Ask Get-Fit Guy: How Can I Maintain Fitness?
Q. A listener recently sent me a question about maintaining fitness after a period of intense training:
"One concern I have is that while I am currently very keen and enthusiastic, there may come a time when I no longer have the time to go to the gym as regularly as I do now. How can I maintain my fitness level?"
A. It’s true that when you stop working out, you lose fitness (episode 22 of Get-Fit Guy is going to tell you exactly how quickly this happens). But you don’t have to stop working out when you reach your goals – instead, you can simply follow these rules:
For maintaining muscles, you need to stimulate a muscle group at least every 72 hours. So for those trouble spots that you want to maintain, do a weight training workout at least every 3 days. It is true that on these days, your muscles need to be subjected to a similar resistance as the resistance that got them fit in the first place, so doing narrow-grip push-ups at home to stimulate the back of your arms is not going to maintain the same results as a 200 pound benchpress.
For maintaining aerobic capacity and cardiovascular fitness, attempt to complete one “long slow” cardio workout and 2 “high-intensity interval” workouts each week. The former should be around 60 minutes, and the latter around 30 minutes. For more on long slow cardio and high-intensity intervals, read the article “What Is The Fat Burning Zone?”
For maintaining flexibility, stretch warm muscles for about 5 minutes each day, focusing specifically on tight body parts. A perfect time for this is immediately following a cardio or weight training workout.
By following the rules above, you should be able to maintain with as little as 2 weight training and 3 cardio workouts per week. But most importantly, remember that the human body is designed to move, so for best results, stay physically active as much as possible, even if you’re not “working out”.