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How to exercise efficiently

How to exercise efficiently

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In this blog post, you will learn

 

  1. That exercise energizes your body and mind and makes you way more efficient
  2. How much exercise is right
  3. What is my personal exercising routine
  4. Exercise is the king, but nutrition is the queen

 

Exercise just works

I am an above-average ‘exerciser’. OK, OK, that’s not a real word. What I am trying to say is I exercise 90% on daily basis. I do it for health, not for athletic performance.

I have been working out in a gym from age 14 till 30 with higher and lower frequencies. It helped me get rid of my nerdiness and build up self-confidence. I developed a habit of exercising and it stuck with me.

When I was a teenager, the gym was all about building mass, or as normal people call it, muscles. To be big as Arnold Schwarzenegger was the goal. Yeah, right, go for it. Veggies and steaks … bullshit, steroids baby, pump that iron, pump it …

After I moved to Germany I discovered the sickening business model of German (and, later, Swiss and Austrian) gyms where you have to sign up for minimum 2 years with hefty membership and signup fees and I said: “Nah”. So turning 30 I decided it’s a waste of money and time to go to the gym and I changed for pleiad of exercises – walking as much as possible, exercising at home, running, hiking, cycling, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and fun sports like badminton and tennis. I now only go to the gym occasionally. It’s so much more refreshing to do different sports and I feel much better physically compared to when I only went to the gym.

Growing older and wiser, the idolized image of huge pecs and ripped arms with 6-pack diminished.

Exercising to stay healthy took over. And I am glad.

I never had a role model of exercising regularly, because it wasn’t a habit in my family. I was somehow drawn to it. I like to get rid of excess energy and calm my mind. Exercise is the only thing that allows me to do it well. And not only that, in contrary to a common belief, after exercise I am more energized than before and I can go on for longer. I am much more efficient. I don’t get sick so often, I have a calmer mind and better focus. It just works …

Exercising is important

“Take care of your body … it’s the only place you have to live in. “

-Internet

Have you ever noticed that when you go to see a doctor with a health issue or just for a general checkup, they also ask if you exercise? Physical inactivity is the 4th-leading risk factor for global mortality according to the World Health Organization. Regular physical activity is acknowledged to be an effective primary and secondary preventive strategy.

Thankfully, the general education system teaches us to exercise from the early childhood. Exercise also became a synonym of a healthy lifestyle. Everybody who is educated knows that exercise helps to prevent civilization diseases and energizes body and mind.

If you want to go even deeper to the roots, our DNA has ‘movement’ encoded from the time we used to roam the untouched nature of the Earth. Our ancestors had to move and run to find food, hunt, escape and fight. To survive better, we started to live in enclosed groups which limited our ‘moving’ capacities. Convenience took over.

All in all, it has never been about “if” to exercise, but “how much” and “what type of exercise” to perform.

As mentioned in the previous post about Sleep, if you are a startup founder/entrepreneur you have to do a million things to keep your ‘baby’ running towards the success. There is not much time for anything else. You know that exercising is important, but you compromise that time on doing something else, which you think is more important at that moment. You say you can exercise later after all. Then you fall asleep being exhausted without any outlet for your body to regenerate.

This is where you are wrong, however.

Think about it. You are building your business, working hard, pushing harder, trying to earn that cash. Well, nothing of that matters if you are not healthy enough to enjoy life, right?

There is always time to take care of yourself.

In order to take care of your business and your personal relationships, you have to be in an optimal state. You will reach it with a proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition.

What to exercise?

To reach a much-needed balance for your efficient performance on your business, you need to exercise both your heart and muscles. You need to exercise to increase your stamina (=endurance) and strength. They will both help with your focus and hard work you need to perform on your business.

The so-called “cardio” activities – e.g.:

  • aerobics,
  • football, ice hockey, basketball
  • jogging or running,
  • cycling,
  • swimming,
  • hiking,
  • rowing,
  • stairs climbing

will exercise and strengthen your heart and burn the fat. They will also define your muscles for those beach photos 😉

Activities involving your muscles, e.g.:

  • pulling/pushing weights or your body weight
  • squatting, lunging
  • or static strength (isometric exercise) like the plank

will help to build your muscles and core strength. Important here to know is that your muscles act as a factory moving your body and your mind. Both types of exercise activities go together and are complementary.

