When you exercise intensely, your metabolism revs up for up to 46 hours after you’ve finished exercising—and this is when the greatest fat-burning effect takes place. But if you don’t get enough calories for fuel, you can’t exercise intensely enough to make this happen. Check out the sidebar to find out how many calories you should be getting every day.
"It’s important to understand what your goal is, and how the exercises are going to get you to that goal," St. Michael says (Certified Trainer). For example, many women do leg presses hoping to make their legs smaller. However, leg presses are a multi-joint exercise that tends to be a mass-builder for legs. On the other hand, single-joint movements such as leg extensions and leg curls concentrate on smaller muscle groups and lend themselves to a smaller, leaner look.
To learn which exercises will get you to your goal, consult a professional. You can hire a personal trainer, or the on-site trainers in your gym may be able to help you.
That’s not the sin. The sin is having the attitude that because you let your exercise regimen slide, you may as well give it up for good. After all, exercise is only good if you keep at it, and if you skip it you’ve lost everything you’ve worked for, right?
"That’s really not the case," St. Michael says. "Something is better than nothing, and even if you only exercise once a week for a month because you’re on vacation, that’s still four days of exercising. Keep in mind that this is a long term goal."
This goes for cardio as well as weight training. "When you use the same exercise over and over, it’s a repetitive motion task, just like typing at your keyboard, which can produce carpal tunnel syndrome," Schoenfeld says. So falling into a cardio rut ups your chances for injury.
Mixing up your workout also combats boredom—always a handy excuse for skipping the gym. Schoenfeld likes to change his routine from session to session, but he suggests giving your routine an overhaul at least once every six weeks.
Do you want to drink water before, during or after exercise? The answer is all of the above. Down 16 ounces before working out, 4 to 6 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout, and then top it off with even more water after you’re done exercising.
How many calories do I need?
It is important to get enough calories every day. Your BMR (basal metabolic rate), amount of daily physical activity, and your weight are all components that determine how many calories you need. An easy formula to remember, which takes all these factors into consideration, can be done by simply multiplying your weight by 17 if you are moderately active (three to four aerobic sessions per week) or 20 if you are active (five to seven aerobic sessions per week). For instance, according to this formula, if you weigh 120 pounds and are active, you need to consume 2,400 calories a day (120X20=2,400).