Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sleep and Weight Gain

There is an interesting blog post at the New York Times about lack of sleep and weight gain.

Lost Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain

This isn't terribly surprising, as you naturally eat less when you spend more time sleeping, and your body recovers better from stress when you get sufficient sleep. Insufficient sleep = insufficient recovery from stress = more release of cortisol (a stress hormone) into your body. This causes more retention of body fat.

The short take away is that sleep is important and you need to get enough of it. This article and the study it looks at just points more towards the value of sleep.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Mindful Training

How closely are you paying attention to your lifting?

A common target for humor in the gym are the "cardio bunnies" - people doing cardio while watching TV, reading a book, flipping through a magazine, or listening to music. It seems like mindless cardio - not too hard, not too easy, and the movement of their own body is the last thing on the person's mind.

Try mindful training. If possible, shut down all distractions. Music, TVs, phones, and distractions. Put everything away except the weights you need to train with. If not possible (such as in a public gym), put on some background music that drowns out outside noises but doesn't require any attention. Or just focus yourself.

Pay attention to every rep, every step of your run, every move of your arms, legs, and body. Put your mind into each lift and each movement, and try to feel what is working. Feel the muscles, feel the impact, and feel the weight.

It sounds kind of new age-y and froo-froo, but it's not. Focus, and try to connect your mind to what you are doing.

You might find you get more out of the workout, and you can increase your intensity* without increasing your weight, reps, sets, or distance. Try to get the most value out of what you are doing by paying close attention to it. There are 168 hours in a week, and you are spending at most 4-5 hours a week training - so make sure that's all you do in those hours, at least for a few workouts.

Being wholly in the exercise can give you better results.

* Here I mean percentage of maximum possible effort, not percentage of 1-rep maximum.
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