Little Tips for Big Results

By Dave DiFabio

Well, it is that time of year again. Every media outlet in existence rehashes the same old top ten tips for keeping your resolution. I could do a Dave's "Top Ten" reasons why resolutions suck, but I'd be here all day (and I would just be plagiarizing Letterman). Instead I will say that if your reason for taking action has to do with this "special time of year", then your reason isn't important enough to do anything at all. Think about all of the other important matters in your life. Chance are if it's important to you then it garners your attention right away, now, and not at some other "magical" date on the calendar. There is no time like the present.

As my former Sports Psychology Professor, Dr. Rob Gilbert would say, "When your 'why' is big enough, you will figure out the 'how' ". The problem is many people don't understand or know their why. I do know that ideally it needs to be something very important and personal to you. Perhaps it's improving your health so that you have the opportunity and ability to chase after your grandkids. Perhaps it's improving your athletic performance in order to earn a scholarship. Perhaps it's to lose wight for a wedding or High School Reunion. Whatever it is, the "why" should be realistic but lofty. The key is to not let the loftiness overwhelm you. Instead, realize that it will not come in one day, one week, or even in the magical month of January. Instead it will come in steps and you need to enjoy the steps, the journey. How? Well, you have to stop wasting time and torturing yourself with activities that you hate (i.e. the treadmill, stationary bike) and find activities you may enjoy (i.e. basketball, swimming, dancing, lifting weights, etc). The thing to remember is that there is no time like the present to at least take your first step, even if that first step is 10 - 15 minutes long. At least it's a step in the right direction towards that big, important "why". Furthermore, one step is better than no steps.

By the way, I'm not bashing the treadmill and stationary bike. Maybe that's something you enjoy. Great. Go for it. I will temporarily bash the treadmill to illustrate a point. Personally, I love running, with my headphones on, down by the waterfront. I can't stand the treadmill. You will never catch me on it. It could be raining or snowing outside and I will bundle-up and head for the waterfront before I get on a treadmill. I also despise the standard stationary bike but I love taking and teaching spinning classes. By trying different things over the years I've discovered what I enjoy, don't enjoy, and my "why". The interesting thing is, it has changed and evolved over the years. Before I got into the fitness business I played lots of soccer to stay in shape. I loved playing soccer but hated training for it. Now I love doing many of those things related to soccer training (running, intervals, lifting, plyometrics, etc) but I hate playing soccer with "adults" that are just looking for a fight ;-)

Lastly, I continue to hear people say they just don't have time to workout. I get it. I understand it. In the last two years, I became a homeowner, a husband, and a father. All the free time I used to have to hit the gym whenever I wanted to has been severely shortened. Therefore, I now had to "make" or "find" time just like everyone else. But you know what? When the "why" is big enough, you will figure out the "how". So again, I understand the need to be as efficient as possible with your time. Many times, I don't have more than 40 minutes available, so I need to squeeze as much benefit as possible out of that allotted time (as do many of my clients). Below is an efficient "cardio" workout that I was asked to write a few months ago. It can be completed in under 40 minutes (and that includes stretching).

Get Fit and Lose Weight with SCC & HIIT

When trying to lose weight, should you do high intensity interval training (HIIT) or should you do steady-continuous cardio (SCC)? Why do people feel they should do just one or the other? Have you ever seen an overweight world class runner? The best runners in the world incorporate both modalities into their training for a variety of reasons and so should you. I'm not suggesting that you quit your job, lace up your running shoes, and start training 8 hours everyday, but we can all incorporate SCC & HIIT to get fit and lose body fat in the process. We can also apply the principles of SCC and HIIT to other modes such as the elliptical, bike, rowing ergometer, and body weight plyometrics.

Recent research indicates that the biochemical effects of both SCC and HIIT are cumulative and lead to greater gains in heart contractility, cardiac output, aerobic and anaerobic power, and the ability to process and burn fat and glucose. Multiple methods of combing both SCC and HIIT have been researched. You could elect to do SCC and HIIT alternating days up to 5 or 6 days per week. You could also combine both into one session up to 4 or 5 times per week in a variety of ways. A sample workout:

Warm Up: 8 minutes light jogging

Work/Rest Intervals: Complete 3 cycles of the following: 30 seconds sprinting/90 seconds jogging or walking. 60 seconds running/60 seconds jogging/walking.

Cool Down: 8 minutes of light jogging/walking, 10 minutes of stretching

If you need help with your "why" or your "how", I'm at your service. Let's make it realistic. Let's make it lofty. Let's make it important and personal. Let's enjoy the journey!

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Dave DiFabio MA, CSCS, USAW

Owner/Strength & Conditioning Coach - Team Speed Fitness LLC