Working Out: Getting the Best Bang for Your Exercise Buck

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Every New Year like clockwork gyms and workout studios see a spike in new members and a surge in attendance. But how many folks stick with their ‘get-fit’ goals for the new year? By March will that recurring gym membership charge be a total waste?

New research from the NIH shows that not every workout is right for ‘every body’. If you are dedicated to a new fitness routine for over a month and feel like you are getting zero results, it’s possible you actually aren’t! It turns out that some folks who commit themselves to new workouts like jogging or biking 30 minutes a day four or more times a week might actually be ‘non-responders’ to straight up endurance workouts. Similarly, if you’ve taken up a high-intensity workout routine and are truly dedicated but don’t see any measurable improvement after several weeks it might not have anything to do with your technique. In the study, responsiveness to different types of workouts didn’t correlate to age, gender or race. What workout was effective was highly individualized. The great news was that if one type didn’t work, the other type did. None of the subjects didn’t respond to either. No excuses.

How do you find the best workout for you?

There’s no fancy test or expensive assessment to tell you what workout will work best so put your wallet back in your pocket. Simple trial and error will be your best friend. Test your resting pulse or how winded you are after walking up a flight or two of stairs before you start a new routine and then measuring again after several weeks are great cost-free ways. Remember shedding pounds isn’t the same as getting fit but finding a workout that your body responds to is the best way for weight loss to flow from your workout. You will be more apt to stick with it and to elevate your intensity and/or workout duration.

How does all this play out in real life?

Are you the kind of person that jogs and jogs but feels like it never gets any easier?  Perhaps you need to add in some internal sprints. Slow and steady might not actually help you win the race. Explore interval workouts Sprint up a hill or flight of stairs recover and repeat. One of my favorite things about HIIT workouts is that they can be shorter and more varied than the standard endurance workouts. Are you the kind of person that has been sweating it out in interval spin sessions and boot camps but find it doesn’t get any easier after a month it might be time to back off and do a slower steadier routine.

In my own experience, I should have known that a more intense interval workout is the best bang for my workout buck. When I was into running, stair training always resulted in the fastest path to fitness. Why was it a surprise when I went to loose the baby weight with different types of barre workouts and yoga I got stronger but didn’t loose much weight and still felt winded when I went to get more active? Once I switched to an interval workout the pounds came off and my heart rate and blood pressure dropped.  Now the science is there to back up my experience. If I’m intent on incorporating a slower longer workout like my beloved Daily Method or hot yoga for the core strengthening and flexibility benefits,  I know I need to add in more Daily Interval classes. I sweat more but I know my heart rate declines and I get smaller.

Getting the most bang for your buck is finding a routine that you like enough to continue and that actually provides health benefits. Don’t waste money and time on a workout that doesn’t do anything for your body. The worst case scenario is making a commitment to a workout plan that will do nothing for you.  With January come loads of deals on classes and gyms find some that offer great discounts and free trials you can take advantage of so you find something that is fun and ‘works out’ for you!