Ep. 72: What Workouts Are Most Effective?

Especially with my postpartum clients, I get asked this question all the time. As a new parent, we have limited time, limited energy, but we don’t want to give up on our health, fitness and physique goals. So, we need the most bang for our buck. In this episode, I dive into what workouts are going to be most effective for each person.


Welcome back to the, not your mama podcast. This is your host Kelly Bryant. And this week we are answering the age old question. What workouts are most effective? I get this question all the time from people who are new to workouts or people who are coming back to working out, maybe after time off from a pregnancy or postpartum or just life stuff.

So if you’re getting back into working out and you want to know what is the most effective thing for me to do, or maybe it’s the most efficient thing for me to do. This is going to answer that question. The first thing we need to know is what your goal is. So what’s most effective is going to depend on your goal. If you were trying to run a marathon.

Then a max strength, strength training program is not going to be the most effective thing. I’m going to make some assumptions about what most of my listeners Are aiming to do. And that’s just based on the clients who I actually work with, but let’s just suffice to say, if you’re trying to like lift the most weight in a CrossFit competition or run the fastest, I’m not talking to you.

So let’s just assume that your goals are to be functional. So to be able to chase after your kids, to be able to pick them up to not have pain. Your goals are to be mobile. So you want to be able to get up and down off the floor. You don’t want to feel like your hips are tight. Maybe you work at a desk and you don’t want to just feel like you’re constantly so tight.

And then last but not least, you probably have a physique goal, so you don’t necessarily need to be the leanest person out there, but you want to wear a bikini and feel good about how you look. So that is generally people call that like toning or like being toned. Yeah. I’m not wild about that word, but it’s generally like a physique goal of, I want to look like I work out. I want to look like I’ve got a little bit of muscle.

Maybe I want to burn a little bit of fat.

So that’s our assumption as far as what your goals are. And if those aren’t your goals, if no part of that is your goals, then maybe the rest of what I’m going to say to you doesn’t apply. But if those are your goals, It’s still remains that the most effective workout is the workout that you will do.

There are a lot of things that play into what workout will you actually get done and that includes preferences. Right? So all the time when I talk to new clients, they’re like, I really hate running. Like I please don’t make me run. And I’m like, No problem. Like I’m not going to make you run because I hate running too. And it doesn’t matter what my goals are. I’m not going to run. It would be very silly of me to go be like, I’m going to run a half marathon because that would make me miserable. So it’s great if we can have some alignment between our preferences and our goals, but no matter the goal, you’re not going to do workouts that you don’t enjoy.

At least not for very long. We know that guilt is not a very strong motivator and just like feeling bad about like, I really should do this, it’s not usually very effective. So we want to make sure that we’re doing workouts that you enjoy that are aligned with your preferences. Workouts that you have the time for. So one of the biggest mistakes that I see people make when they’re getting into a new training program is being like, I want to work out five days a week for 45 minutes or an hour, or I’ll ask someone how much time do you think they can, that you can give me? And they’re like, wow, like, I really feel like I shouldn’t go over an hour and I’m like, okay, that’s way more time than we need. Let’s pare it down to like, what is the most sustainable amount of time that you can hit? Consistently. So maybe there are weeks where you’re like, oh, I could do five days a week for 45 minutes. And there’s probably also weeks where you’re like, I could do three days a week for 25 minutes. And we want to make sure that your program is probably somewhere in the middle so that it feels like it’s something that you can keep up with.

Then we have energy levels for people who are new parents, energy levels play a bigger role than you probably give them credit for. It doesn’t matter if it’s like the shortest workout. If it’s something that you love doing, if it is too much energy, if it’s just more energy than you actually have to give, you’re not going to be able to get it done, at least not on a consistent basis.

So keeping in mind that we want to cater our workouts, not just to like, what should work black and white in a textbook, but also what you actually have the energy to give and the sleep deprivation and the mental strain of managing small children. It’s very, very real. So we want to keep that in mind, as we are programming, it is very normal and it’s best if we just accept that your energy levels for workouts now are different than they were before you had kids. So keeping all that in mind that the most effective workout is the workout that you will do. There’s still a lot of wiggle room. There’s a lot that we can do that’s still aligned with your preferences, your time availability and your energy availability that still works toward a specific goal that you have. So if we’ve got that goal of being functional, being mobile and being, you know, working toward a physique goal, then our most effective workout modality is going to be strength training. This comes as a sup. It’s like a big surprise for a lot of people, because most people assume that if they want to look toned or lose fat, they need to do cardio.

And there’s nothing wrong with cardio, particularly low intensity cardio, like going for walks or like going on a gentle bike ride, but doing high intensity cardio. Like, you know, really like full out spin classes, five days a week, or going onto the elliptical and like trying to be in a like heart rate zone three, or maybe like a perceived exertion of five out of 10.

