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Working Out Smarter, Part Two

A Sitdown With A Personal Trainer

Remember this guy: Bryan Twichell, certified personal trainer, nutrition buff, former pro soccer player, dad and all around good guy?

A portrait - taken by a phone camera. You get the idea though, right?

A portrait: taken by a cell camera. You get the idea though, right?

Well, he’s the star once again of Working Out Smarter, Part Two. As a refresher, the goals of the hour-long sitdown with Bryan were to help maximize the time and effort poured into fitness, and to help more than just myself. Granted, Bryan’s expertise cannot possibly be summed up in an hour or a couple of posts, as ‘Diercise’ (my newly coined ‘diet and exercise’ power couple name) is different for everyone depending on fitness level, goals, ability, age and even personal preference. But it’s a big step in the right direction.

FYI, my personal goals are to get back into decent shape, to lose the Freshman 15 I seem to have acquired recently despite having been out of school for over 20 years, and then to develop a fitness plan that is realistic and sustainable over time.

Bryan and client Mary working out smarter.

Bryan with super cool client Mary. Yep, she's already working out smarter under Bryan's watch.

Workout Wisdom

Below is some advice Bryan shared with me regarding how to get the most out of the workout part of the workout. (See Working Out Smarter, Part One for some pre-workout tips.)

1. As teased in Part One, Bryan taught me that you’ll get more out of your workout if you lift weights before you do your cardio, something I had been doing completely backwards, as I much prefer to get the dreaded cardio out of the way. Why does it make a difference, you ask? When lifting weights, you’re burning off the glycogen (glucose or carbohydrate stores) in your muscles, so when you get to your cardio, you’ll start burning fat sooner. (This explanation is admittedly a little simplistic. You can check out more in-depth details at And no, I’m not planning on becoming a body builder, but the science is the same regardless.)

Speaking of bodybuilding, here's a rare glimpse of the personal trainer training.

Speaking of body building, here's a rare glimpse of a personal trainer working out.

2. Now onto the piece of advice that made me mad (at first). I am of the mindset that when I’m at the gym, I have to work hard and sweat a lot or else I’m wasting time. Bryan ever so nicely pointed to the heart rate chart on the treadmill (instead of just telling me I’m wrong).

There it is in yellow and blue.

There it is in bright yellow. Duh!

Fat burning happens most efficiently during low intensity cardio. I had a very hard time slowing down enough on the treadmill to reach my target and still feel like I was doing my body any good. After 20 minutes, I got frustrated and traded the treadmill in for a walk with my dogs. So while I was unhappy with the slow pace at the gym, it was good to know that walking the dogs was doing more for me than just fresh air and some vitamin D.

Bryan recommends doing low intensity cardio on heavy lifting days and high intensity cardio on cardio-only or light weight lifting days. And if you’re short on time, intervals are a good way of getting both low and high intensity cardio done. (I’m not mad any more Bryan!)

3. Keeping your body guessing when it comes to weights is a good idea—to an extent. Over the years, I’ve learned that being a creature of habit makes life easier on your body, not necessarily better. So when I made my triumphant return to the gym in December, I vowed to never do the same workout twice, either for weights or cardio. I thought I was clever. I thought I was doing something right. Bryan has made me rethink that, too. He cited the mental aspect of fitness, as people are typically inspired by progress, and repeating the same workout routines helps us see and feel real progress. Heavier weights, more reps, more reasons to keep going back. He recommends changing the routines every four to six weeks so your body doesn’t become too accustomed to what you’re doing, but some repetition of routines is actually a good thing.

In Working Out Smarter, Part Three, learn about the all-important  60 Minute Window and some other fitness tidbits from Superstar Bryan.

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