When I first started to work out in the gym I made a mistake to focus on building the muscles only. I had no fitness, I couldn’t run long distances without feeling exhausted. I couldn’t cycle long distances either. I was too heavy – bulky, but not defined and I didn’t have enough stamina. I am glad I changed to the variety of workouts combining both types of exercises.

To remember the basics, as a “rule of thumb”, a good exercise:

  • makes your heart pump
  • makes your muscles fire up
  • makes you sweat
  • makes you feel energized afterward

 

Do it, but don’t overdo it

 

Just Do it gif

Just face it, unless you are pro-football, ice-hockey, basketball, tennis, racing or running athlete, you don’t need to exercise as crazy. It’s not your job. You are not getting paid millions to do it. (Would be nice, though, right!? ;))

If you are a startup founder/entrepreneur, you exercise for staying healthy, feeling energized and performing efficiently.

Exercise is very important to keep your mind and body in shape, but you don’t want to overdo it.

Let me give you a personal example. I am the type of a person that either goes to maximum or goes home.

I know it’s dumb to do 15 km of cross-country skiing when I don’t do it frequently at all (first time 2  years ago!!!), but the snowy wonderland is so beautiful. I know it’s dumb to go for a 50km bike ride after a long winter, but nature is waking up, it’s sunny and birds are singing.

Don’t do it.

After you come back home, you will drop ‘dead’ just like I did and your muscles will hurt the next few days. That’s not the worst. A little bit of stretching and yoga and it goes away. The worst is that you lose your efficiency. As your body regenerates, it takes energy away from your brain. You are not as efficient as you would be after a ‘normal’ exercise.

Start small and build up slowly. It trains your muscles and prepares them for something bigger.

How much exercise is right?

Scientifically, it is recommended to engage in a min. of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. That makes it ca. 21.5 minutes per day of moderate physical activity or almost 11 minutes of vigorous physical activity per day.

Not much, is it? Beware, though. This number has come from many science studies, averaging the already averaged averages 🙂

Everybody is different. Our bodies respond individually to different levels of physical effort. You should find your own sweet spot. You will know you hit it when you still feel energized after the exercise and you want to take on all the challenges the world is throwing at you. If though, after doing the exercise for few days, you feel tired or generally not well, try something different.

Just don’t mistake feeling tired and not well after you start exercising with prior complete inactivity. If you start from scratch, you will feel pain during the exercise. You will have sore muscles the next days. It is OK. Make sure to rest, but don’t stop. Push through this initial weakness and your body will accustom. It will reward you with higher endurance when it comes to challenges you will need to tackle in your business.

You should exercise as much as you feel engaged. I found out that around 20-40 minutes per day works for me. I also tried the famous 7 minutes workout, but it’s too short. Maybe it’s because I exercise regularly and 7 minutes is not enough. However, I find it as a good starting point. The exercises are basic enough to prepare your muscles for longer exercises.

Experiment in a cheap way by finding a couple of YouTube videos. This is great if you bootstrap your startup and have a tight budget. If you are OK financially, go for classes organized by local fitness centers. Interaction with real people is much better. Makes the efforts extra real and plus can lead to some good conversations and who knows what else.

If you a social butterfly, here is another idea. Learn the exercises from YouTube and create an exercise meetup where you can teach others what works. The community rewards you with new relationships and opportunities.

Refresh exercising routine after some time to avoid mental atrophy

After you do the same exercises for a longer time, you may find yourself being bored. It’s the best time to look for a new exercising routine. Search YouTube for new instructors. There is so much free stuff on Youtube that you can build your own routine in a matter of hours.

New exercises activate your brain. When you first try to learn the routine, it’s activating your mental capacities which can help you be more creative. You know the old saying that you should ‘change your way to work’ from time to time to refresh your brain. Learning new moves or balance routines activate your brain cells and strengthen your inner body core.

Another good point following the instructors on Youtube is to see which one you like. I mean, they are all ripped and good looking fitness people, so make your choice based on who do you like to look at. Trust me, being platonically attracted to the person on the screen helps to push harder when you can’t go on anymore 🙂 If you opt in for real classes with real people, maybe you can bring it to the next level 😉

Shall I go running, just because it’s trendy?

Yeah well, running is the new trend among the ‘classy’ people. Every successful startup founder or businessman and businesswoman are joining the trendy “running-train”. It is true, running is proven to keep your heart and cardiovascular system healthy and it strengthens your stamina.

