You lose out on fitness gains if you don’t prioritize recovery. Photo by Gabe Pierce on Unsplash Foam roller, massage gun, compression boots, cryo membership — you have it all. You’re royalty when it comes to workout recovery. Have you ever wondered how well those things actually work, though? Even the fanciest tools may not have the profound effect you think they do. Here’s a look at what does and doesn’t help you recover from workouts. What might work Massage and percussive therapy Massage therapy is backed by a rather impressive body of evidence, but studies on massage as it relates specifically to workout recovery is limited. Percussive therapy is a newcomer to the muscle recovery arena, but the available science shows promising results. Both massage and percussive therapy work by manipulating your fascia and, if deep enough, your muscle tissue, which can work out kinks that cause soreness. Percussive therapy devices, such as the HyperVolt, may help with sore, knotty muscles. Cryotherapy Cryotherapy is nothing new (hello, ice baths after practice), but whole-body cryotherapy — the trendy kind where you sit in a below-freezing chamber of nitrogen — is relatively novel. The concept behind cryotherapy makes sense: Muscles become inflamed after exercise, and cold reduces inflammation. However, some research shows that the age-old ice bath is at least as effective as that cryotherapy chamber session… Compression therapy Health professionals have long used compression to treat pain and speed up healing of inflammatory injuries. When it comes to muscle recovery, compression therapy (a la NormaTec) might help because it can increase blood flow to specific parts of your body, thereby increasing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to taxed muscle fibers. Compression boots like the popular NormaTec ones may facilitate better recovery. Far-infrared therapy Surprisingly, this one actually has some solid science to back it up. Far-infrared therapy, which works by transferring energy as heat into deep layers of body tissue, may stimulate your body’s healing processes and help speed up muscle recovery. Who’d’ve thought? (Besides scientists). Stretching Surprise! While most people are aware that stretching can have immediate effects on the way you feel, science doesn’t necessarily support stretching as a bona fide workout recovery tactic. Evidence is conflicting at best, but that doesn’t mean you should swear off stretching. Your own anecdotal evidence is worth following in this case — if stretching makes you feel better and improves your recovery, then stretch. Stretching may not support muscle recovery specifically, but that doesn’t mean it won’t help in other ways, like mobility. Foam rolling Surprise again. Foam rolling may not be the fitness cure-all you thought it was. Like stretching studies, foam rolling studies present conflicting evidence: Some studies say rolling relieves soreness, while others say it doesn’t. Some research even suggests foam rolling is better for warming up than for cooling down. But, again, don’t discount your own experience. If you think foam rolling helps you recover, definitely keep it in your routine. What we know works Post-workout nutrition Protein: Ya need it. Carbs will help, too. Your body is equipped with everything it needs to do its job -- repair your muscles. Studies show that post-workout nutrition is a significant controllable variable in the muscle recovery process, so don’t neglect your post-lift protein shake. Balanced meals go a long way. Photo by Logan Jeffrey on Unsplash Sleep Those six hours you get each night won’t cut it if you want to maximize muscle recovery. Research points to a clear link between sleep and whole-body regeneration, from hormone and metabolism regulation to — yep, you guessed it — muscle recovery. So, don’t feel bad about hitting snooze tomorrow. Water As always, water comes in clutch. Your body must maintain fluid balance to function optimally, and dehydration can impair the recovery process. The bottom line Workout recovery is about the fundamentals: mobility, hydration, nutrition, and sleep! If you’d like to learn more about post-workout recovery, talk to a personal trainer at your nearest World Gym.
Do these three things to get fit fast. We’re going to let you in on a little secret: You can’t cheat fitness. Fitness takes time. Building muscle, losing fat, and improving your health markers might be the toughest endeavors you ever commit to, but you can avoid unnecessary frustration by knowing exactly what workouts to do to get fit as fast as possible. World Gym doesn’t encourage quick fixes, fad diets, or any workout plans that promise fast-tracked results. World Gym stands by science, and there’s just no changing the fact that fitness doesn’t happen overnight. That said, here are three tricks of the trade to help you maximize your results. High-Intensity Interval Training HIIT burns more calories in less time than other types of workouts. The science doesn’t lie: Study after study has shown that HIIT produces the same health benefits as other types of exercise, such as aerobic cardio and resistance training, in less time. AKA, HIIT gives you the most bang for your gym buck. While World Gym doesn’t necessarily recommend you stack your workout routine with only HIIT workouts, if you are short on time and want to get fit fast, a few HIIT sessions each week will lead you to your goal most efficiently. High-Volume Resistance Training Do more reps for improved fitness. Strength training is integral to overall health and fitness, and any range of sets and reps provides benefits. However, research suggests that volume impacts your returns more than any other factor, including weight. Studies have shown that high-volume resistance training increases muscle hypertrophy more than low-volume strength training. So, if your goal is to get fit as fast as possible, tailor your routine to include higher rep ranges with moderate weights rather than trying to hit a one-rep max every time you enter the weight room. Consistency, Frequency, and Simplicity Group fitness, like our World Gym Athletics classes, can help you stay consistent. Like we said before, World Gym doesn’t support quick fixes. No matter what type of exercise you choose, consistency and frequency are key. Your ability to stick to a routine and show up, session after session, dictates how fast you get fit (and how long you stay fit). Simplicity is key — because studies show that people are more likely to stick to a simple, achievable fitness program rather than a program that requires you to do too much, too fast. Despite what you may see on your Instagram feed, you don’t need to incorporate the newest, craziest exercises into your routine. Whether you choose HIIT or resistance training to propel you to your goals, the basics — functional compound movements like squats — always win (especially for new exercisers). A Workout Routine to Get Fit Fast Taking what you just learned about HIIT and high-volume resistance training, plus the known health benefits of low-intensity exercise and mobility work, try one of these workout routines to get fit fast. If you can work out every day: Monday: HIIT Tuesday: Resistance training Wednesday: Mobility or yoga flow for recovery Thursday: Low-intensity, steady-state cardio for recovery Friday: Resistance training Saturday: HIIT Sunday: Low-intensity, steady-state cardio for recovery If you can work out three times per week: Monday: HIIT Wednesday: Resistance training Friday: HIIT Go for a walk or do mobility work on non-gym days. Not sure where to start? Visit a World Gym near you and see how a qualified personal trainer can help. Want help building a workout routine outside the gym? World Gym Anywhere has hundreds of on-demand workouts including strength, cardio, HIIT, recovery, skills and express (20 minutes or less) workouts. Head to the website for pricing, support, and more details.
