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Ten Tips for a Better Workout

Write up your workouts before going to the gym.
Write up your workouts before going to the gym.

Going to the gym is how many people get in shape. But the difference between success and failure is what you do while you're there. If you've already committed to workout, here are things you can do to make the most of your time.

Decide what you want to accomplish before you start. Is your goal to lose weight, build muscle, improve your balance or increase your flexibility? Each of those things requires something different. You may want to do everything, but you need to figure out which is the most important thing you're going to focus on.

Your goal needs to be written down in the form of a workout plan. Moving from one random exercise to the next can slow you down, increase your risk of injury and dramatically reduce your chances for success.

Get expert advice. Some apps can build appropriate programs suited to your goals. Look for ones that provide instructional videos to guide you. If you want more in-depth help, explore small group classes. Consider a personal trainer if you're dealing with more complicated medical issues or want a program designed specifically for you.

You don't have to use a personal trainer for every workout. Many will build you a program and take you through the workouts a couple of times. Then you can workout on your own for a month or two before going back and getting a new routine.

Start every workout with a warmup. Ride bike for a few minutes, jog, using a rowing machine or jump on an elliptical. It's important to get blood pumping to your muscles before you start lifting.

Workout more than one body part at a time. Routines that target multiple muscles burn more calories. You might start the week with a PUSH (targeting chest, shoulders and triceps), followed by PULL (back and biceps) and finishing off with LEGS (calves, glutes, hamstrings and quads.) Another option is to hit all UPPER body muscles in one workout; then all LOWER body muscles the next.

Use more weights, fewer machines. One of the advantages of using a machine is that it's quick and easy. You jump on, change some pins and go. Many machines are also designed to help you maintain proper form.

When you lift free weights like a dumbbell, you're doing more than moving the weight. You have to concentrate on the entire range of motion to maintain proper form. At the same time, smaller stabilizer muscles are called in to help. Machines often don't force you to use those smaller muscles, so they're not as effective at building strength over time.

Put your hardest workouts early in the week. Motivation tends to run high on Mondays but tapers off by Friday. Get the tough stuff out of the way, so you're less likely to skip at the end.

Fuel your body appropriately. Eat before a workout to make sure you have enough energy to finish. Eat after a workout, so your body gets what it needs to rebuild. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. You wouldn't fill the gas tank in your car with sugar. You should give the same consideration to your body.

Use your phone as a tool, not a distraction. Phones are great for tracking workouts, recording cardio sessions and playing music. They shouldn't be used for talking, texting or surfing social media while you're exercising. Stay focused, and you'll get a more effective workout done in less time.

Workout with a partner to keep you motivated. When you feel like skipping a day, it's much harder to do if someone is waiting for you. Just be sure it's not someone who wants the spend the entire time talking. If they're not doing the same exercises or are not on the same level as you, do your own thing. But you should still keep meeting them, so you have someone who's holding you accountable.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

8/27/2020