You have probably heard at least a dozen “Best Fitness Tips” in the past few months; just take a walk down the magazine isle at your local grocery store and you will probably find a stack of magazines touting the newest fitness trend or weight lifting technique that will rock you to the next level. I used to get sucked into these magazines all the time with little satisfaction at the end! Our personal trainers here at Blitz Conditioning sat down and rifled through all of our textbooks and magazines and compiled a list of the 10 most credible fitness tips and here they are:
Start with Activating Your Core:
If you have ever been to Blitz Conditioning you’ll probably hear all of our trainers yelling: “Core!” like it’s a lost puppy and we’re trying to find it. Core is our internal support system: it protects us from injury and allows us to translate our bodies movement into moving objects or lifting things. When we consciously activate our core we are ensuring that we lift properly and safely and it also burns more calories!
Set Your Shoulders In:
Try this out: while standing, shrug your shoulders up as if you are going to touch your shoulders to your ears, bring your shoulders back as far as you can go and let them hang down. Feel that? your posture has all of a sudden improved, you are standing taller and, oh wait, yeah you’re core is engaged too! Do this whenever you can remember when you are working and also when you are exercising. While exercising, setting your shoulders in allows all of your muscles to lift in an anatomically correct way, so you can actually use more muscles!
Hit as Many Muscle Groups as Possible in One Move:
Isolation and machines are great and I always recommend that a portion of our exercise regimen includes isolation but really we should be emphasizing whole body workouts! Our day to day lives rarely involves using only one muscle group in isolation so why train that way? Think about it: when opening a door, we actually use arms, shoulders, back, core, and legs! Exercises focusing on multiple muscle groups is functional it increases range of motion and applicable to real life and to boot it gets your heart rate going and burns more calories like we said in our previous article.
Do “One Sided” Exercises:
Us Personal trainers at Blitz Conditioning love doing these challenging one armed or one legged exercises with our members. They’re more challenging since balance and core strength are challenged and you end up hitting so many of those smaller muscles that a regular two handed exercise probably would not hit. Try it out, if you normally do a bench press with two dumbbells, try just using one at a time and feel your abs on the opposite side of your body flex while you’re doing it!
Workout to Increase Range of Motion:
Exercise also helps to increase your flexibility and range of motion! We actually use very little of all of our joint’s ranges of motions in our daily lives, if we sit at a desk for 8 hours or more or work in the same repetitive way every day our bodies become weaker in the ranges that we don’t use as often. While exercising, make sure you use the joints in their fullest ranges of motion in a safe way. If you already exercise and haven’t done this before, back down on the weight and then workout with full range of motion.
Stop using Machines, use Free Weights:
One of the things most people are surprised about when they start working out with us at Blitz Conditioning is that we have no machines whatsoever! While machines are great for isolating one muscle group, they rarely hit the smaller support muscles that free weights, medicine balls, kettle bells, elastic cables, and other implements use. Machines have potential for increasing injury actually! Machines are designed for a specific body type and height; even if there are levers, pins and ratchets to adapt the machine they really are not very adaptable. Ever sit down on a machine and feel about as uncomfortable as wearing someone else’s still warm shirt? If it doesn’t feel right, don’t use it. Free weights are great for increasing core engagement in even basic movements like a chest press, you are actually able to hit more muscle groups. The whole point in strengthening the body is not to focus on strengthening one muscle group alone but all of them in a way that we can use them in real life situations.
Warm up, don’t stretch:
People used to perform static stretches before exercising but the research is really showing that it’s bad for two reasons: 1) it reduces your muscles power, 2) there’s an increased chance of some injuries if you stretch before exercising. Warm up with 5 minutes of body weight exercises like squats, push ups and lunges. Light exercise before exercise is the best warm up!
Intervals… Intervals… Intervals!
It’s time you ignore your heart rate monitor’s “Fat Burning Zone” because frankly it’s a lie! do 15 to 20 minutes of interval training instead of an hour of slow cardio. Studies show two benefits of interval training: this short intense burst of 20 minutes of exercise actually burns just the same as an hour of slow cardio, and intervals allow for the after burn effect.
Eat or drink something after you exercise:
It’s quite important that within 45 minutes of exercise we consume a mix of proteins, carbs and, yes, fats; this helps you to build muscle, recover faster, and feel less pain. I always advocate that normal, healthy, food is always best in general and this definitely applies to post-workout too. If you are not able to eat a regular meal after a workout try a chocolate milk! Your body really does not differentiate between chocolate milk and some powder that promises to infuse branched chained amino acids with a 30 second delivery to your… whatever the claim is.. stop taking them. Chocolate milk has one of the best balances of proteins, carbs and fats that you can get and it’s way cheaper!
Make health a LIFESTYLE!
I left this one as the last one because it’s the most important one. I’ve said this before: fitness goals are great but stop going from one 90 day challenge to the next. I’ve been asked multiple times in that past few months some iteration of this question: “You work so much and you’re all over town going from social engagement to the next, how do you keep motivated to exercise?” My simplest response is, I never motivate myself, I just show up and do it. Health is a lifestyle, it’s not something you buy in a bottle that promises to cleanse, or to make you loose 20 pounds, it’s not a 30 day challenge that people pay in to, and it’s certainly not a cheap deal that you get on the internet. Striving to keep a healthy lifestyle is a long term perspective striving to attain fulfillment so even if I screw up for one day, a week, or a month for that matter, I get back on the wagon and forget about the lost time and how far I’ve gone away from “goals”. We challenge our bodies through fitness because it’s fun! If you’ve never felt this before my one suggestion is to just exercise for the sake of exercising, forget about your goals for a week, you’ll find that you enjoy it infinitely more.
So those our Blitz Conditioning’s Top 10 Exercise tips, do you have a few that you use all the time? Add them in the comment section below!