How to Workout Smarter – Is Consistency Over Intensity the Way?

Jeff Baldelli
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Never Being Sore?

Working out is hard. You don’t have to tell us. We all know that we’re sore after every workout, but is there a way to alleviate this?

You can of course take an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen before or after working out. Or you can just work out more to build up your pain tolerance, which is often a smarter option.

Another expert-backed option for reducing post-workout pain is to warm up first. Before you get started with your actual workout, spend a few minutes on some light cardio (cardiovascular) exercise. This will help your body warm up, which in turn helps loosen up your muscles and joints just enough to offset any soreness you’re about to experience.

A Quick Cool Down

What’s better than a quick cool down? Nothing. Think about how much better you feel after a little cardio in the pool.

Ease sore muscles and tendons back to life by cooling down after your workout. It may be tempting to take a hot shower afterward, but you’ll be better off just jumping in the pool instead.

Keeping your temperature at about 92 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes is your best bet when it comes to cooling down. This helps your muscles and joints to slowly return back to homeostasis.

Be sure not to jump into a cold shower immediately after your workout, though. This can work against your body as you want to continue to flush the lactic acid out of your muscles rather than trapping it inside.

One Trick for Faster Recovery

When you think of creatine, you may think of how popular this supplement has become among gym-goers. However, creatine can actually enhance your body’s natural recovery.

One study discovered that taking 5g of creatine a day helped to significantly reduce muscle soreness.11

If you’re a regular exerciser, then this is something to seriously consider factoring in. It can help to reduce the recovery time between workouts and increase your overall performance.

Yoga for Installing Flexibility

Flexibility is a fickle thing. You can take care of it with stretching, or it can stay on its own schedule. It’s something that can be easy to manipulate, but difficult to improve.

But what about this sore muscle business?

The biggest argument for not lifting weights as part of your regular training routine is the risk of overtraining. Additionally, because you need a lot of strength for certain lifts, you risk becoming bulky and look more like a bodybuilder than an athlete.

However, the muscle soreness that you can get from a workout is unlikely to happen. Research has shown that, when you lift weights, your central nervous system (CNS) is actually inhibited, which means you can’t feel the muscles being strengthened as well as becoming larger.

This explains why you may be worked out after a cardio session, but rarely after a weight-lifting session.

All forms of exercise, including strength training, will stimulate neuroadaptations within your body. This means that your nervous system will begin to adjust how it functions in response to your physical training.

Most of this happens at the subconscious level, where your body will learn how to do things more efficiently, such as running your cardiovascular system more effectively or being able to produce more power for your sprinting.

The Benefits of Weightlifting

Remember what we discussed about interval training earlier? Well, you can couple this with your strength training to start the most awesome form of strength interval training ever.

Optimally, you would perform a few strength training exercises at the gym after warming up for a few minutes. Then, you would do a few minutes of cardio, then repeat!

If you don’t have access to a gym or you don’t feel like working out indoors, then you can simply choose to do all your strength training exercises in a row, without any form of cardiovascular exercise. Remember, it’s the “rest” between the training sessions that actually gives your body the chance to recover and improve.

How to Make Strength Training Work for You

For those of you who are already gym regulars and have some experience lifting weights, you’re probably quite familiar with the concept of hypertrophy, a fancy word that refers to enlarging the cells that make up the muscle. While it’s definitely one of the main benefits to weightlifting, it’s not the only one.

What is Flow State and Why is it Important?

Combining work and play can be the recipe for a successful exercise routine. People who are motivated to be active are more likely to stick to a schedule, which makes them more likely to succeed. One of the reasons for this is the magic of flow state.

The flow state is an optimal state of consciousness where you feel completely focused on the task at hand but at ease at the same time. It’s that perfect balance where you’re not stressed out but you’re working as hard as you can.

It’s a hard thing to explain in words, so I’ll attempt to describe it by using an example. Playing a video game like League of Legends or Super Smash Bros Ultimate are activities that get you into a flow state. So are activities like doing a crossword puzzle or playing with Lego.

Over the last several years, a psychologist named Oliver Burkeman found that he loves doing jigsaw puzzles.

He thought that he was crazy! How could he like cutting up pieces of cardboard into geometric shapes?

We’ve been conditioned to believe that we have to train hard in order to get better results. That if we have to do jigsaw puzzles, then we are doing something wrong.

Realizing that his desire to do jigsaw puzzles was more than just a quirky preoccupation, he did a bit of research. Shockingly, he found out that just about everyone enjoyed doing puzzles. People even pay to do them.

He found some experiments that proved his point.

In one study, participants were shown videos of a couple of friends or strangers throwing a ball back and forth. They then took part in a physical test. Some of them were told to push as hard as possible to see how much strength they can muster. The others were told to take it easy and just try to enjoy the experience.

The group that was told to push themselves exerted more effort and worked harder, but the level of effort was recorded by the experimenters to be sub-par compared to the group that was told to relax and enjoy the task. The latter group’s level of effort was perceived to be much more intense and quality, even though they weren’t working harder.

Consistency Over Intensity – Is it the Way?

There’s been a lot of controversy over the years about whether it’s better to focus on long workouts versus short, high intensity ones when trying to burn fat.

Some people believe you should go faster to burn more fat. But, as you’ll find out a short while, the winner between the two is quite obvious.

Many athletic studies have found that short, extremely high intensity workouts are almost always better for burning fat than extended workouts. This is true whether you do HIIT on an exercise bike, treadmill, or even a rowing machine.

One study by the American Council on Exercise found that doing five 15-second sprints on a bike burned more calories than 40 minutes on an exercise bike at 40% of their maximum heart rates.

Imagine that!

This could be due to the glycogen stored in your muscles and liver. When you exercise, you burn sugar for energy. When you go for a run or a long bike ride, your muscles burn up that energy supply, which is glycogen.

After a workout like this one, your muscles replenish that supply by breaking down fat, which leads to better fat burning in the future.

The other benefit that comes from extended cardio sessions is the delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that some people feel after working out.

When it comes to running and aerobic training, the theory is that your muscles will place additional stress on your bones and joints due to the impact. That stress can cause DOMS.

You need to realize that building muscle and running for extended periods of time don’t really mix. Muscle growth occurs when you rest, and not while you’re exercising. If you’re working out for extended periods of time, you’re going to be spending the rest of your day incapacitated.

That’s not exactly conducive to building muscle or being productive, is it?

While some people say that you should run for hours to lose weight, and therefore you should spend your rest days building muscle, this is a flawed way to think. The truth is that you need to have the opposite mentality … you need to build muscle at a fast pace and then take days off from all the cardio work to give your body time to recover and grow.