For city folk, efficiency is worth its weight in gold. We are constantly pushing ourselves and others to complete tasks faster and see results quicker, to save time and money. This applies to working out and losing weight especially—who doesn’t want the secret to achieving the most gains with the least effort?
Sometimes, the reason why you’re not seeing the results you anticipated is because you’re either not engaging in the right forms of exercise for your body, or you’re not eating right. In order to get the most out of your exercise regime, it is important to understand the benefits of different workouts, and how to supplement with the right foods.
We consulted with the experts at Topfit for answers to the burning fitness questions you might have, from suggestions for what to eat pre- and post-workout to which exercises to do at different times of the day.
Start your day with some low impact exercises on the Pilates reformer to feel good for the rest of your day. Invented by German carpenter and gymnast Joseph Pilates, both the exercise and the reformer serve to build strength and increase flexibility by putting emphasis on the core muscles.
Your core is not just your abs though—it involves muscles all around the trunk of your body, including those on your back and your pelvis. Hence, strengthening this group of muscles provides a good foundation for strengthening other parts of your body, such as your arms and legs.
Pilates reformers offer extra guidance, stability, and resistance, as it relies on a moveable, adjustable spring-loaded carriage to carry out various exercises. That way, you can equally work both sides of your body as well as tailor the intensity to your level.
Pilates is a full-body workout that switches on the fat-burning capabilities of your body without putting too much strain on it, making for a perfect way to start the day fresh and energised.
After a morning of meetings, ride that wave of energy with a circuit training session. Work out different parts of your body in one go as you go from station to station, so it never gets boring. HIIT workouts are a great way to get your heart pumping and fat burning in a short amount of time—the idea is to do an exercise at maximum effort for a short period of time, followed by a short period of rest, and repeat for a few times.
High intensity does not necessarily mean high impact, so don’t worry about hurting your joints—you can adjust the exercises according to your body’s needs. These exercises can be done with your body weight (like sprints, jump squats, and push-ups) or with equipment (like kettlebells, resistance bands, and exercise balls), as long as you keep your heart rate elevated. This increases metabolism and tones muscle, and has been touted as one of the most efficient ways to burn fat.
Circuit training combines cardio and strength training in one condensed package, great for the time-strapped and productivity-obsessed. Plus, if you work out during lunchtime, it frees up time after work for social activities, and also translates to more sleep time in the morning!
Inspired by ballet movements, barre workouts involve specific motions that activate small muscles around major muscle groups in the body, increasing our range of motion and making sure that we are able to make use of all our muscles instead of just relying on the bigger, more dominant ones. Core strength is also a major focus, to hold your body steady while you’re engaging a particular part of your body.
Despite the seemingly small movements (barre exercises involve a lot of pulsing of the arms and legs), you’re guaranteed to be sore afterwards as you are probably not used to using the smaller muscles in your daily life. Having simple but targeted movements ensure that your form, posture, and alignment are on point, lessening the risk of injury. Stretching is incorporated into the workout, so muscles are equally contracted and stretched for a toned, lean look.
Barre is great for those new to working out and can do wonders for your posture, especially if you prone to sitting for long periods of the day. Sit straight and stand tall like a ballerina while you continue your day with renewed vigour!
At the end of the day, most of us just want to retire to a soft, reclining surface. However, a soft exercise mat might be the better option. Engaging in a medium-intensity body sculpting workout in the evening can relieve stress and clear your mind from the clutter of the day’s schedule, preparing you for restful sleep later that night. A combo of cardio and Pilates-inspired core exercises on the mat provide a full-body workout without too much effort, so you can still reap the benefits.
A mixed workout featuring Pilates moves and HIIT exercises is great for activating both large and small muscle groups, making for a balanced workout that is not too strenuous.
Food is fuel, so make sure to have a nutritious snack before jumping into any workout. A delicious oatmeal bowl with some fruit is great for supplying the body with the energy it needs. Oatmeal is digested slowly so you’ll have a steady supply of energy long after your workout, and fruit provides the quick boost you need for exercising. It also has the added benefit of containing fibre, which helps regulate blood glucose and releases energy slowly; iron, which helps ferry oxygen to the muscles throughout the workout; and vitamin B, which helps convert carbs into energy for the muscles so you can get the most out of your workout.
After a good workout, you would want to help your muscles heal and grow stronger by having protein. Working out hard without having an adequate protein intake can cause you to lose muscle and disrupt your fitness journey, and can lead to excessive muscle soreness and fatigue rather than increased strength and stamina.
It is advised to consume protein within the first 30 minutes after a workout so as to help your body heal the micro-tears in the muscles. Micro-tears are what happen after you work a muscle, and are essential for building muscle mass. Soreness is a direct result of the body healing the tears, which is why the timely consumption of nutrients such as protein and water will aid and speed up the recovery process, and maximise your gains.
A protein shake is great if you’re in a hurry, but you can get creative—there are a lot of ways to incorporate protein into your diet. Protein smoothies are popular because the amino acids in them tend to reach the bloodstream and then the muscles a lot faster than protein-bound food. Add fruits like bananas and blueberries for extra fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Protein pancakes are a delicious and nutritious post-workout snack, if one craves a bit more substance. Buddha bowls—a hearty bowl of brown rice or quinoa topped with plant-based protein like green peas, chickpeas, and tofu, is perfect for a light yet filling meal, day or night. You can add in some eggs or chicken if you’d like some extra protein, and finish up with a nice cup of anti-inflammatory green or peppermint tea.
Now that you know how to maximise your workouts, it’s time to find the best place to do it. Shopping around for a gym is a highly personal matter, but one thing to pay attention to when weighing out your options is whether your gym has the right support system and fitness experts on hand to help you on your journey.
Topfit is a boutique fitness studio in Central offering a variety of group training classes such as barre, Pilates, Allegro reformer Pilates, body sculpting, circuit training, HIIT, TRX, and personal training. See their class schedule here to find one that works for you. Additionally, their in-house health food concept Topfix provides delicious and nutritious food for the health-conscious individual looking for the right foods to supplement their workouts. Sign up for a trial class, or check out their new Summer Programme packages here.