The 1st of January has come and gone. You either decided to set some resolutions this year or put them off once again. As the owner of Anytime Fitness, we see an influx in everyone’s motivation in January. There’s just something about a new year that gives you a chance to start over and get it right. What we’ve noticed is that many exercisers don’t make the best use of their gym time. So to make sure your workouts are productive this year, let me give you 7 guidelines that will help get you better results.
- Lift weights – And no, I don’t mean the really light ones with the bright colors. Light weights and high reps is a thing of the past. If you want your body to really change, you need to be lifting a weight that is challenging for you. It will require you to get out of your comfort zone and do things a little differently, but isn’t that the point when it comes to getting your body to change? If the weight you are lifting is challenging enough for you, it will recruit more muscle fibers, which means a boost to your metabolism. If you want lean muscle instead of the flab, start by lifting weights.
- Get your butt off the machines – The average American sits down the majority of their day – either behind a desk, in the car, or in the recliner with their feet up. The last place you want to find yourself when you go to the gym is sitting down on a machine. Too much sitting leads to muscle imbalances and poor posture. So instead of sitting down on the chest press machine, stand on your feet and do the same movement using cables or bands. It will force you to engage your core as well as train the muscles of your upper body.
- Train movements, not muscles – Isolation training, or training one body part at a time, has gone the way of the dinosaur. Unless you are training to be a bodybuilder, you should focus your workouts on training movements, not muscles. Basic human movements such as a squat, a lunge, a hip hinge, a push and a pull should be incorporated into your routines. By taking the movement approach, your body becomes more balanced from head to toe, left to right, and front to back.
- Harness the power of foam rolling – Next time you are in the gym and you see a strange looking cylinder made out of foam stashed in a corner with the rest of his friends, pick it up, sit on it and start rolling. As I mentioned before, most of us sit way too much, so our muscles become tight. Think of foam rolling as thinning out dough with a rolling pin. Your muscles are all knotted up, and by foam rolling you will work out the kinks, giving you more mobility for your workout.
- Don’t forget to warm up – So you just left work, where you were behind your desk all day, then you sat in your car to drive over to the gym. Your muscles are cold and tight, but you skip any sort of warm up and head full speed into your workout. Big mistake. Your body needs to warm up properly before you start your workout. And hopping on a treadmill for a couple minutes or doing some light stretching won’t get the job done. A good dynamic warm up takes about 10-12 minutes and will increase blood flow and heart rate, warm up your core temperature, and typically includes movements that not only lengthen your muscles but take them through the full range of motion.
- Train the core (correctly) – We’ve all been told we need to improve our core strength. Many of us struggle with back pain and then are told it’s because our core is weak. So we resort to crunches or sit-ups to do the trick. However, the research shows that those type of exercises actually can increase low back pain. Instead, training the core should be based around exercises that prevent flexion (or a rounding of the upper back). Exercises like planks, side planks, rollouts and static holds will help build a stronger and more defined midsection, without the risk of causing low back pain.
- Intensity is everything – If you are serious about changing your body, you need to work out with some intensity. Spending an hour on the treadmill walking leisurely and reading a book might be a good escape from reality, but in order to get the results you want, you’re going to have to break a sweat and get after it. Next time you set aside time for a workout, monitor your intensity level to make sure you are pushing hard enough. Don’t get reckless and overdo it to the point of making yourself sick. But when you are finished, you should feel like you worked hard and got your butt kicked.
Our time is valuable, so it’s imperative that you spend your time working out doing what is right and best for your body and goals. If you have questions or need help, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org