Giving your life an upgrade can consist of so many things. Eating well, running more, doing this exercise, doing that one. It is so difficult to find the right ones for you. When we look for a way to get healthy or fit, we look for a quick fix solution that we give up on when after a week or a month it isn’t doing as good as we want it to. Let me say from the outset, if you want to change your life, it is not with a quick fix. It isn’t with the 30 day to flat abs program. It isn’t with the liquid diets. It isn’t with any of these methods. But let me say, these approaches will help get you set up into an exercise routine if you had not done so before. But these quick fixes do not result in the perfect forever body; it is about forming good habits and making lifestyle changes. The word “diet” implies something temporary.
The point I am making is that, as you will have heard before, it takes determination and time to succeed in your goals when it comes to making changes, like losing weight. What my aim in this article is, is to show you some new ways to think about exercising or getting good rest. That way, you can set up new habits or changes to implement into your life, instead of temporary ones and reverting back to your old ways.
A recent article highlighted what you can do to get a better night’s sleep, so I won’t go into great detail about how to get your desired amount of rest. But before passing on one sleep hack to you, the importance of your sleep environment is where you begin. Do you have a bedtime routine? Do you stop drinking caffeine after midday? Do you put your mobile phone or tablet in another room before you settle down for the night? If the answer to any of those is “no”, then, do those first. Secondly, is your bed actually comfortable? If you find lumps in the bed that were not there a few months ago, you may want to start thinking about buying a mattress to better improve your sleep quality.
The benefit of sleep cycles is something that is more discussed about now. But there are those that don’t know where it applies to their sleep patterns. People still operate on the belief that they will get into a sleep deficit if they miss a good night and will then need to “catch up”. The truth is, it is not the amount of sleep that you get which determines how refreshed you feel, but the amount of sleep cycles you complete.
When you sleep, you go through 5 stages. Stage 1 is light sleep, and you gradually go into a deeper state, stage 5 being REM sleep. You then revert back through the stages to stage 1, and a cycle is then complete. Do you wonder why you wake up at a strange time of night for no reason and felt really refreshed? Well, that is because you have woken up at the end of a completed sleep cycle. The time of sleep cycles, depending on the person, can vary from 90 to 110 minutes. The amount of sleep cycles you need to complete varies on the person, which can take trial and error. Luckily in the world of phone apps, there are ones that can track your sleep cycles for you. So you don’t need to do the hard work.
The reason sleep books and general advice recommends that you get up at the same time every day (even weekends) is for this reason. Your body has its own cycles, and thrives on routine. So, if you discovered that you can function on only 4 sleep cycles of 90 minutes, you will have only needed 6 hours sleep. Imagine what that frees you up to do with that extra time you usually spend sleeping!
Going to the gym can be a drain. Not just from a physical standpoint, but from a time point of view. We simply don’t have time to get to the gym five days a week because we have commitments, like family and work. But the truth about exercise is that it was done years before boxercise was ever invented, and we didn’t need fancy equipment. Looking beyond the traditional ways, like cardio and yoga. There are methods that aren’t talked about as much as you would like your gym instructor to. Here are two ways that people keep fit without resorting to fancy equipment. One is very popular, and the other, you may not have heard of. With these two exercises, they are ones with the time conscious in mind.
High Intensity Interval Training
Commonly abbreviated to HIIT. It is a great way to break down your exercise into one hard hitting session that targets all areas. It is a great alternative to cardio. Long after finishing it, you are still burning calories. Doing a run may be great for some alone time but it is time consuming; to run for an hour every day adds an hour to your time!
So, try this instead of running for 5 miles every day and burning off a few pounds. Doing HIIT in the space of 20 minutes is time effective for so many reasons. You can get up and do it first thing in the morning before you start your day.
The basic method of doing it is doing flat out, “can’t breathe” type exertion, which is followed by a period of moderate rest.
Using the popular example of a tabata sprint it works like this:
- Run (flat out as fast as you can!): 40 seconds.
- Walk (at a moderate pace, 40% to 60% intensity): 20 seconds.
- Run again as fast as you can: 40 seconds.
- Walk moderately: 20 seconds.
Continue this for 20 minutes or until you can’t do any more. Be warned, it may make you sick. It is all in the “high intensity” part of the name.
There are variations on HIIT. One popular version is Insanity Training, where cardio, HIIT and bodyweight training are combined for a very hard hitting 45 minute session. But if you are a beginner, starting off with the basic HIIT sprint session will be enough, and then you can gradually start to build up.
Body By Science
A method that has its origins in biochemistry. Body By Science is probably the most time saving process to bodyweight exercise out there. It is based on the method of breaking down the muscle fibres, which is the goal in any gym session. But the method behind this is to break the muscle down at an extremely quick rate. This is achieved is by lifting the weight very very slowly.
The process of doing a basic move, for example a bench press, would look like this. Starting from the point where the barbell is lowered, you would:
- Lift the barbell upward slowly over a period of 25 to 35 seconds.
- Hold the barbell at the top. You cannot cheat by stretching your arms to hold the weight (using your “bone on bone” tower), they need to be just before the stretch.
- Lower the weight over a period of 25 to 35 seconds.
The TUL (time under load) is the factor in which your muscle erosion is measured. It is done on equipment instead of free weights for safety reasons, and has only 5 core moves:
- Seated Row (Upper Body Pull)
- Chest Press (Upper Body Push)
- Overhead Press
- Leg Press
The amount of weight that you use is not bodybuilder amounts! It is recommended that you lift approximately 75% of your own body weight. So that it is enough for you to actually lift the muscle, but also enough that it proves difficult. The difficulty in doing these exercises will be apparent when you do it. Because of the amount of fatigue and the amount of lactic acid it produces, you will feel shaky and like you want to give up. Your body will send stress signals to the brain. It is at this point where a spotter is very handy. You need to do all five exercises in quick succession, so you should only be in the gym for a total of 15 minutes! Recovery time is about 5 to 7 days, so don’t even think about doing gym work in between.
With these little time hacks, they are very handy in today’s quick fix society. If you try the exercise hacks, make sure you get the medical advice of a professional before undertaking any strenuous activity. And with the sleep hack, it is a matter of trial and error. But don’t forget, it takes 28 days for a new habit to be formed, so be persistent. These things take time, so just keep your goals in mind. Good luck with your new habits!