Although they are only one week into the first semester at UTM, many students are already looking to reduce stress and optimize their time. Most of these anxious students likely think that adding yet another activity to their crowded schedule would backfire. As it turns out, if that extra activity involves working out, then the payoffs are handsome.

According to UTMs personal training specialist Andrew Bellerby, working out can improve a students lifestyle — not just physically, but mentally and academically as well.

Increased energy, daily activities becoming easier, weight management, reducing stress, mental sharpness, heart health, said Bellerby.

UTM student Michael Rosenbloom lifting weights at the RAWC gym. Matthew Filipowich/The Medium
UTM student Michael Rosenbloom lifting weights at the RAWC gym. Matthew Filipowich/The Medium

Students should start now to establish healthy lifestyle routines or habits before the stresses of a busy term catch up them. Putting in workout sessions into your schedule just like your classes or other commitments is a great way to help establish the routine.

Although almost any kind of physical activity is sure to improve fitness levels, only those performed with proper technique will ensure results while minimizing the risk on injury. This is especially true in weightlifting, where Bellerby notices students make the most mistakes.

The biggest mistakes I see with resistance training is lifting too much with poor technique, he said. This often leads to injuries and does not effectively target the muscles that are intended to be worked.

For instance, most people tend to perform the ever-popular bicep curl with poor form, rotating their elbows as they raise the weight rather than simply moving their forearms. This amounts to cheating, as one ends up swaying the upper body to assist in lifting the weights which in turn decreases the bicep curls overall effectiveness (whether it’s better to do arm curls rather than chin-ups is an altogether different matter).

Once gym-goers develop a consistent workout regime, they must find ways to avoid getting stuck in a rut. Performing the same exercises repeatedly with same amount of weight creates a comfort zone and students should push themselves to progress beyond those levels. It is very important, however, to respect boundaries. Moving up in weight class too quickly can be both hazardous and counterproductive.

In regards to cardio training, Bellerby wants to make clear that the myth about low intensity training being the most efficient method of fat burning is false.

The myth that low intensity training burns more fat maybe be true if you have a lot of time, but for most students this is not the case, said Bellerby. Moderate to high intensity training will burn more calories and more fat in a shorter period of time. Nutrition plays a big role. If students want to maintain their progress, they need to stay away from fast food and commit to whole foods instead.Staying hydrated during workouts will also help increase execution and overall performance satisfaction.

Bellerby recommends being active most days of the week for at least 60 minutes a day. Workouts need not be limited to the treadmill or the weightlifting mat. A workout regime can include partaking in activities such as organized sports, casual recreation and group fitness classes in addition to exercising in the Fitness Centre.

In essence, a student should balance their regime with a healthy dose of endurance (4-7 days a week), flexibility (4-7 days a week) and strength (2-4 days a week). That being said, following this plan approximately three to five times a week is a good goal for most students.

If you are interested in beginning a workout regime or working with a personal trainer to see efficient results, Bellerby reminds students that there are certified personal trainers available on campus to answers questions or help students get started, free of charge. They offer a complementary 45-minute consultation/orientation to all students. These sessions can be booked at the Membership Services counter, with individual personal trainers in the Fitness Centre or by calling 905-828-5347.

Also, if you decide to begin a workout regime, remember to develop a schedule and workout on a consistent basis. Hit and run regimes do not work. It is essential to stick to your program and give your best effort each time you step into the gym.