Doing that for an hour after, you know, you do like some mobility at the gym, you are going to end up actually being much more hungry. So most likely you’re going to eat a lot more in response to that calorie burn and you are going to be more likely to lose muscle as well as fat. If we’re strength training, we may not burn as many calories, but we’re less likely to be super hungry after those workouts. And we are less likely to be wasting muscle. We’re much more likely to be burning fat in that case or losing fat in that case. So strength training, is super effective. For the fact that it sets you up to not be as hungry. And there are benefits metabolically to having more muscle on your frame. Muscle is the most metabolically demanding tissue. So if we are going to be trying to burn fat, we want to gain muscle because that’s going to raise your metabolic rate, lean muscle mass increases your metabolism.

So. Adding muscle, even if it doesn’t cause you to see a change in what the scale shows is going to show up as looking more toned, and it’s going to allow you to eat more food. The crowd goes wild. So. You’ll look, you’ll get that tone. Look that you’re looking for. You won’t have to starve yourself and you are setting yourself up hormonally for being in a much better place later in life. Right? So if you are nearing the end of your childbearing years and you’re starting to like hit 40.

Into the forties. And you’re like, how do I make sure that I don’t suffer through menopause or have what many people experience, which is like massive weight gain, not massive. But notable weight gain over the course of their forties and fifties, increasing your lean muscle mass. So that is your best bet for healthy joints, healthy tissues, healthy hormones, and healthy weight through the.

And I should. Again, I’ve talked about this before. Healthy weight isn’t really a thing, but avoiding unhealthy weight gain is a thing, right? We don’t want to be just seeing our weight go up for reasons we can’t pinpoint.

Then there’s the function aspect of it. Strength training makes you much more functional. So it allows you to pick up your kids, to move you know, heavy things without throwing your back out or getting injured. So it has a functional benefit as well. And then there is the mobility component where yes, we do want to be doing mobility work as well. I’ll touch on that in a second, but also being stronger tends to actually have some mobility benefits as well.

When we are weak, particularly postpartum. If we have a lot of instability in our, in our connective tissue, in our joints, we tend to lock up muscularly. And building strength, getting stronger makes us let go of some of that gripping and some of that resistance and makes us more mobile. So there’s a little bit of a functional benefit as well as a mobility benefit to strength training.

All that said, put a little asterisk on that. We have to kind of go back to that thought of the most effective workout is the one that you will do. So what do you enjoy? Often, people don’t enjoy traditional strength training, like do 10 reps rest a minute, do 10 reps , rest a minute, whatever.

That’s okay. We have ways that we can work around that we can do strength training, where we have maybe a little bit of traditional strength training, and then a little bit of what is called metabolic conditioning, where you’re doing strength work fast. You’re getting your heart rate up. So you’re getting some cardiovascular benefit in addition to.

Burning a little bit more calories, but we’re not sustaining that really high calorie burn in a way that makes you super hungry, and you are kind of like having, giving yourself that like, feeling of like, whah I’m doing lots of different things and like, it feels much more engaging I tend to find. So that’s generally how I program strength workouts is that we get a little bit of traditional strength training. We get a little bit of circuit training or interval training or metabolic conditioning, some kind of like fast engaging strength training in there as well. And then when I program, I will usually also program some days that are just Pilates style of work or just yoga style work or just an opportunity for you to do some active recovery. Which is going to be beneficial for your flexibility, beneficial of course, for function as well. If you’re doing core work and things like that, mobility and. Beneficial for our nervous system. I tend to find that for a lot of new moms doing like a really rigid strength training program. Four days a week, five days a week of 45 minute strength training sessions. It’s more than the nervous system can handle because we’re not well rested. We’re maybe not doing the best job of staying hydrated and fueling in a really effective way, getting lots of protein and things like that. And that’s where we tend to get burnt out or injured. So I like getting a couple strength training sessions and then a couple like more of a group fitness style session. Not because those group fitness style sessions are the most effective thing you know, sort of objectively in a vacuum to create the physique change in the function that we’re looking for. But because those group fitness style classes offer us variety, they cater toward our preferences. They can be a little bit shorter. And they can be supportive of calming the nervous system and having more recovery time so that we were able to effectively hit our strength workouts.

So, what are the most effective workouts depends on your goal, but assuming that your goals align with what most of my clients like to do, then it’s also going to depend on what you actually will do. Including your preferences, your time availability and your energy levels. All of that being equal, like let’s assume we can cater to those things. Then most effective is going to be strength training, and specifically hypertrophy strength training, building muscle mass, improving your metabolism, creating muscle tone and creating function where we can lift heavy things. And then adding in maybe 50, 50 split, maybe it’s like 60% strength training, 40%, 30%. Mobility, yoga, Pilates, things that are a little bit more nurturing to the nervous system and allow you to have a little bit more recovery time built into your program.

If all of that sounds complicated and difficult to do. Don’t worry. I have a program for this. So I do, this is exactly what I do in my strong as a mother live program. It is a progressive overload strength training program. If you feel like you want that kind of support, I would love for you to join me. And if you feel like you want to just take this information and run with it.

Great go build yourself the most custom individualized program that does exactly what you need.

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