Updated: May 18
So you want to keep lean and healthy but finding the motivation to go to the gym, for a long or intense workout is sometimes just too much, especially before or after a long days work. If you are the kind of person who just needs to keep healthy, keep the fat away, look good and you aren’t striving for any major physical achievements, then I will offer you another option for training. This option may not work for everyone, it will depend on your individual circumstances.
Throughout the day our body uses energy in the form of calories. Our body uses a certain amount of calories first to maintain basic health and function as a baseline (basal metabolic rate) and after that the calories are supplied for mental and physical action. So as our baseline is being met during our day, there is usually an excess of calories left over that can either be stored as fat or as fuel for energy and muscle growth. If you have a very physical job then you are most likely burning a lot of this excess up if not all of it, depending on your diet. If your job or lifestyle is mostly sedentary, then you will likely have an excess of calories.
The “Active for calories, Workout for Purpose” strategy involves creating some basic habits or routines to help you get through the majority of your daily calories without doing anything overly strenuous or time consuming. Then to shape muscle, increase fitness and burn the excess calories, you can complete a short workout with a specific fitness goal.
For example- Lets say you have an active job requiring quite a bit of walking or maybe you work in a building on the 6th floor and have the option to take the stairs often throughout your day. The habit of walking often or taking the stairs several times a day may be enough to burn well into the excess calories you would usually be left with at the end of a day. So instead of finishing your day and having to go to the gym to do a grueling workout, you could put together a simpler shorter workout, to hit your fitness, strength or shape goals.
On the other hand if your job requires you to sit around all day, often eating lunch at your desk and barely moving at all, then when you head to the gym at the beginning or end of the day, you will have to push harder and for longer to get the same results.
So the choice is simple, be more active by creating some physical habits that you can slot into your daily routine and possibly more than halve your gym time and intensity
Take all the easy options throughout your day and have to burn through a higher excess of calories.
This way of training may not be for everyone, but if you fall into the category of people who would rather spend less time at the gym and don’t like pushing themselves too hard, then it can work well.
Here are some tips to help you out-
To shape your body, strength training is usually the best option unless weight loss is the primary goal. Lose the excess fat first, then utilise strength training to create the shape. Strength training can be done less often than endurance training to yield equivalent results. If you decide on strength training, this will require you to lift more weight with less repetitions, therefore a good warm up, stretching, good technique and often support from a friend can be helpful.
If your goal is to gain a tonne of muscle or be super fit, then you will have to workout more often and for longer periods. Short workouts with low intensity can only take you so far.
No matter what you choose to do regarding your health and fitness, a bad diet will make your goals almost impossible to reach. Controlling what you eat and having healthy eating habits always comes first. Remember, good eating habits come before physical goals.
Use a pedometer, Fitbit or similar to gauge how well your extra physical habits are affecting your calories and energy usage throughout your day.
Being active can be enough to use up all the daily excess calories, but simply being active usually wont shape or tone your body the way focused training will.
It is possible to gain strength, fitness and tone with workouts as short as 5 minutes, but I would suggest 15 to 30 minutes would be the sweet spot for someone using this particular style of training. It requires minimal rest and sometimes are higher degree of intensity. If you know how to train and use your muscles correctly, you wont need much time. Workout examples may include:
Example workout 1: 5 minute warm up- 5 minutes cardio- 10 minutes strength training on 1 muscle group- Finish 20- minutes total.
Example workout 2: 5 minute warm up- 1 minute push ups, 1 minute Dips,
1 minute push up plank, 1 minute burpees, 1 minute mountain climbers- Finish- 10 minutes total.
It may take some creativity but there are many options.
Be proactive with your strategies. There are many options out there ranging from simply walking the long way to the bus or home, to riding all the way to your workplace. Some alternative strategies arising in our modern era include treadmill and bike desks. Look at your daily routine and seek out the opportunities to be more physical and to burn some extra calories.
This option is time efficient, good for your general health and can be easier on your mind regarding motivation. The human body was made to move, so MOVE IT!!!