Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What Can You Do in an Hour?

Squeezing the gym into my life is not what it used to be. Some gym days, especially on the weekend, I can take a little more time but more often than not I have to get in and out in an hour. In the past I thought I had to do 45 minutes of cardio for it to even "count". Ha! Those days are over. So, what do I do when I have an hour? Well, the breakdown is roughly 25-30 minutes of cardio, 20-25 minutes of weight training and 5-10 minutes of stretching. Today I did the following:

30 minutes: Cardio, today was Couch to 5k (Week 1, Day 5)
I use Robert Ullrey's podcast
20 minutes: Weight training, today was Back and Biceps
2 sets of 10-12 bicep curls while standing on the bosu
2 sets of 8 back extensions
2 sets of 10 lat pulldowns
2 sets of 10 seated rows
2 sets of 35 second planks
2 sets of 10 incline seated knee lifts
1 set of captains chair straight leg lifts
10 minutes: Stretching
Stretching is really important to me. I notice a big difference in feeling stiff and tight when I don't stretch and I think as I age flexibility (and balance) will become more and more important.
There you have it, an hour at the gym. One thing to note is that when I'm doing weight training I will often squeeze a set of ab work (plank, knee raises, etc) between sets of another exercise for efficiency's sake. I rarely do them back to back on their own. By the time I finish all my non-ab work I've usually squeezed all the ab work in already. And stretching, it's very tempting to cut stretching when you're pressed for time but I really feel like that's a mistake.

As far as calories go I wear my heart rate monitor during my time at the gym and that usually tells me I've burned 400-475 calories in that hour. Not bad! I talk to women that think they should just do tons of cardio and burn tons of calories to lose weight. Not weight training is a major loss. I think of cardio as an investment in your weight loss for the time you are doing it and for a couple hours after but weight training is an investment in your weight loss 24 hours a day. I think more women need to know about the relationship between increased muscle mass and increased calorie burning - even while you sleep! And the idea that we are going to get "muscular" or bigger because of larger muscle mass scares some women too. It's too bad because I am convinced that weight training was what finally led me to be able to lose weight without doing an hour+ of cardio 6 days a week!

So back to the time issue - the main difference in my routine when I have more time is that I do 3 sets of everything, I probably rest a tad longer between sets, I might throw in an extra exercise or two (maybe 15 extra cardio minutes on another machine and a different weight training thing that I don't normally do), and I spend more time stretching. But honestly, that hour feels like enough, I don't feel like I'm missing out when I can't stay longer, which is nice.

So I went to the gym yesterday (Monday) and today (Tuesday), yay me!! Since I went on Sunday I guess I've met my goal for this week already. It doesn't much matter though, I'll get to the gym as many days as I can. I'm gonna keep stoking the fire that is my momentum!


  1. You're so right on about the weights and cardio stuff and that's awesome you've already met your goals for this week!

    I need to stretch more myself.

    Lots more.

  2. That is super efficient of you!

  3. You're rocking it, Michelle! I've been doing the 1 hour workouts too. Can get a lot done when that's all the time you have. You're the one who introduced me to the "muscle burns more than fat" concept through weight training, and it's worked for me. Thanks too for naming some of the exercises I've been doing..lol

  4. Reading this post today inspired me to give some serious thought to why I haven't been going to the gym and getting my weight training on! Blog post in progress... I'm using your method of questioning the "reason" (excuse) for not doing something that would be very helpful in the long term for my health and fitness goals... and providing myself with solutions to overcome those "problems".

    And I say again, THANK YOU, Michelle! Your blog has provided me with many tools to help me tackle obstacles along this journey (including and especially the ones I placed on that path all by myself).

    1. Thanks! And it's been fun for me to read the older posts you're reading too.


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