Now that we’ve gone over healthy eating habits, it’s time to move onto something weightier—strength training.
Strength training, or resistance exercise as I prefer to call it, is when a muscle or muscle group works against a certain resistance (dumbbells, bodyweight, water etc…) for a short period of time. Think: push-ups, squats, bench press.
When done consistently, resistance exercise has the power to transform your body from the inside out. Besides developing stronger, more defined muscles, research shows that strength training can also help raise your metabolism—meaning your body burns more calories at rest—increase bone density (fewer fractures!), improve balance and coordination, and increase insulin sensitivity. But many people still don’t do it. Why? I uncovered five common reasons:
- They don’t have time.
- They don’t have or can’t afford a gym membership.
- They don’t have the know-how to do a complex program.
- They’re intimidated by the images they see in infomercials for workouts such as Insanity or P90X.
- They have been injured or are afraid of getting injured.
To combat these concerns, I kept two questions in mind as I did fitness research for my book 5 Pounds: What are the most effective exercises necessary to achieve the greatest results and what is the least amount of exercise you need to do to maximize results?
After months of study, two surprising truths emerged:
- Short, intensive workouts are more effective than longer, endurance-focused workouts.
- Variety is as essential as intensity to getting results.
Take this study published BioMed Research International as an example. Researchers divided a group of young men into two groups: One performed one six-rep set of nine upper body exercises three times a week; the other group did three six-rep sets of the same exercises. At the end of eight weeks, all participants experienced similar increases in strength but the one-set group—who spent nearly 70 percent less time exercising—lost significantly more body fat than the three-set group.
Seventy percent less time exercising! Imagine what you could do with that time. Actually don’t. Start experiencing it. The fitness portion of My 5 plan was created with this “less is more” philosophy in mind.
Here’s how it works: Do one resistance exercise for about five minutes, seven days a week.
Focusing on just one exercise a day works because you’re still able to generate enough intensity to break down muscle fibers and have enough time afterward to let them recover, which is when the fibers rebuild stronger and denser than they were before.
Get started with this 5-minute workout. Over time, as you get stronger, you’ll want to increase the weight you use and the time you spend exercising—but don’t worry, it will always be manageable.
For a full one-week jump-start plan, plus modifications, pick up a copy of 5 Pounds: The Breakthrough 5-Day Plan to Jump-Start Rapid Weight Loss (And Never Gain it Back!.
Now, discover The Power of 10,000 Steps.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.