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You might have heard of these before? As a keen cyclist I hear this term crop up all the time when professional cyclists look to make the slightest advantage over their competitors by reducing a gram of weight here or there on their bike or modifying the set-up of their body position. If you shave your legs to reduce your ‘drag’, then you truly know that you are taking your cycling to the next level!

But minimal gains don’t have to just stand for the professional athletes amongst us. I want you to consider the idea of making minimal (or even maximal!) gains through going about your daily life. Gains don’t just have to occur through a structured training session. They will, believe me!….but could you add to those without even really thinking that you are training?

Let’s take a minute to think about the ways we lose weight. It’s a complex process I know and some find it easier than others. There is no one single easy and simple fix and I believe that every individual must go on their own independent journey to achieve the weight loss they aim for. One of the many factors that lead to weight loss/gain is something called energy balance. Think of an old weighing scale with the following on either side:

Energy IN (calories from food & drink) vs Energy OUT (movement/exercise)

If we put IN more than we expend OUT then it stands to reason that we will put on weight.
If we expend more than we put in then it stands to reason that we will lose weight.
Unfortunately, it is not always quite as simple as that as it also depends on what type of food we eat as well as our hormones and even our genes, but it still remains a good principle to follow.

I prefer not to use the word exercise in these circumstances. I prefer to use the word movement, because in many forms, that is all that exercise is. Increasing our heart rate will burn more calories.

So you don’t need to be in a gym to move right? I believe that training and being in the gym working out should be seen as our maximal Gains. Our day to day movement should be seen as our minimal gains.
A bit like that saying….. ‘Take care of the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves!’

With this in mind I love to challenge my clients post training session, to find ways in which they can add up the minimal gains throughout their week without even thinking that what they are doing is exercise or training.

Here are some examples:
1) Walk to work or part way rather than drive. Better still, jog or cycle

2) Take the stairs at every opportunity and get up them quick if you can. Never use an escalator again!

3) Walk to the shops when you know you can. Don’t drive.

4) Do something active when you are waiting for the kettle to boil or the adverts come on the tele. This can easily become routine. (One of my old clients used to do sit ups every time adverts came on the tele – a great idea!)

5) Break up your working day sitting at the desk with some aerobic movements and dynamic stretches. Great for your posture and to increase your heart rate. 2 minutes every hour.

As humans, we were born to move and to be active. It’s modern technology and the advancement of industries that have reduced the need for us to move to survive.

We should all be thinking much more about how we can incorporate movement into our daily lives. Making those minimal gains add up into real change and support towards not only weight loss goals but healthier and more active lifestyles.

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash