Starting a New Exercise Program
Eight Tips to Remember When Beginning a Workout
As the new year starts, there are millions of people who are making fitness commitments and starting to exercise. There are plenty of things you should and shouldn't do. To keep it simple, here are a few of the more important things you need to know to get the best results.
Avoid constant repetition. Most people know you're not supposed to work the same muscles, day after day. But if you're going to a fitness class, you might be doing just that. Many classes focus on the same movements and bodyparts, with few variations. That constant repetition puts your body at risk for injury.
Look for classes or programs that target different bodyparts. You might focus on your back one day and legs the next. Check the class rotation. Some classes always work the same bodypart on the same day of the week. If you only workout on a Monday, and that's the day they do chest, you're not getting a balanced workout. Find classes that rotate different muscles on the same day of the week.
Don't push till your muscles fail every time. Intensity is good, but your muscles aren't designed to be pushed to their limit every exercise. Focus on your form, take time to move through the motions properly and keep your body in control. As you get stronger, increase the weight, or how many reps you're doing, or both. When people push their body till they collapse every time, their form gets sloppy and injuries happen.
You don't have to be sore after every workout. Muscles soreness is a natural part of working out. You're going to experience it, and it'll happen more the first few weeks and months you exercise. But if you feel muscle pain after every workout, you may be pushing yourself too much.
Don't treat sleep and food as an afterthought. During a workout, you're actually making microscopic tears in your muscles. It's the food, water and rest when you finish that helps your body rebuild and bring you back stronger. Skip meals and your body eats muscle for energy instead of fat. Skipping water makes you feel hungry and tired. Skipping sleep gives your muscles less time to grow. If you eat properly and sleep enough, it'll reduce how sore you feel.
Lots of sweat isn't necessarily the sign of a good workout. In fact, working out in temperatures that exceed 72 degrees Fahrenheit can dramatically reduce your ability to workout. Every degree hotter it gets, saps your strength. Working out in 80 degrees Fahrenheit can actually cut the effectiveness of your workout in half. Long-term you don't build as much muscle, because you couldn't exercise as hard. You also don't lose as much fat, because the extra water weight you lose in a hot gym is put right back on the moment you take a drink.
Muscles aren't just built with free weights and exercise machines, there are other options. Muscles are built with resistance and that resistance can come from many places. Two popular alternatives are bodyweight exercises and resistance bands. Don't think you have to perform a traditional bodybuilding program to see results. As long as you're doing some kind of resistance exercises, a minimum of twice a week, you should see progress.
Abs are built primarily in the kitchen, not the gym. Yes, core strengthening exercises are important. Yes, there are plenty of exercises you can do to increase abdominal strength. But if you want abs people see and admire, you have to measure and track the food you're eating. Thousands of situps won't burn that belly fat off. A reasonable diet and strength building exercises will.
Finally, don't exercise every single day. Your muscles need time to heal and recuperate. It's tempting to plan an aggressive schedule when you start, but it'll do you no good if you quit a few weeks later. Now that you know, are you ready to begin?
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