Starting out at the gym can be a tad daunting, so we asked a personal trainer how you can get the most out of your sweat sessions.
Just switched from cardio to strength training? Don’t go gung ho with the heavy weights just yet. “Since you work against a high degree of resistance with weights, you create muscular tears throughout the body,” explains PT Amanda Moroney. “In the post-training window, you will expend more calories in an attempt to repair the tears, which essentially increases metabolic function. By increasing weights in a progressive manner, you will prevent your body from adapting and keep this process ignited by keeping the muscles challenged.” Got it.
This is a crucial tip for newbie gym goers. “The week before your period is when you use fat for fuel as opposed to muscle glycogen,” Amanda tells us. “As your carbs are not being depleted, dropping your carb intake for a few days and switching to low-intensity cardio and moderate-intensity weight training will allow you to tap into your fat stores more efficiently.”
“After a workout, you want to ingest high GI carbs and protein,” Amanda advises. “The faster releasing the carbs, the quicker the nutrients are shuttled into the muscle due to a spike in insulin. This helps with efficient protein synthesis so you will build lean muscle. Remember, the more lean muscle we carry, the quicker our metabolism revs naturally, which is a sure way to get results.” (Psst! We’ve got some deadly advice on post-workout eating here.)
Never track what you eat? Amanda reckons this is the most simple but effective stragegy for shifting weight. “It’s fool-proof way to look at how much you are actually eating.” she explains. “When you are asked to recall your food intake for the day, you remember the bigger meals like breakfast, food and dinner but often forget the muffin here and the square of chocolate there. It keeps you honest and you are less likely to reach for sugary snacks if you know you have to document it. This also helps determine if there are any patterns with food, so if you are a mid-afternoon snacker, you know you need to increase your protein at breakfast.”
Bored of the same old gym routine and it’s only week two? It’s time to make some changes. Amanda suggests introducing intervel training to keep things fresh. “If you usually walk 5k every evening at the same pace, after 3 minutes, your heart rate reaches steady state, and your body becomes efficient at preserving energy so calorie expenditure is minimal,” she explains. “Try walking for one minute, jogging for 30 seconds and then continue. This keeps your body guessing and the increase in heart rate at such intervals will keep you in calorie burning mode.”