Walking seems boring to many fitness enthusiasts, but we make a case for trying it. Walking is the most foundational, most functional form of human movement — even more than squatting. The primary mode of human transportation, walking requires little brainpower and, in general, minimal effort for most people. It’s just natural. Because walking is so simple, so natural, so easy for most, you may wonder whether walking for exercise is worth your time. Most extreme fitness enthusiasts scoff at the thought, but walking is phenomenal exercise. In fact, most scientific studies on the benefits of exercise look at walking as a primary modality. But just how beneficial is walking, really? Let’s take a look. Benefits of Walking for Exercise Walking is great for days when you feel under the weather or too sore, but still want to move. When you walk for exercise, your body undergoes a number of changes. To name a few: Your cardiovascular health improves (your heart and lungs get stronger). Your cardiovascular and muscular endurance improve. You burn calories and might lose weight. In addition to those direct fitness benefits, walking also has a huge impact on your overall health. Walking can: Lower your blood sugar and blood pressure over time. Boost your mood and energy levels. Relieve stress, boost productivity, and spark creativity. Help you get more vitamin D. And if you think walking is too easy (as many fitness enthusiasts do), consider how low-intensity exercise can supplement your current routine. Walking is a great way to fill time on rest days. It’s also a great replacement for a workout when you feel extra tired or under the weather, but still want to get movement in. Walking is an especially phenomenal exercise choice for beginners who may not have proper running or weightlifting technique yet. It’s great cardio exercise for those with limited endurance and for busy people who don’t have time for an hour-long workout session or a commute to the gym. For older adults, walking provides a way to enjoy physical activity without excess stress on the joints. Walking may, in fact, be the most underrated form of exercise. How to Make Walking More Fun Make walking more challenging and fun by walking on rugged terrain or wearing a weighted backpack. Most hardcore gym-goers don’t exactly see walking as the most invigorating workout. Even when listening to your favorite tunes or an engrossing podcast, walking may feel dull and monotonous compared to what you do in the weight room or during group fitness classes. To make walking more fun and reap the benefits of low-intensity steady-state cardio, try these walking workout ideas: If you crave intensity, sprinkle a 30-second all-out sprint into your walk every five minutes. Set speed goals. Power walking is probably tougher than you think! For strength work, add 10 walking lunges every two to five minutes. Walk in a hilly or mountainous area. Add exercises at milestones. For instance, every half-mile you walk, do 10 push-ups and 20 air squats. Walk with a weighted vest or backpack. For more ways to work out at home, try World Gym Anywhere, our digital training platform with complete workouts from trainers like Gunnar Peterson.
