Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2014 by Dov Herzberg
Summer time is around the corner which means that it is time to start getting in shape and enjoying all the amazing weather and outdoor activities.
Since many of you will now be beginning (or continuing) diets and exercise programs we’ve brought you the top ten essential tips for any fitness routine. Remember, becoming fit and healthy cannot be achieved without a total commitment on your behalf. It’s never too late for resolutions though… Check them out.
The first and most important step to getting into better shape is to decide what you are trying to accomplish and to create the drive that will help you get there. Goals can vary from trying to get bigger muscles to slimming down, so you need to make sure that you find the workout that is appropriate for your objective. Motivation comes in many shapes and sizes, from attempting to get healthier to wanting to impress that person at work. Determine your goals, find your motivation…and then don’t stop (until you see Tip #4).
The saying is that “abs are built in the kitchen”, but the saying fails to mention that broad shoulders, cut biceps and every other fitness goal is as well. It is important to eat the proper foods in order to give yourself a fighting chance at success. There is no lack of tools to help you create your proper diet (check some of them out over here), and make sure to always eat plenty of protein within 30 minutes of finishing your workout for maximum results.
Bonus Tip: When you wake-up in the morning, drink a cold cup of water. This is beneficial for your body in several ways. Firstly, the cold will lower your body temperature so your body will immediately get to work to bring it back up (thereby burning more calories.) Additionally, after a long night’s sleep (another good idea for anyone in fitness training), your body is dehydrated and could really use the fluids. Rehydrate and spark your metabolism; it’s a great way to start the day.
Music is one of the best ways to maximize your time and effort while at the gym. For one thing, a good music tempo can help you stay on pace while running (on the treadmill or otherwise).
Additionally, music can distract you from the burn and make you want to dig deeper to complete that that one last rep. Studies have shown that people increase the intensity of their workout by up to 15% when listening to music. That’s the 15% that can take you to the next level.
There’s always that one person at the gym who gives you a weird look and perhaps a comment as you leave the gym after an intense workout of 30-60 minutes. Pay them no heed. Working out at a higher intensity for a shorter period of time is much more beneficial than going slow and steady. One trick to use is to workout two separate muscle groups a day. Do your chest on the same day as your back, your arms on the same day as your shoulders and your legs on the same day as your abs. This way you can alternate moves without wasting any time. Workouts should generally be between 30-60 minutes of intense weight-lifting, cardio or abs a day and not more. Additionally, it’s important to give your muscles enough rest after a workout. Avoid working out the same muscle group within 48 hours of your workout except for abs and calves, as those can be worked out slightly more frequently.
Compound exercises should be the core of your training routine. A compound movement, as opposed to an isolated movement, is an exercise that utilizes more than one muscle group or joint at a time. This type of exercise (think squats, pull ups, bench press) is beneficial because it more accurately simulates real-life activities, where your muscles work together to do what you need to do. Compound movements help you to get a full-bodied workout quicker, burn more calories and improve your coordination and balance. Additionally, compound movements help prevent injuries, improve the stabilizing muscles in your joints and allow you to get stronger more efficiently. Isolated movements (calf raises, bicep curls, lateral raises) are great for complimenting your workout but should not be the focus.
The best way to really challenge each of your muscles is to use it so much that you physically cannot complete another rep. However, after doing a couple of reps with a very high weight, your muscles may still be primed and ready to complete more reps with a lighter weight. That brings us to the greatness of the drop set (or strip set). A drop set is a workout tactic where after the lifter has reached muscle failure, some of the weight is removed and more reps are done until that weight is too excessive, etc. Drop sets are great for recruiting all of your muscle fibers and can help shock your muscles to avoid the dreaded plateau stage. To avoid hurting yourself by overtraining, don’t do more than one drop set per muscle group in any given workout and as always, respond to how your body is feeling.
If you ask ten people about how and when to stretch, there’s a decent chance that you’ll get ten different answers (or at least four, I’ve tried). Stretching has been subject to intense scrutiny and new studies have shed light on counter-intuitive (or counter to what we’ve always been told) practices. Here are the rules: Stretching is extremely important for warming up your body and preventing injuries. However, standard static stretching (where you hold a muscle in a single position for a given period of time) can be detrimental to your workout and should be avoided until you are finished or later in the day. The type of stretching that you should be doing before your workout is called dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching while moving that will properly prepare your muscles for more intense exercise. Movements like shoulder circles, leg swings and hip circles are all great for preventing injuries and getting you ready to go.
Many people think that in order to lose weight, their fitness routine should consist of cardio, cardio and more cardio. They’re wrong. Strength training is beneficial no matter what you are trying to accomplish. Firstly, muscle burns more calories than fat, so building up some muscle will help you lose weight even when you aren’t at the gym. In the same vein, weight lifting spikes your metabolism, so you’ll be burning calories for hours after your workout, as opposed to cardio which basically stops burning calories when you stop doing the cardio. Having cardio in your routine is essential to losing weight, but don’t forget about incorporating some lifting to really give your body what it needs.
Bonus Tip: The general rule is, for size, complete sets of 5-8 reps. For toning/building lean muscle, do sets of 10-13, and always make sure that the last 3 reps are difficult.
When a person begins to workout, they can envision the bulging muscles, cut 6-pack or healthy self-confidence immediately. Unfortunately, the results take a little longer to come around. Although you can obtain the feeling of overall well-being and tightness from only a couple sessions at the gym, seeing significant noticeable results takes quite a bit of time and dedication. You generally need to have a body-fat percentage between 14-7% depending on your body-type to have a 6 pack and you’ll need weeks and weeks of lifting to pack on pounds of muscle. Results don’t come easily, but easy things don’t generally last. Find the motivation and push yourself. When you do see results, you’ll know that you’ve earned it.
Bonus Tip: People are always seeking great abs and do hundreds of crunches to get there. It won’t work. In order to get a 6 pack, you need to lower your body fat, even if you have the strongest abs in the world. Do cardio and lift in order to burn the fat and when working out your abs, perform more up to date exercises like plank, bicycle crunches or hanging leg raises.
Working out is a complex activity that needs a lot of focus, training and dedication. I use different websites and apps to help me stay current with the latest research, count calories and even see if I’m sleeping a healthy amount. There are many fantastic resources out there but it is not always easy to find the one that I want, right when I want it. Well, it wasn’t easy until Wibki. Wibki helps me discover and save lots of different amazing workout websites and apps that I use daily. It’s easy to use, convenient, and it even helps me show my friends which websites they should be using. Check out my workout section here.