As mentioned before, we are all different. If you don’t like running, don’t do it. There are alternatives like walking fast, hiking or cycling. If you like team sports, just make your pick – football, ice hockey, basketball or lacrosse. They all make your heart pump as good as running.

What to do in the winter or bad weather?

This is an issue with many outdoor sports. You don’t want to get wet and cold and the ground is all muddy or icy. Plus the winter is usually very dark in the mornings. Team sports are usually easier because you just switch to the indoor sports hall. However, what about running? Let me put it this way. If you are absolute running freak, and you can’t live without it, you will find a way – warm, waterproof sports clothes, headlamp or shoe lamp and off you go. If you have it clear in your head that exercise is important, but you find yourself making excuses about going running out in the winter, then make it easy for yourself, switch to different type of exercise. It’s all about exercising regularly, doesn’t matter what kind.

What is my exercise routine?

I mentioned a couple of times in this post that I try to exercise on a daily basis. I usually exercise 5 or 6 days in a row with a 1-day break when I either go for a longer walk or I do yoga.

I found all exercises on YouTube and I do them at home. I combine it with running all year round and cycling from spring till autumn. Late summer and early autumn are for hiking. Walking is year round activity with shorter walks to and in between public transport and longer walks to clear my mind in nature.

DID YOU KNOW?

Instead of sitting in the office or a meeting room, you can exchange for walking meetings. You wouldn’t believe how refreshing it is to discuss projects while walking. You are more focused and creative. Agreeing on next steps is also a breeze. Thanks Gian for the idea!

Having said that, after 3 years of experimenting with different approaches I read about on the internet, I build up my exercise routine below. You will notice that I am not ‘obsessed’ with it and rather I try to be natural. Even if I can’t exercise because of traveling or I am sick, my body got so used to it that it craves it. It’s kind of on an auto-pilot. Good efficient habit to have, really.

Morning

Day

  • A Brisk walk to the public transport, to the office, shop, ‘running errands’, etc.
  • I take stairs instead of elevators 99% of the time (1 % is when I absolutely don’t have any other option)
  • In the spring, summer or autumn, on a free day, I usually go for a 3-4h cycling trip (50-100km) or 4-8h hike in the mountains or 1-2h roller skating trip
  • In the winter, occasionally I go for a 3-4h cross-country skiing trip or full-day snowboarding trip

Afternoon/Evening

I learned about Mark Lauren from one of my colleagues in previous work. I have been following his routine for a 1/2 a year and then built my own from his exercises. Mark Lauren training is called “Bodyweight training” and it’s about building your core strength and muscles. I invested 5 EUR in his interactive app.

Mark Lauren’s Bodyweight training is great to build your inner core before switching to more demanding exercise routines like Tony Horton P90X, P90X2 and P90X3.

I found out about Tony Horton in the US in one of their 50 minutes infomercial breaks. People shared their ‘notorious’ photos from before and after, which caught my attention. What got me sold, however, was his funny personality. He is a great coach. When I exercise his routines, he makes fun of himself and I chuckle or laugh a lot. On the other hand, he makes me say a lot ‘F*ck you Tony Horton” because it really hurts, and he knows it and he makes fun of it.  The whole concept is based on building exercising and nutrition habit in 90 days.

The best about following the instructors on YouTube is that they show you how to do the exercise and you will keep this knowledge for the rest of your life.

Get it straight in your head – commit to exercise every day for min 30 days. Work hard, but have easy days as well to regenerate. Walk as much as you can during the day. Take a bike to work or shopping. Use stairs instead of the elevator. Just do it!

Exercise is the king, but nutrition is the queen

 

The queen

You know that saying, King may rule, but Queen pulls the strings 😉 If you think about your efficiency, it is proven that 85% of results is what you eat and 15% is about exercise.

After reading a book called “The Calorie Myth“, I understood better what nutrition really makes our bodies to stay healthy, productive and efficient.

All about nutrition is coming in my next post.

Lessons learned

  1. You exercise, therefore you are efficient!
  2. Everybody is different, and finding your sweet spot takes a little bit of experimenting with different types and lengths of exercising
  3. 85% of results is what you eat and 15% is about exercise

 

Resources and tools mentioned in this post

 

Let me know

Hey, all. Hope you found interesting points in this article that you can apply and exercise more efficiently. Can you please let me know and share what worked for you in comments below? I am always on a lookout for new techniques how to exercise even more efficiently so any feedback is welcome.

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