This month I'm changing things up in a different sort of way. I've said time and time again that the best and most effective way to lose weight is by alternating between strength/HIIT, cardio and active recovery over the course of a week. The ideal set-up being 3 days of strength/HIIT, 2 days of cardio, 1 day of active recovery such as yoga, and 1 day of complete rest, all intermingled so that you don't do the same thing two days in a row. Ideally strength/HIIT, cardio, yoga, strength/HIIT, cardio, strength/HIIT, rest.
HIIT and strength are amazing at strengthening muscle and burning calories, and the activity also sends you into a state of after-burn which is when your body continues to burn more calories than usual after your workout as it works on repairing the muscle tissue, creating stronger, leaner muscle. This stronger, leaner muscle also results in greater calorie-burn in all other activities because it will require a little more energy to power those muscles even while doing the weekly grocery shopping.
Cardio is the fat-melter, and the higher impact it is the better. Dedicating 2 days to cardio a week gives your muscles the rest they need between strength days while still burning a lot of calories and working your whole body a little more gently but more evenly.
A single day of yoga in the middle of the week gives you the chance to recovery properly, stretch your muscles and allow your body to find the energy to continue the next day while still getting some form of exercise but also a chance to settle your mind and, by relaxing into yoga, your digestive system is also eased, and that has a big impact, too.
And, finally, a single day of complete rest gives you the chance to really refuel and re-energise before starting all over again.
But though I read this all the time from all kinds of reliable sources and pass it on to you many times as well, I rarely ever follow this system myself. I've become obsessed with simply changing my workout every month, and while that's a very important thing to do in order to keep your body guessing, I also obsess over getting the most out of the DVD or workout to the point that I do it every single day, even if it's mostly strength, mostly yoga or mostly cardio. And, as I've explained above, that doesn't get me the most out of it because my body gets no chance to rest aside from on Sunday when I do take a day off (if I didn't I wouldn't be able to move by now), and it doesn't get any other kind of activity.
By using the 3 days of HIIT, 2 days of cardio and 1 day of yoga set-up as explained above, I can actually make DVDs last longer, too, and get better results at the same time.
And so, that's what I'm going to endeavour to do from this point onwards, for good.
I'm still changing my workouts every month, but I'll have to change up strength/HIIT and cardio. So, instead of trying to find two unique workouts every month, I'm going to stick to one worth reviewing, and pull the other off of the internet or out of magazines. For example, if I find a cardio DVD that seems really exciting, I'll pull strength/HIIT off the internet for that month and review the cardio DVD. This also means that I get the chance to revisit old workouts while still doing something new. I could return to Kickbox Fusion or Irish Dance Masterclass for cardio and try something new for strength. It's been so long since I did either of those that they would be 'new' to my body again, and I'd get the benefits.
I'm going to start this month by going back to the beginning of Ripped In 30. I loved it, it was a challenge, and given that it consisted of 4 different workouts that each last just a week, it's still new to my body, and even after running through it a second time right after the first it will still be super effective.
And because Ripped In 30 was the workout I reviewed last month, this month's focus on the blog will be the source of cardio: Kukuwa.
Kukuwa is a unique dance workout with an African twist. The DVD consists of two workouts, each made up of 6 5-minute routines, but because I'll only be using the DVD 2 days a week on cardio days (which works out at just 8 times throughout the month) and I know how dance workouts usually go, I expect I'll only use one of the two workouts on the DVD this month. This means, however, that I can use the other next month or at some other point in the future.
I'll also be throwing a 10-minute plyometrics workout onto the cardio workouts, it's something I've been trying out on and off a few times over the past 2 months when I've wanted a little more exercise after a bit of binge-eating the day before. I don't really know what to expect from Kukuwa, but it's likely that it won't be enough of a cardio workout, so a plyometrics circuit thrown in with it should hopefully make it more intense.
As for Ripped In 30, I'll be focusing more on my new weights - 4kg rather than my previous max of 2.5kg - and I've also got some gorgeous 'tropical' capris from Bershka.
I'll update as usual in 2 weeks and let you know what Kukuwa is like. I'm excited to try the African dancing, but after my disappointment with buti yoga, while my hopes are high, my expectations are relatively low. I hope that the latter changes...