Should You Listen To Music During Your Workout?

For me, music has been linked to exercise ever since I was a kid watching the Rocky series. Who can separate the movies from THAT soundtrack? If only every workout was as sweaty, ripped and intense as a Rocky training montage (you can keep the chicken-chasing though)!

So, should you listen to music during your workout?

Research shows that adding the right music to your session can have a positive effect on your heart rate, mindset and ability to deal with discomfort. Experts recommend avoiding syncopated music such as salsa or jazz as it can have a confusing impact on your coordination but I’m not sure they would have been high on your list anyway!

I find that the best music to accompany an intense workout is something familiar which holds a positive association. Personally, my workout playlists consist of cheesy nu-metal and classic hip-hop – equal parts nostalgic and motivational.

If music isn’t your thing, podcasts are fine for extended periods of cardio but I wouldn’t recommend anything that is going to draw attention away from your workout. The best results come from movements performed with a perfect mind-muscle connection – something that can be difficult to achieve at the best of times without finding yourself immersed in a murder-mystery series!

There are times when it may make sense to go music-free. I found a lot of benefit in silence when shifting routines and focusing on learning new exercises and tempos. Once I became more comfortable, I reintroduced the playlists to help squeeze out an extra rep or two! Now, you’ll notice I said ‘music-free’, I’ll still be wearing headphones to give off that I’m in the zone, don’t bother me vibe.

What’s on your workout playlist? Do you ever wear headphones just to be anti-social??

Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below…

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What Time Should You Train For Optimal Results?

You may have heard that fasted workouts in the morning are better for fat loss, or that strength increases as the day goes on allowing for more intense sessions later in the day. So, what time should you train for optimal results?

I like to train at night, having consumed the majority of my food for the day and with a clear mind having worked through the days to-do list. Admittedly, there are downsides to this approach – mainly the after-effects associated with taking a pre-workout supplement so close to bedtime!

I’ve tried training in the morning but find that a lack of food leads to a lack of energy. In the afternoon, taking a break from everything going on during the day means that my mind isn’t 100% focused on training. I like to leave it around 2 hours after my last meal and enjoy the added bonus of the gym being a little quieter at this time of night.

The ideal approach is a personal thing but the advice I give is to test different times and find out what works best for your body. Currently in a high pressure job, or going through a particular period of stress? It might be best to get your session out of the way early, letting you move forward with the rest of your day. If you are in the middle of a particularly intense workout schedule, be careful of going first thing and leaving yourself with no energy for the rest of the day!

Basically, find what works for you and stick to it. The best time of day to train is the one which gets you in the gym at least 3 times a week.

What time do you like to train? Have you ever lay awake for hours after a 10pm pre-workout error??

Let me know on Twitter or in the comments section below…

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What is IIFYM? And how could it work for me?

One of the most important elements of weight loss is counting calories – it’s not the most exciting aspect of training and no one wants to be the guy calculating how many individual chocolate digestives he is ‘allowed’ (is that just me?). But, the simple fact is, the only way to lose weight is to ensure you are in a calorie deficit.

This theory is what allows the crazier diets to succeed – it is possible to eat McDonald’s three times a day and drop weight if you remain within the daily caloric intake required for weight loss.

One of the most popular, and easy to maintain long-term, diets focuses on the premise of ‘if it fits your macros’ (IIFYM). So, what is IIFYM?? Essentially, it is flexible dieting – a way to factor in the things you need with the things you enjoy. Focus on the three primary macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates) and, as long as you hit your daily recommendation for each, how you do so is up to you.

This adds a little science to the simple caloric deficit and ensures that your body is taking in enough of the essential building blocks required for maintaining health, energy and muscle. To keep it really simple – you can get calories from absolutely anything but, in order to hit your daily macro requirements, you will need to think a little more carefully structuring your meals.

If you are looking for a way to hit your target weight, without the need to avoid pizza or ice cream, IIFYM could be just the way to go! No foods are off-limits but, for optimal results, it is important to make sure you are still getting the appropriate vitamins and minerals.

Keep checking back for advice on tracking calories and the required caloric intake for weight gain / loss.

Does IIFYM work for you? How many chocolate digestives squeeze into your daily macros?? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below…

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