In one of the FB fitness groups I’m a part of, a gal asked this: “I always see lots of you doing multiple workouts… is this what I should be doing?!?!” I responded with, “No, you should do what you feel like doing! The only reason I’m doing 2 a day is because hammer and chisel is all about strength, and isn’t a big calorie burner. With the way I eat, I eat very healthy but do have some treats, I need to burn calories too! I’m not using the food containers to sort my food. If you are using them, and following the calendar, then you don’t need to burn extra! That’s my opinion, anyway.”
And then I thought about it, because I think about this a lot.
I am not a person who can half-ass anything that I commit myself to. When I read fitness forums and a minimum of “30 minutes of cardio exercise a day, 5 days a week” is suggested, I think they really mean it. I don’t think they mean “30 minutes including warm-up and cool-down stretching.” They mean 30 minutes of your heart really pumping. Because of this, I feel like 40-45 minutes of “exercise,” including warm-up and cool-down, is the proper minimum per day, 5 days a week, because that gives me 5 minutes to warm up, 5 minutes to cool down, and 5 minutes of bonus cardio. And let’s remember, that suggestion is for CARDIO exercise, not strength training. Unless you’re really pushing hard during strength and ab training, you should be doing cardio on top of that. Strength training is great for your muscles, cardio exercise is great for… your heart! There is a difference!
Because of this, I will never just do a fitness program that promises that you only have to workout 30 minutes a day (like 21DF, Insanity Max 30, T25, etc.). I know that may sound ridiculous, but I just can’t do it. I could do it while supplementing the program with other workouts, but honestly, 30 minutes just isn’t long enough for me to get dressed for it, turn on the TV, and commit. If I’m committing, I’m committing to 40+ minutes at a time minimum, and I like to roll that workout right into a TurboFire HIIT or INSANITY workout to get at least an hour of fitness in a day. It’s just how I am.
When I started getting into shape in 2006, I signed up for an extreme 10-week resistance bands and kickboxing program. I took it very seriously, and in those 10 weeks, I learned how to work my body and diet to my benefit. Each class lasted exactly 45 minutes, and the warm-ups were intense (pretty much a TurboFire finale-type set of exercises) and the stretching at the end was done in the last 2 minutes of class. We were working our hearts for 40 minutes on kickboxing days, so that is what I got used to. This worked for my body and eating style and I lost lots of weight. I repeated the same program after having kids and had even better results. Because of that, I just really can’t workout for less than 45 minutes a day (real working out, not including warm-ups and cool-downs) and I prefer at least an hour spread between 2 workouts if I’m doing strength training. If I can do 45 minutes, why not do 60, right?
It goes beyond this though. It’s about calories for me. I am a very healthy eater, but I don’t believe in denying myself the things I want just because I shouldn’t have them (note that this statement does not apply to alcohol – I really don’t drink much alcohol at all no matter how many calories I burn in a day because it’s just not worth it to me). I earn the things I want to eat by working out. I’ve written in a prior post that I don’t “diet,” and that my target NET calories per day is 1300-1350. What this means is that after exercise, I want to have a net calorie count of 1300-1350 calories each and every day. So if I burn 500 calories today, and I am targeting a net of 1300 calories, then I will consume 1800 calories today (1800 gross calories – 500 burned calories = 1300 net calories left to fuel the body). It’s basic math, and it works for me because I log everything in myfitnesspal down to the half oreo. 😉
People ask, “how many calories do you burn a day?” My husband would tell you I burn 1,000, but he’d be wrong 😉 I do not like to burn less than 300 calories a day, and I target 500 calories a day. If I can finish the day at 500 calories burned, I’m a happy gal. I’m happy because I worked my ass off, and because I got to eat some really good food that day to balance out to my net goal of 1300-1350 calories. 300-500 burned calories a day is a great target for me. People insist that I can eat anything I want, but they’re so entirely wrong. I MUST stay within my net calorie goal for the day, or the scale will punish me. It’s amazing how quickly my body can turn against me after a couple of days of poor choices.
At the end of the day, I’m just a competitive person who knows what she’s capable of. If I could run 4.11 miles two days ago, why not do at least that today? If I burned 450 calories today, then I should be able to burn 450 or more tomorrow. Of course there are days that I drop my mileage or calorie burn, but in general, this is how I think. That is how I got myself to an average daily exercise time of 60 minutes, 7 days a week. I just kept pushing harder and harder because I knew I could.
So when someone asks, “should I be doing multiple workouts per day?” my gut answer is, ‘well, yeah, of course!’ because that’s what I do. But that’s not realistic for most people, and I know that. I have a lot of time to workout as a stay-at-home-mom because if the kids are asleep or at school, I’m working out. It’s just what I do. It’s my hobby, it’s not work for me. I don’t watch TV, I don’t read during the day (I really should be reading during the day), the house is always kept up because we’re both pretty obsessive about that – so what else is there to do that’s as fun as working out? Couple that with my intimate knowledge with what, exactly, my body needs to get to where I want it to be, and I end up with a crazy amount of hours committed to exercise each week.
Now… please don’t ask me if I take rest days. 😉