The 5: Making your best year

The 5: Making your best year

If getting into better shape is paramount for you this year, I have some good news: It's not as hard as it may seem. Well, I take that back -- it is hard. Very hard, in fact. It requires a great deal of effort, time, and commitment. But, the part that isn't as hard as you may think is figuring out how to actually go about doing it.

The 5: Making your best year

Here are five fairly simple workout tips that will help you make your best year yet.

5. Set short-term goals. While it's great that you've already made the conscious decision to become fit, it's equally as important that you set your sights on a more proximate goal. Is there a dress you want to fit into by March? Do you want to be able to run 3 miles by the end of February? Would you like to lose 4 pounds by the end of next week? By having realistic short-term goals set, you will be motivated by a continuous sense of accomplishment once you achieve them.

4. Use resistance training. Men, women, teens, and older adults can all benefit greatly from workouts involving either free weights and/ or resistance bands and machines. Throw away the misinformation of ten years ago -- resistance training will NOT make you big and bulky (unless it is your goal to look that way, in which case it can). Not only will you burn more calories than just doing cardio by itself, but you will also increase muscle and bone strength.

3. Mix things up. Try to change your workout about every 4 to 6 weeks to avoid reaching a results plateau. Bear in mind that change can be as drastic as performing an entirely different workout, or it can come in the form of something far more simple, such as reducing rest time in between resistance training sets or increasing the speed on the treadmill. As a general rule, though, the more experienced exerciser you are, the more necessary it becomes for the changes you make to be greater.

2. Target major muscles. Don't squander your valuable workout time by isolating single muscles. Rather than performing bicep curls or triceps press downs, focus your attention on moves that target multiple muscles at once. Pull-ups, bench press, squats, deadlifts, and the clean-and-press are exercises are all examples of such exercises. Leave the isolation exercises to folks that have been training for several years and wish to put some finishing touches on their physiques.

1. Stay focused. Remember, when you're working out (especially when you're at the gym), it's not time to socialize. You cannot keep your goals in sight when they are out of focus, which is why you would do well to steer clear of unnecessary banter until your workout is done. Keep your mind on your muscles; visualize them actually working as you perform each exercise. This mind-muscle connection is crucial to achieving maximum results in the shortest amount of time.

These five tips should get you on track, but it's up to you make sure that you don't become derailed. Best of luck in making 2008 your best year ever!!

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