Your Goal: Lift More Weight
The Solution: Work your Grip
One of the biggest mistakes most people make in the gym is also one of the easiest to fix. When performing exercises where you are holding a weight, make sure that you grip the barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell tight. Not only does this create more stability (which makes it easier to move the weight), it also creates something known as radiant tension. That is, the tension you create in your hand moves from your wrist (through your forearms), to your elbow, and into your shoulder. This tension creates more neural activation, which can help you move more weight or perform more reps or sets.
Your Goal: Eat Fewer Calories
The Solution: Watch your snacking habits
There are many diet strategies that work for weight loss. Recently, the most common trend has been to eat 5 to 6 smaller meals during the course of the day. While we could argue the benefits and detriments of this approach, the small meal strategy can work—as long as you’re wary of the timing of those meals. According to recent research
, those who snack between breakfast and lunch are more likely to gain weight than those who spread out their meals more often. This isn’t a hard-written rule (morning eating doesn’t guarantee weight gain). But it does show that people need to learn to separate real hunger from boredom. Most people eat because they think they have to—not because they need to. Remember, eating every 2 to 3 hours is not necessary to boost your metabolism. So set a plan that works for you, and then eat on your time.
Your Goal: Fight off hunger
The Solution: Eat More (drink less)
Protein shakes and smoothies are popular, oftentimes delicious, and very convenient. But they’re also very unfulfilling. In fact, every time you drink your calories—whether it’s a sugary soda or a healthy shake—you are less likely to feel satisfied
and more likely to continue eating or drinking to satisfy your hunger or thirst. As a rule of thumb, the more solid foods you eat the fuller you’ll feel
. So leave liquid calories as a backup option or a minimal part of your diet for the best results. That is, of course, unless you like feeling hungry and eating more.
Your Goal: Find a Supplement that Works
The Solution: Fish Oil
There are very few supplements that I think should be included in everyone’s diet. Fish oil is one of them. Among its numerous benefits, fish oil has been linked to improved cardiovascular health, better brain functioning, and reduced inflammation. But recent research has also suggested that fish oil can improve muscle growth (via muscle protein synthesis), and might even help fat loss as well (via improved fat oxidation)—although don’t anticipate anything dramatic. If you’re looking to add this to your routine, try to consume a combination of around 3 grams of EPA/DHA.
Your Goal: Stop Feeling Tired in the Morning
The Solution: Time your Sleep
Ever wonder why some days you wake up feeling refreshed and ready, and other days you can’t pull yourself out of bed? The issue could be your sleep cycle. After all, while the amount of time you sleep is important, so is the timing of your sleep cycle. Here’s a quick primer, according to the Center for Applied Cognitive Studies:
“Studies show that the length of sleep is not what causes us to be refreshed upon waking. The key factor is the number of complete sleep cycles we enjoy. Each sleep cycle contains five distinct phases, which exhibit different brain-wave patterns.”
We could dig into all the details, but each sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes. Therefore, it’s best for you to time your sleep in 90 minute intervals to guarantee that you don’t wake yourself during your deeper stages of sleep, which will leave you craving your bed and desiring more rest, instead of being ready to take on the day. That means sleeping 7.5 hours (5 complete cycles) instead of exactly 8 hours (5.3 sleep cycles) could leave you more refreshed.
Your Goal: Stay accountable on your Fitness Plan
Your Solution: Use Your Cell Phone
For years accountability has been identified as one of the key factors attributed to success on a fitness plan. (whether weight loss, muscle gain, or sports performance) But establishing a network that keeps you on task is always easier said than done. Turns out, your mobile device could be your savior. Recent research at Temple found that people who used accountability networks that provided feedback from Facebook and text messages 3 times per week lost more weight than those who just used Facebook or received no extra help. By receiving texts and Facebook feedback, the individuals not only shared their goals (accountability) but also received real-time feedback, which improve self-monitoring and helped created behavioral change.
You Goal: Jumpstart your Workout
Your Solution: Pour a cup of coffee
I don’t drink coffee. Or Red Bull. Or any other energy drink. But I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t point out that numerous studies
have highlighted the benefits of caffeine. Research shows that it can boost your mood, help you fight off fatigue, and improve your overall gym performance. So if you’re looking for a boost, caffeine appears to be a solution. The caveat: Some people do build up sensitivities, so start slowly. And research hasn’t identified the ideal dose, so tread lightly and don’t use this as your excuse to start each day with four, double-shots of espresso.
(note: adding cream/sugar to your coffee is not part of the performance-enhancing benefits of caffeine. But it is a nice way to gain unwanted weight).
Your Goal: Make Time for a Workout
Your Solution: Buy a stopwatch
The most common complaint about fitness always revolves around a lack of time. So instead of worrying about creating more time in your day, just make less time for your workouts—with one tiny exception. Your workout intensity needs to increase. Fast-paced timed workouts (oftentimes called metabolic conditioning) are great for anyone who wants to get back in shape in a short period of time. But the key is adhering to timing of the workouts. Most of these fat-burning plans consist of timed sets (doing an exercise for a given period of time, instead of counting for a goal number of reps), and following a short, specific amount of rest. If you’re going to follow these types of programs, do it right and don’t cheat. Bring a stopwatch and you’ll be surprised how long 30 seconds can feel (when doing an exercise), and how short it feels when you recover.
Your Goal: Break out of a Diet Rut
Your Solution: Break the Rules
Try something new. And when I saw new, I mean really new. About 6 months ago I tried intermittent fasting. It sounded crazy, but had just enough research behind it that I felt safe giving it a go. The result? Despite being busier than ever, I’ve maintained my weight, dropped body fat, and increased my strength. Best of all? I no longer deal with hunger issues (or overeating), which was always my issue. It’s not that intermittent fasting is the end-all solution. Far from it. But it’s a technique that fit much better with my schedule, and that made compliance much easier. The more compliant you are, the more likely your will succeed on your diet (regardless of the plan). It’s so simple that even scientists agree
You Goal: Eliminate Aches and Pains
You Solution: Foam roll.
Just do it. It won’t feel good during, but it will change your life after. One of the best decisions I’ve made is foam rolling
. Your body needs it, so what are you waiting for?
Your Goal: Eat more carbs
Your Solution: Carb cycle
Nowhere does it say that in order to lose weight or be healthy you need to restrict all carbs. You just have to be smarter about your approach. One technique that works is called carb cycling
. There are many variations, but the simplest form to try out consists of altering your carb intake based on the days you exercise. That is, on the days you work out, take in more carbs and enjoy some of your favorite foods. On the days you don’t train, just taper the carbs and keep it mostly to vegetables and maybe a few fruits. Yes, it’s a sacrifice. But you won’t be hungry on the low carb days (loading up on proteins, fats, and veggies will keep you very full), and you’ll be surprised at how much you can still eat some of your favorites (like bread and cereal) and still lose weight.
Your Goal: See More Results from Training
Your Solution: Stop changing your workouts so often.
Most people worry about becoming bored or enjoying their workout. You know what I find enjoyable? Real, visible results. If you have a good workout and stay consistent, that’s what you’ll see. But it won’t happen as fast or as effectively if you are stricken with workout ADD. That’s not to say weight training is the only exercise that counts. I believe that you should find the type of activity you enjoy and do it. But when it comes to resistance training, too many people haphazardly exercise rather than follow a plan. And that alone is the reason why so many people fail.
Article by: Adam Bornstein (livestrong.com)