Amy Culver - The Queen of Lean
March 12, 2010    


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Amy Culver

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Are you working hard and feeling like you are not getting anywhere?  Maybe it's time to take a look at your overall workout routine and make some adjustments.

Our bodies really do work like machines.   They can easily get into "grooves" which in turn make it easier for them to do their work.  If you are doing the same old workout routine, your body made need a bit of a change to shake things up and get the scale moving again.

A simple "formula" to remember regarding exercise is: F.I.T. (Frequency, Intensity and Time).  Altering one of these factors may be just what you need to get back on track to losing weight.

• Frequency:   You can add an extra day of exercise.  Basic recommendations are 3 days per week for health and 4 days per week for weight loss.  If you are only exercising 3 days per week, it may be time to add a fourth.  It doesn't have to be another day at the gym, though.  A really nice way to add a fourth day is to plan a weekend activity.  You can take a hike or a bike ride, a walk through the park, or even something like helping out a local charity such as Habitat for Humanity.  Anything that is active and gets you moving will be beneficial. 

• Intensity:  This can be the easiest of the three factors to change.  Have you gotten into a rut on your treadmill routine?  If you feel the need to stick to the treadmill itself, try a higher incline, or a faster speed or a little of both.  If you are ready to try new things, get on the elliptical machine or even the stair mill.  You don't have to do your entire workout on a particular machine, you can split it up.  If you normally go for 30 minutes, try 15 (or less if you need to) on another machine.  If you are already working out on different machines, you can vary the intensity on the machine itself.  Try using a heart rate monitor and doing some interval work.  Let your heart rate go up a bit and then back down.  A rule of thumb formula is:  60% - 80% of 220 minus your age. 

Example:  My age is 44

220 – 44 =  176
60% of 176 = 106
80% of 176 =  141

So, I can work my heart rate up to the low to mid 140s and then back off to around 110.  You can do this in one minute intervals.  Work as hard as you can for one minute and then back off to a slower pace.   When your heart rate drops to near your minimum, start working harder for another minute.

If you don't have a heart rate monitor, you can still do intervals.  Get warmed up, work for the one minute as hard as you can.  Back off to a slower pace, and when you feel like you can breathe normally and are "rested" do another minute. Usually a "rest" period lasts around three to five minutes.  This type of cardio work can also help to pass the time.

• The last factor is Time:  This can be a little harder to work in if you have a busy schedule.  However, consider that if you are already making time for a workout, it might not be that hard to add in another 15 minutes.  After all, if you are working out four days a week, that adds one whole hour per week.  Or, you could add in 30 minutes to one day when you have a bit more flexibility in your schedule.

I suggest you try changing just one factor at a time and that you allow about a month to see the results.  In this way you can make the change a part of your habit and be consistent with it.  Also, it may take a couple of weeks for the scale to register the change.


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