You know you need to work out to stay healthy and fit. But do you know how hard you should work out? Many people think they need to work out at the highest intensity possible every day, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Your weekly workout routine should contain a healthy mix of high-, moderate-, and low-intensity physical activity. Heart rate training is a valuable tool to help you hit all those different workout intensities. In our World Gym Athletics programming, we use heart rate training to ensure every athlete is getting the most out of their workout. Here is how you can start using rate training in your workouts. Why you should try heart rate training During World Gym Athletics workouts, your heart rate monitor allows you to stay within your optimal intensity range for the day. Heart rate training provides real-time feedback about how hard you’re working during exercise. This means you can adjust your workout intensity based on your goals for the given workout. That, in turn, means you can set and achieve specific, data-driven goals for each session. For example, if you want to go for a recovery run, wearing a heart rate monitor can prevent you from running too fast on your easy day. The same concept applies to high-intensity interval training, weightlifting, and other forms of exercise. How to start heart rate training Heart rate training is simple with a monitor like MyZone. Well, first you need a way to measure your heart rate. If you wear an Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin, or other type of smartwatch, you already have a way to do so. Chest strap heart rate monitors, like MyZone, use electrocardiogram technology and tend to be more accurate than wrist-worn devices that use optical tracking, so if you want to get serious, go with one of those. Arm straps are another good choice, but they also use optical tracking. Once you have your device of choice, it’s time to put it to use. Heart rate training is all about beats per minute (BPM) and how close your BPM is to your max heart rate during any given workout. Heart rate training utilizes five heart rate zones, all of which correspond to a certain percentage of your max heart rate (MHR). Each zone elicits a different response from your body. The five heart rate zones Use these five zones to achieve a desired outcome from each workout: Very light effort: 50 to 59% MHR Light effort: 60 to 69% MHR Moderate effort: 70 to 79% MHR Hard effort: 80 to 89% MHR Very hard effort: 90 to 99% MHR Calculate your heart rate zones A World Gym Athletics coach can help you calculate your max heart rate. To find your heart rate zones, calculate your max heart rate. For World Gym Athletics, we use the Hunt Method: 211 – (your age x 0.64). For instance, if you’re 25 years old, you would multiply 25 x 0.64 to get 16, then subtract 16 from 211 to get 195. With 195 BPM as your max heart rate, your heart rate zones approximately come out to: Very light effort: 97 to 116 Light effort: 117 to 135 BPM Moderate effort: 136 to 154 BPM Hard effort: 155 BPM to 174 BPM Very hard effort: 175+ BPM As a caveat, the formula isn’t appropriate for everyone. Beginners may need to adjust their estimated MHR down. A World Gym Athletics coach can help you do this. Staying in an optimal heart rate zone during workouts ensures you don’t over-tax your body, but you push it when it’s time to get intense. To learn more, talk to a coach at your World Gym.
It’s 100% possible to build muscle without lifting weights. When people decide they want to build muscle and get stronger, the first thing that comes to mind is usually weight training. They get started with dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells because they hear it’s the best way to gain muscle. And it is. Research proves weightlifting results in the most significant muscle growth compared to cardio, high-intensity interval training, and other forms of exercise. However, while lifting weights remains the most efficient way to build muscle, it’s far from the only way. Next time you find yourself without barbells and dumbbells handy, try one of these five types of exercise for building muscle. Calisthenics Calisthenics exercises include all bodyweight strength training movements. The simplest way to build muscle without weights is to do bodyweight resistance exercises. The fancy name for bodyweight resistance training is “calisthenics.” Many people think calisthenics training is reserved for elite gymnasts who can do flagpoles and muscle-ups, but, calisthenics training also includes basic bodyweight exercises. Squats, push-ups, lunges, pull-ups, and sit-ups all count as calisthenics. Plyometrics Plyometric exercises are powerful and explosive. You can think of plyometrics as bouncy calisthenics. Movements such as jump squats and jump lunges, clapping push-ups, burpees, tuck jumps, single-leg hops, and long jumps all fall into the plyometrics category — and they can all help you build strength and muscle. Sprinting Sprinting builds muscle in your lower body, especially the glutes and hamstrings. Running long distance may not help you build muscle but sprinting definitely can! Fast sprints require immense power from the calves, hamstrings, glutes, and quads. Your core also activates to stabilize your torso and your arms provide torque, so sprinting is effectively a full-body muscle-building exercise. Swimming Swim a few laps and tell us your muscles don’t burn. We’re waiting… Swimming builds muscle through resistance, just like every other strengthening exercise. Even though swimming is technically considered cardio, water provides resistance as your body moves through it, which challenges your muscles. This makes swimming much more effective at building muscle than other forms of cardio, such as jogging or cycling. Swimming in open water makes for an even greater challenge. Different swim strokes provide additional muscle-building potential, too. For instance, butterfly is way tougher than freestyle and can build up strength in your shoulders, core, and hips. Suspension Training Suspension training makes bodyweight exercises more challenging. Suspension training requires minimal equipment (a TRX or similar setup) but is still a simple and portable way to build muscle compared to weightlifting. With a suspension trainer, you can perform hundreds of exercises for your lower and upper body, as well as your core. As an added bonus, suspension training is really great for improving stability and core control. Mountain Biking If you’re up for some adventure, mountain biking poses a serious challenge to your leg muscles. Climbing hills on foot is tough but climbing hills on a bike will make your quads scream. Tackling obstacles such as rock beds and learning tricks such as bunny hops will improve your overall fitness, too. So, head out and hit the trails to get strong — just don’t forget your helmet! Resistance Bands Resistance bands offer great versatility. Similar to a suspension system, resistance bands add an extra layer of difficulty to basic bodyweight movements. You can resistance bands to up the ante on movements such as air squats, as well as mimic barbell and dumbbell movements. For instance, looping a resistance band under your feet and around your shoulders creates ample tension in the posterior chain, so you can practice hinging movements such as good mornings and Romanian deadlifts (things that are super hard to accomplish with no tension). Finally, with resistance bands, you can perform isolated movements to strengthen individual muscles or muscle groups, such as front raises, lateral raises, or glute kick-backs.