( just in case you thought I was being mean by making you work hard)
In pretty much every fitness session I offer, I use an approach of encouraging clients to push and rest. It works equally well in my online fitness for women classes and in my 1:1 personal training sessions because it gives a really effective, time-efficient workout and helps you to build lean muscle and burn fat.
Sometimes I will put together moves which are deliberately challenging, not because I’m nasty, but because I want you to reach the point of needing to rest!
So what does ‘push & rest’ mean?
The idea is to use a weight which is moderately challenging for your body, but still manageable enough so that you can do the work.
In other words, you can perform the movement pattern well, with good technique, but as you keep going you will reach a point where you will need to have a quick rest, before you can continue again with good form.
So you push yourself as hard as you can, with good technique, for as long as you can, and then you rest until you feel ready to go again.
Typically, at the start of an exercise/workout you will be able to keep going for longer, and then as you begin to tire you will maybe have shorter gaps between rests. So if we’re doing four rounds of a circuit, on the first round you might not need to rest very much; on the second round the rests might be more frequent, but quite short; on the third round the rests might be frequent and slightly longer; and by round four they might be a bit more frequent still.
If your dumbbells (DB) are not heavy enough you will be more likely to ‘coast’ through the workout, never really feeling your muscles burn, not feeling that your heart rate is elevated and not actually needing to take a rest. Whilst this might sound (& maybe feel) like a nicer option, it will not deliver such good results for your body. Sometimes we all need an easy workout session, and there’s nothing wrong with taking one, but it’s not the best long-term strategy if you want to build/maintain lean muscle mass, which becomes more important as we get older.
Find out more about this approach to training here
For some exercises, your ideal weight will be heavier than it is for others – eg. you’ll always be able to use heavier DB for a deadlift than you will for a side raise – so you might need a couple of weight options for your workout OR we can use some different training techniques to even things out…
Different ways to train to keep the intensity high:
Hybrid moves –
As well as encouraging you to push and rest, I will usually have you doing ‘complex’ or ‘hybrid’ moves, which involve using several muscle groups or two areas of the body at once – eg. squat & biceps curl or lunge and shoulder press. This helps to make your session very time-efficient and higher intensity because you’ll be packing in more moves in a given time than you would if each move was separate.
Performing hybrid exercises also helps to give you a cardio element to your workout without needing you to add impact to your moves.
Continuous format –
The exercises are also done one after the other, without any defined rest breaks, so that you can keep going at an intensity that suits you, rather than working with the clock. If you feel ok to move on to the next move right away, you do that; if you need a quick breather, you take one. It puts you in control of your workout and makes sure that it is truly self-paced as well as rest-based.
We can also vary the speed that you move to vary the intensity of your workout. Generally speaking, if you have lighter DB, you will be more comfortable moving faster, so what you miss in load you gain in repetitions – although heavier would still be more effective overall! On the flip-side, slowing your movements down keeps your muscles under load for longer so sometimes that will give you a better training effect.
Range of movement –
We can also play with the size of our movements for each exercise that we do. Sitting deeper into a squat will obviously give you more work than staying higher up, and so long as it doesn’t cause any joint pain, it might be the most effective option. Sometimes we might change the range of movement by using bottom-half or top-half variations, or mixing up these two options!
What’s the best way to exercise?
With exercise there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ but it is probably good to vary your workouts as much as possible, to cover all bases and keep on giving your body new challenges.
- vary everything – pace, ROM, weight, choice of equipment, length of workout, exercise selection – often
- push yourself, but also tune-in to your body so that you can rest when you need to (& know that if you never need to rest, you’re not working hard enough!!)
- aim to feel all of these things while you’re working out – feel hot; get out of breath & feel your muscles burning
- don’t be afraid to pick up heavier DB – you can always put them down again but you might not need to!!
And if you’re still unclear about what is the best way for you to move your body, always find a suitably qualified trainer and let them help you. This is Archie. He is not a qualified trainer, but he’s happy to help also!
& let me know if I (or Archie?) can help you