Complicated doesn't necessarily mean better. Here are some simple exercise strategies that can be done easily, quickly and with great results, even if you are a beginner.
- Get Off the Machines. Free weights require more muscle activation for stabilization and control of movements, which means you burn more calories with every exercise. Muscles require energy to contract; the more energy you use with a movement, the more calories you burn and the leaner you get – assuming you don't overdo training and maintain good form.
- Keep Yourself Hydrated. Did you know that being dehydrated makes you fatter? Why? Because muscle glycogen (sugar energy created from ingested carbohydrates) is stored along with water. For every gram of glycogen in the muscle, there should be three of water. Dehydration forces glucose to remain in the bloodstream instead of muscle until it reaches the liver for overflow storage. When the liver is full, the glycogen (sugar) has no place to go but your fat cells. Not good!
- Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan. How can you hit a target you can't even see? Set your goals and then document your progress via a journal, computer or cell phone application. This is the only verifiable way you can determine what does and does not work over time. Write down everything, from what you eat to when you eat, training programs, how you felt during and after workouts, etc. Take pictures of yourself as you progress to attach the visible senses to your goal.
- Focus on the Core. For most people, your workout is motivated (at least to some degree) by the drive to improve your appearance. A prime target related to that goal invariably involves the elusive abdominals. Most people target the midsection with crunches or sit-ups. Although these are good examples of isolation exercises for the abdominals, you should also integrate alternative exercises that develop strength within all muscle groups of the core. This will provide you with the best foundation to push through the tough workouts in pursuit of your best body.
Despite a willingness to blame ourselves, our genetics or our hectic schedules, when fitness or weight-loss failure arises, bad information is just as big a culprit to destroying our potential. Misinformation can easily override good intentions and even hard work when it comes to getting in shape. The three important factors to remember when trying to get in shape are “eating like an athlete, exercising aerobically in moderation, and challenging muscle”. All three elements are crucial if the goal is a long-term positive physical change.
Once you learn to apply these strategies comfortably into your life, you'll get the payoff for the time you've invested in your fitness program. Implement these strategies and “fitness failure” will no longer be an option!