Exercise can produce a lot of results or maybe not as many as you had hoped for. This is due to the type of exercise you choose. There are several things to talk about here. First, our muscles have memory. This is good when you haven't exercised in a while (hopefully this will not be you because you will make it a habit!), and you start again and in a short amount of time you start to see your muscles changing again. It's because your muscles remember what they used to be like. Now, muscle memory is bad because if you do the same exercises over and over and over again, your muscles are like,"hey! I've done that and I don't need to change as much because I've done it over and over". Basically, your muscles don't respond as well and you experience the dreaded plateau. Second, we need to talk about the overload principle. This basically means that unless you overload your muscles past a level that they are accustomed to, you will not see change. Think about it this way: you need to push yourself and do those last two reps or kick your treadmill up a few notches to make it hard and uncomfortable. Sure, you will improve your cardiovascular health if you don't overload your muscles, but, you may not see the changes in your physical body appearance without it.
So, let's apply what we have just learned! If you run on a treadmill or use any type of cardio equipment such as elliptical, recumbent bike, stair climber, etc. do interval training instead of just setting it at 6.0 and running for 30 minutes. Try this: if you normally run at 6.0, do that for 2 minutes and then kick it up to 8.0 for 30 seconds and then do that over and over until you have run your 30 minutes or however long you are running. Same with an elliptical- go along at your normal challenging pace for 2 minutes and then really rev it up for 30 seconds. We can use this same principle with hand weights. This type of exercise is called Tabata and it is high intensity interval training. Here's what it looks like: 20 seconds on and 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds. An example: Do squats- all out effort as many as you can do, maintaining good form though, for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 and repeat that for 8 rounds. I guarantee you will feel muscles that you never felt before just doing a few sets of squats! You can use Tabata, which was invented by Dr. Tabata in Japan after researching how interval training effects the body, with any type of exercise: lunges, jumping jacks, stomach crunches, push ups and also with hand weights: bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, shoulder presses, chest presses, etc. Just use light weights to start with so you can gauge what's too heavy and what's not. Tabata can be so intense that you can't do this type of exercise every day of the week. But, I would recommend always doing interval training when you are doing any cardio exercise, as long as you have been cleared by a doctor for exercise! A good rule of thumb is this: if you experience muscle pain that's okay, but, if you experience joint pain you need to stop or lighten the load or the intensity. You can use the Tabata method while running or walking also, meaning 20 seconds on 10 seconds off, but it is a little difficult on a treadmill because you are changing the speed so often. It is easier if you are just running outside and you can speed up and slow down on your own.
Happy Exercising!!! If you have any questions, just ask!