Start with the Basics
The first steps to changing our body compositions has to do with routine and habits. Creating a consistent gym routine, building habits to prevent poor food choices, and getting enough sleep are all the first steps to getting us closer to the body we are proud of.
In order of effect, the basics consist of:
- Food – Eat less sugar. Eat more vegetables. Eat food with the most vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats per mouthful.
- Sleep – Get to bed earlier. Sleep in a pitch-black room. Avoid electronics before bed. Sleep as much as possible to keep you from getting divorced or fired.
- Move – Get to the gym (or sport) 3-4 times per week. Stand more. Get outside to walk/hike 2 times per week.
But sometimes we just need to sweat. Maybe we are trying to build up our engine (cardio). Maybe we are trying to get a bit more fat loss. Maybe we just need to for psychological reasons or stress reduction (so we don’t punch a co-worker in the throat).
Here is your guide to help you get more out of each visit to the gym!
First and foremost, we are not trying to just burn more calories! The goal of movement, in regards to fat loss, is to send the signal to the body to regulate the hormones that tell our bodies to burn fat.
With that in mind, we shouldn’t think of the ‘metcon’ as the only workout each day. We should view each visit to the gym as 6-7 medium workouts, with one really intense one!
Here are the details:
- Show up to the gym 10 or more minutes early and immediately start moving. Include a jog or a row that you can do some intervals on. Finish with a sprint that leaves you breathing hard. Movements that don’t require a lot of mobility prep or equipment to set up are preferred. It is also good to use empty barbell and kettlebell complexes that reinforce good movement skill.
- Go hard on the group warm up with the class. Do extra reps if necessary. Do not ‘stroll’ through this part of the class to save yourself for later workouts.
- Be aggressive with the skill practice. Use a clock to do reps on the minute. Minimize rest, and do the movement on your own as the coach demonstrates.
- If there is a lift that day, do extra warm up sets. If there is 7 working sets, plan on doing 4-5 warm up sets at a lighter load. Go lighter on the ‘working’ sets, and minimize rest. Add a movement on your own to do between sets (like a few strict toes to bar, some yoga or gymnastic static holds, a loaded carry like farmers walks, overhead walks, etc.)
- If you have time, do a drop set after the lift. As you strip the bar, do a set of 5-8 reps. Do another set of 8-12 with even less weight. Then do a final set with the empty bar. If you have time, mix in the bonus movement each set mentioned above!
- Before starting the metcon, do 2-4 ‘half rounds’ for quality. Move at a deliberate pace really focusing on form. The rounds don’t have to be exactly cut in half (a 400m run may become a 100m for example), but it should be a 2-6 minute effort. Rest no more than a minute or two before the workout starts.
- Do the metcon with the appropriate scaling/progressions to get maximal intensity.
- Immediately after the workout (or 1-2 minutes after), do a cool down or cash out. Keep the difficulty/loads easy and plan on moving for another 4-6 minutes.
- Bonus Tip: Wear extra layers the entire session. There is more and more evidence coming out that being ‘hot’ is one of the signals to the body to adapt positively to exercise!
Pick a few of these each to do each time you come into the gym, or pick 1 -2 times per week to get through them all.
Keep in mind that these tactics will not replace the basics. Focusing on some small diet changes, better sleep hygiene, and consistently making it into the gym, will magnify any ‘extra’ work you do with each visit into the gym.
Setting clear goals, and building habits to get there, are the key. Small changes each week will produce huge gains in the long run!
Check out the links below for more information about nutrition and fat loss, (andhere is a private Thrivestry article going into greater detail about the connection between intensity and fat loss)!
Fit for Life.