All of us have relationships. A wife or girlfriend (hopefully NOT both) or a husband/boyfriend, kids, parents, co-workers, employees, friends. Some of those relationships are really important to us. For me, it’s my wife and kids. They are so important to me that I try and work every day to make them the best they can be. Notice that I said “try” because some days I’m better than others.
I do this because these relationships are important to me, and it’s not enough that I just “show up” for my family. My goal right now is to be more present when I’m home, turn the phone off, stop looking at e-mails, texts and social media, and not just listen to my kids and wife talk about their day but HEAR them. It’s why my wife and I schedule date nights.
It’s not enough to just show up and think that I’ll have a great relationship with my wife and kids. It’s about being present (again, it’s something I REALLY have to work on). It’s about not counting the time I’m at home with my family but making the time count. This takes effort but the effort is worth it because it’s important to me. I asked Abby, who is very important to me at work for many reasons besides being a brilliant Results Coach and General Manager (as well as IT Staff, Marketing Department, Events Planner and Communications Department) and also allows me to focus on my family when I’m home, to help write this blog about effort as it relates to workouts.
Effort. The amount of focus and work you put in determines how much you’re actually going to get out of that workout.
It’s not always about lifting heavy. Go back and read that again. Lifting crazy heavy is NOT the only way to get in a good workout and see results faster. You can vary range of motions, tempo, reps, and more to vary the intensity of your workout, but what’s even more important than all of that? FOCUS.
First, how do we measure effort?
One common way includes rate of perceived exertion (RPE); more or less, it means deciding on a scale of 1 to 10 how much difficulty you’re having. While some people are really in tune with their bodies and know exactly when they’re giving 80% effort, others might not be. For example, when Matt runs, he could swear he’s at 100% effort, but in reality he is probably more at 70% and just perceives himself as being at maximum effort because he hates running. Matt isn’t the only one; we are all susceptible to misperceiving how hard we are truly working. Maybe we’re in a bad mood, maybe we really hate cardio or pull-ups (okay, that might just be me…), maybe we didn’t get enough sleep, or maybe we just aren’t in tune with our bodies. This is where MyZone comes in.
MyZone is a heart rate monitor with some sweet bonuses added that I’ll explain in a minute. MyZone measures your physiological effort begin given, and tells you what percentage of your max heart rate you are at (100% being the hardest you could possibly work). It also divides these percentages up by range, providing you with “zones” that are labeled by color (gray, blue, green, yellow, and red). Now a typical heart rate monitor usually just tells you your maximum heart rate based on a basic equation (220 - age=maximum heart rate), but that doesn’t account for individual differences (such as level of physical fitness). It will then calculate calories based on your heart rate and a few stats (age, height, gender, etc.) However, most of us do not fit into that mold, and unless you’re REALLY good at quick mental math, you have no idea what zone or percentage of maximum effort you’re working at. Knowing beats per minute and calories burned isn’t enough if you want to get the most out of your training.
This is where the cool part begins. MyZone remembers the workouts you’ve done and recalculates your max heart rate based on the workouts you do. It’ll then adjust your zones to accurately reflect your personal physiological effort being given. It then calculates calories burned throughout the workout based on your heart rate along with your gender, age, and body composition (side note: there are SO many things about yourself that you can enter into MyZone to help it further calibrate to you. I swear I discover something new every day!!!). In addition, the number on the tile also shows MyZone Effort Points (MEPs). MEPs are based on how much time you spend in each zone, so it shows how hard you worked in a way that levels the playing field.
Honestly, not only has MyZone changed the way I workout, but it has changed the way we train our clients. Effort is no longer measured simply by “I’m tired” or blood, sweat, and tears (fine, fine…there hasn’t been blood yet). We can push you into your yellow and red zones and KNOW you are there rather than think/assume/trust you are. But why are these zones important? If I burn a lot of fat in blue and green, why would I work into yellow and red? First, those are the zones where muscle breakdown occurs. We need muscle breakdown to occur in order to build muscle. If we build muscle, our metabolism speeds up, thus we burn more fat when we are NOT exercising. YAY!!! Secondly, we also want to have large intervals (work to yellow or red, recover to green) because that helps us burn more fat throughout the rest of the day. MORE YAY!! (Basically our body thinks we are still working out.) Lastly, working in those higher zones helps raise our anabolic threshold (the moment at which we stop burning fat and start burning sugar and lactic acid is produced faster than it can be metabolized), which gives us a larger fat burning zone. This is also a YAY!
As a side note, we can hit threshold two ways. Strength or Hypertrophy (muscle breakdown), when we lift weight to (85%) muscle breakdown occurs, which is what we want to happen so we can build it up stronger and better. It’s important to not confuse the breakdown that happens during cardio with the breakdown that happens during strength or hypertrophy training. Cardio DOES NOT help us increase lean body mass (LBM). It does NOT help us burn more calories when we are not exercising the way strength training does. Do not confuse doing 15 or more reps of an exercise to 85% effort with doing 5-12 reps to 85%. One is strength training and one is using weights to get a cardiovascular response!
This brings us back to ways to get our 5-12 reps in to 85% or more, effort. One is more weight which does have advantages, and most people are stronger then they realize. (Doing a regular body weight squat is not going to get you to 85% effort in less than 12 reps). One is changing the tempo or doing negatives or pause sets, something we do at Fuse Fitness Coaching quite frequently.
But, NONE of those are as important as focus or being “present” (ahh, that word again) in the moment. Really focusing on the muscle we are working, the depth of the move, and the way we feel and where we feel it while performing that exercise. Having a true mind-body connection to the muscles we are working on and the move we are performing. Closing our eyes and thinking about loading the weight, pausing for an isometric hold and driving the weight to extension.
This doesn’t happen if you are talking to your friend while you do the move or thinking about what you need to get done after your workout or later that day or just trying to get your 5-12 reps done because that’s what your trainer, magazine, timer or Results Coach told you to do.
If getting results is important to you then don’t count the time or reps,
make the reps and time count.
SIDE NOTE 1: If you have purchased a MyZone belt and have NOT gotten the associated cardio workouts yet, email Abby for yours: email@example.com
SIDE NOTE 2: I want to make sure you understand that just because you break down muscle, doesn't mean it automatically rebuilds. Proper pre- and post- workout nutrition are also extremely important. If you break down muscle and don’t provide it protein to rebuild that muscle, you’re not going to gain lean mass. While MyZone is an understatedly amazing tool that can seriously enhance your workouts, it’s not the only piece of the puzzle. For those of you that made it to the Unite to Ignite seminars, remember Luke’s Do-angle? (For those of you that missed, it’s do- rather than tri-, because there is no try, only do or do not.) ANYHOW, the point is that exercise, nutrition, and supplementation all play a large role in your results. MyZone can greatly help with the exercise portion.