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Tips from Gunnar Peterson


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

1. It isn’t about what you’re doing, it’s about how hard you’re working! Always ask yourself: Am I working as hard as I can be? There’s a guy at the gym who gets on the StairMaster every day, and I can always tell when he gets to the financial section—he slows down. If you’re able to read the paper, you probably aren’t working hard enough. People think, for example, that the elliptical machine isn’t an effective form of cardio, but it can be—anything can be. When you’re on the elliptical machine, the key is to look at your strides per minute, find a strides-per-minute marker that makes you really push yourself (it’ll be different for everyone, but most people should try not to go under 100), and then work to stay within five strides more or less than that for the duration of your workout.

2. Set the bar at 100%. When it comes to your fitness goals, if you say to yourself, “I’m going to aim for an average body,” you’re setting the bar low, so the results may be even lower. Shoot for a “perfect” body, and you’ll be pretty darn happy when you get a pretty rockin’ one.

3. When you’re building a house, you have to take the time to step outside of it and look at what you’ve done. It’s important to stop from time to time to acknowledge what an amazing thing you’re doing for yourself and how far you’ve come—however far you’ve come. Don’t wait until you’ve reached your final goal to pat yourself on the back—or to take a break! Everyone deserves one.

4. When it comes to food, don’t always trade down. Constant deprivation is no way to live. Don’t always skip the delicious stuff for raw carrots and brown rice.

5. The scale causes more injuries than any other piece of equipment in the gym. When I opened my gym, I got rid of the scales! Stepping on a scale empowers an inanimate object—every time you get on it, you turn over the helm of your emotional well being to something that doesn’t care about you. Just think about how you feel when you’re working hard and loving your body, and then the numbers on the scale tell you you’ve gained four pounds! Want to know if you’ve gained or lost weight? Put on your favorite pair of jeans.

6. Squats are the king of all exercises. They’re a multijoint compound move that work the biggest muscle group of the body—the gluts. Metabolically, consider squats your BFF.

7. Go to bed. Pick up a copy of Power Sleep, by James Mass, and I swear you’re going to say to everything that’s causing your sleep deprivation, “Screw you, I’m going to bed!”

8. You can’t “blow it” in a week. Even if you’ve had a week of holiday parties and eggnog overload, don’t give up. You don’t have to start from scratch! I once ate a jar (a whole jar!) of peanut butter every night for a month (just to see how it would affect my body), and I gained eight pounds that month. A little weight gain is reversible—just don’t let eight pounds turn into 40!

9. If it ain’t working, fix it. I’ve heard some very overweight people at the gym say, “The treadmill is the best form of cardio, so that’s all I’m going to do.” And for years now, I’ve seen them walking on the treadmill every day, and they are still really big. If you’ve been at something for some time now—an eating plan, a workout—and aren’t seeing results, isn’t that a sign that you should try something different?

10. Use music to motivate you. If I had to pick one song to work out to on repeat, it would be Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.”

11. Don’t be a closet eater. A lot of people get into trouble with “closet eating”—eating in isolation. If I challenged you to eat everything you wanted to eat—but eat it in front of other people—I could almost guarantee you’d eat less. There’s a level of accountability when you eat with other people. And if you’re home alone, and going to binge, eat in front of the mirror. The response is like seeing a photo of yourself drunk—you might think, “God, I don’t want to be that girl.” The same aversion to seeing yourself gorge might apply.

12. You don’t bulk up from working out, you get big from eating. People ask me if I train women differently so they don’t get big with weight training. No! When I was training Amber Valletta, she was doing pull-ups. Do you think she’s big?

13. Switch it up. If you’re doing the same workout every day, going for the same run, lifting the same weights, your body will know what to expect, and will do as little as it has to do to get you through the workout. Changing your routine forces your body to adapt to the new stimuli. That adaptation will cause a change in your body, and change is what you’re after, right? That’s why I plan a new workout for my clients—like Leah Remini, Bruce Willis and Hugh Jackman—every single day. Plus, mentally they stay more engaged (and don’t dread the workout) when they don’t know what’s coming. But you don’t have to overhaul your workout every single day. If you’re running on the treadmill, add a hill. If you’re running outside, run in a different direction. If you’re strength training, change the number of reps, the order of your workout—or even what kind of music you listen to or the type of fitness clothes you wear.

14. Remember that everything you do in the gym makes a difference in the way you live your life outside of the gym. The brownie tastes better when there’s no guilt for eating it. Your relationships with other people are more satisfying. Even your work in the office is more productive when you know you’ve gotten up in the morning to do something for you.
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