenario, the body has already started to deplete its glycogen stores and now turns to fat as a primary fuel source. And speaking of resistance training….
Push your body. Performing resistance training on a regular basis is one of the best ways to build muscle and strength, speed metabolism, and burn a significant amount of calories. I am a strong believer that we need to train the entire body with resistance: lower body, upper body, and core. By training the entire body, we create symmetry and balance. After all, who wants a bulky upper body and two twigs for legs? Training the entire body can also prevent injury caused by muscular imbalance and, along with flexibility training, can also help to correct postural imbalances. Resistance training programs should be rotated on a regular basis to insure that the body does not start to adapt to any given set of exercises. Once this happen, a plateau can set in making it very difficult to achieve new results. Variety is king when it comes to resistance training, as is proper from and technique. A great way to ensure that you are getting both is by hiring a qualified personal trainer.
Fuel your body. Without question, the most important factor in achieving you your beach body is proper nutrition. Sadly, we cannot get there by slamming down the Big Macs, pizza, and French fries. Care should be taken to eat smaller meals frequently throughout the day, every three to four hours. This should equate to about five to six meals per day. Each meal should consist of fairly consistent portions of lean proteins, fibrous carbohydrates, and complex starchy carbohydrates. A great example for an afternoon meal would be a grilled salmon fillet, steamed broccoli, and half of a sweet potato. It is always a good idea to stay away from anything that has been bleached or overly processed such as white rice, white pasta, or white bread. Stick to your healthier whole grain sources, and you will be covering your bases.
Rest your body. With all this work that you will be doing, it is very important to get adequate rest and recovery time. The best way to achieve this is by getting a good seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Without this recovery period, your body cannot adapt to the increased stress that has been placed on it and an adverse effect can take place. Bottom line, get your Z's!
By following these principles, your body will undoubtedly experience some positive physical changes. But it does take time, commitment, and patience. That is why I encourage you to not wait. Do it now. Come June, you will be thanking yourself as you parade along the beach under many watchful and appreciative eyes. I'm sure I will be one of them!
Michael Elder has been working as a fitness professional in Chicago for the last thirteen years. He comes from a background in gymnastics and is certified as a personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). He can be contacted directly through his website, www.MichaelElder.com.