In ChaLEAN Extreme, Chalene Johnson says something like “Life you wanna make easier, your workouts….you want to make them as hard as possible!!” We also know a shorter, more effective workout can get you the same results as a longer so-so intensity workout.But are extreme workouts really safe?
But are extreme workouts safe for everyone?
In short, for beginners — no.
Most experts agree that by pushing your body to the limits, you’re more likely to get injured, sick, or burnt-out rather than reach…perfection. — Marie Claire
If you workout at a gym, the trainer should be able to tell you the requirements of the class and whether it is currently in your fitness range. If they can’t, I personally wouldn’t stay for the class.
For example, one of my friends went to a local gym, and she ended up pooping her pants. (Side note: She did share this publicly– why I’m not sure, but gotta like the honesty). If you’re workout is SO extreme, you mess yourself — don’t do that workout. Something is majorly wrong, and you should listen to your body before it goes to THAT extreme.
Besides having that happen, you risk injury with a workout outside of your physical limits. Plus, if you are a woman over 30, it’s important that our heart rate stay in a healthy range and that the cardio is short and effective. Otherwise, we burn up our hard earned muscle!! How? Your body goes through all of it’s reserves to full that crazy workout, and resorts to your muscles for energy.
But don’t you need an extreme workout to see results?
You want to choose a workout that is challenging for you, matches your goals, and is realistic based on your lifestyle. If you are working out at a moderate level 3-6 days a week, you are going to see changes. You can also incorporate HIIT workouts on some days for the extra challenge, but 30 minutes generally gets in enough cardio for the day.
Also, remember those before and after shots on-line or on television, are the exceptions. Yes, you are going to feel and look better when you take care of yourself, but not everyone is going to look like a Biggest Loser after 60-90 days.
Ace, the fitness certification center, sets realistic expectations for extreme workout results: “research has shown that most of us need to exercise consistently, and up to a year, to gain even 2 pounds to 4.5 pounds of muscle mass”.
Your diet also plays a major part of your results!! How major? 70%!! The other 30% is split between your workout and genetics. So please, don’t go all out on a workout, and then eat junk or not eat at all!
But I love extreme workouts…
I’m an extreme workout fanatic. I have been working out since I was 17, and if you pop in 10 Minute Trainer, while effective, I will want to stab myself in the eye …or take a nap. I need something intense; I need something to feel accomplished after.
I am an experienced exerciser that knows the proper form, how much to eat, and how my body feels while doing an intense workout program. All of these things are perquisites for an extreme workout.
Even when I started TurboFire, my first extreme workout, I passed out after doing a HIIT workout, going to the pool, and not drinking and eating enough that day. I will never, ever do that again. Live, but learn from my mistakes! Listen to your body!
Here are a few other tips for doing an extreme workout
- Aim for quality reps instead of the quantity. As your muscles fatigue, your form will suffer. Other muscles will begin to compensate for the fatigued muscle. I have a big problem with my neck hurting if I am not careful doing shoulder exercises due to lack of good form. You want your muscles shaking on your last rep, but once that happens, stop to protect your other muscles.
- Fuel your extreme workouts. The Rock just posted a picture of his meals on Twitter. He eats 7 meals a day! Hillary Swank had to be woken up in the middle of the night to eat when she trained for Million Dollar Baby, and the actor that plays Peeta in The Hunger Games resorted to blended chicken smoothie to get in all of his calories. When you workout like an athlete or superstar, you have to eat like one!
- Keep a food journal (at least for 2 weeks). A food journal will help you see if you are eating enough calories to fuel your workout. Plus, it will also show you any weak spots you have in your diet. If tracking drives you crazy, maybe following a meal plan would be easier and offer the same safety net. (Calculate your calories)
- Prevent Injuries by knowing your heart rate and body. I absolutely love my Polar heart rate monitor. It helps me stay in my perfect heart rate range, and it also tells me how many calories I burned during every workout.
- Keep a fitness log — You should know how much you lifted, how long you paused the dvds, how many reps etc. every workout. It will help you track your progress, and also help you prepare for your next workout.
- Finally, take a look at your perspective on health and fitness. – Loren Bassett, who is a top yoga trainer in New York City, was quoted in Marie Claire saying, “The main thing is looking at the mind-set of the person. If you’re feeling anxious when you can’t exercise, that’s a sign you’ve crossed the line between healthy and compulsive.
Some extreme workouts at home
- P90X — P90X was actually my first extreme workout. I was a senior in high school, and I was tired of those girly-girl workouts. I wasn’t completely ready for P90X, but I made modifications to a lot of the moves. The modifications allowed me to increase the intensity and still have proper form. As an exerciser, I did have to know how to modify a lot of the moves on my own though. While it’s a good price for everything you get, you do need weights (love my Boflex Select Techs! They are one of the best purchases I’ve made!) and either a Resistance Band or pull up bar.
- Insanity — Ace warns Insanity is not for the average customer, and I could not agree more! The workout does not come with any kind of modifications, and there are lots of plyometrics, or jumping, moves. These moves can hurt your knees and cause injuries. It is effective for an advanced exerciser though, and it is nice in the fact that you don’t need any equipment throughout the whole program! (Asylum 1 & 2 by Shaun T is very similar to Insanity as well).
- T25 – T25 is an intense 25-minute interval-based workout. I just started it this month, but it is my favorite from Shaun T. He focuses on your form. There are modifications, and the short workout time is also really easy to fit in for anyone. T25 could be a workout for someone on the fence about an extreme workout too.
- TurboFire (yup, it’s still extreme!) – TurboFire might have fun music and dancing, but man, oh man, it’s extreme! I burn just as many calories with it as I do with Insanity! It is my favorite out of all of the extreme workouts I have found because it’s fun, and it’s effective. I also love the variety of length of the workouts. They range from a 15 minute HIIT workout to a 60 minute cardio session.
One Last Note
I know most of us don’t want to look like the Rock, but if you don’t eat, you won’t see as good of results. I don’t just mean gains in lean muscle either. If you do not follow the meal plan that comes with your extreme workout, your weight and fat loss will suffer. I have met so many people starving at 1300 calories doing Insanity that are stuck at 20 lbs from their goal weight. You have to FUEL your body for the extreme conditions you are putting it in! Eat lean to Get Lean!!
Do you do extreme workouts?
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