10 S.M.A.R.T Workout Tips for 2013
Welcome to the New Year 2013! Let’s start the New Year on track to reach your fitness goals. The key to success and fitness success is setting “SMART” goals.
These are goals that are Specific, Meaningful, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
Each person will have a unique set of fitness goals, but incorporating this technique has the potential to assist you to achieve your “SMART” fitness goals for 2013.
Below are ten tips that can guide you to set and accomplish your 2013 “SMART” goals.
10. Set your fitness goals for the entire year of 2013 along with each month.
Working out consistently for one full year has the potential to yield more effective results, which will also motivate you to continue your workout routine to 2014 and to the years following. A full year of achieving “SMART” fitness goals may also provide a strong feeling of satisfaction in your new and improved fitness routine. This is a key to success because this serves as the “timely” criteria for your “SMART” fitness goals.
9. Make your fitness routine one of your top priorities.
This is where “relevance” plays a role in defining your “SMART” 2013 fitness goals. With a scarcity for time and energy, it is essential to have your workouts at the top of your priority list. If something is important to us, we are likely to make a conscious effort to accomplish that goal. We will take the necessary and proper steps to achieve the fitness goals we have set for ourselves as a result. One way to help keep fitness a priority in your life is by getting a personal trainer to push you through times where you feel defeated – often times this is when the biggest gains are made.
8. Listen to your body.
The belief of “no pain, no gain” can become a serious problem to our health and safety when exercising. There are instances where we may feel fatigued or muscle soreness from running or lifting weight for instance. This is very normal for those that workout daily. However, our bodies send us alert signals when we may be facing injuries. You may want to adjust your cardio intensity if you experience knee pain consistently from running for example. Taking precautionary measures can mitigate pain, and increase the longevity of working out.
7. Stay focused one day at a time.
It is impossible to accomplish a long-term fitness goal in one workout. Therefore, it is ideal to get the most out of each workout session without trying to do too much. You want your goals to be “attainable” and “specific” to achieve. A solid analogy to relate to is training for a marathon. It is not expected that someone run the entire 26.2 miles at the end of week one of training. The body may be trained to run 5, 6, or 7 miles, but trying to run the entire marathon is not realistic and could potentially result in injury. This would then be a setback to achieving the goal of completing a marathon distance.
6. Consume a consistent healthy diet.
Half the battle to achieving your 2013 fitness goals is maintaining your workout routine. The other half is keeping a healthy diet. This is a vital foundation to reach our 2013 fitness goals. The food that we put into our bodies gives us the necessary energy to operate and exercise. Eating healthy with moderation of indulging will help you maintain the proper levels of energy to accomplish your “SMART” fitness goals for 2013!
5. Be Optimistic.
Accomplishing your 2013 fitness goals requires a positive attitude. If your goal is to drop excess weight or increase muscle mass, you must remain positive even when you feel that you are struggling or lacking motivation. It is normal to hit roadblocks during your workout regiment. How these roadblocks are approached and overcome can help you become successful in achieving your fitness goals for 2013.
4. Allow for recovery.
The human body needs rest to recover properly. This said, schedule at least one day off from rigorous workouts. This does not mean you can’t engage in any physical activity on your day off. Instead, you can go on a relaxing walk or a light swim for example. Doing so will allow your body to recover while still getting a solid aerobic exercise.
3. Utilize variation.
The boredom of a daily or weekly routine can be avoided by creating changes for those who get bored rather quickly or easily. For example, try a variety of cardio workouts instead of just one or two such as only running and using an elliptical machine. During 2013, attempt a variety of exercises such as swimming, soccer, basketball, racquetball, etc. This should help you stay fresh and excited about reaching your “SMART” fitness goals for 2013.
2. Assess your progress.
It is essential that you recognize your progress and improvement through your workout routine to accomplish your 2013 fitness goals. Establishing and recognizing benchmarks will provide you tangible results that you can compare to your 2013 fitness goals. Assessing your progress makes your 2013 “SMART” fitness goals “meaningful” to you. Ultimately, you will be able to understand your goal status and what course of action needs to take place to conquer your fitness goals for 2013.
1. Have fun!
Exercising should be something you enjoy. There should be some level of thrill and excitement for you to reach your 2013 fitness goals. Having fun helps this process because it will feel like a hobby rather than a job you have to complete. This attitude and outlook is a foundation and guide to accomplishing your “SMART” 2013 fitness goals!
Photo Credit: http://redd.it/17dfuy
The F.I.T.T. Principle is a concept used by our personal trainers at NLF as a means to keep workouts unique and varied. This concept, and the variations it provides, has several purposes:
- Helps to lower the risk of injury
- Lowers the likelihood of hitting plateaus (where further development becomes difficult)
- Helps keep workouts fresh and interesting
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
F.I.T.T. stands for: Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type.
- Frequency – How often you should perform a particular exercise (e.g. how many days a week)
- Intensity – How hard you should lift or perform a particular exercise (e.g. resistance/weight, speed, tempo, etc.)
- Time – How much time you should spend on a particular exercise in any given session (e.g. 30 – 45 minutes on cardio, 1 hour on a muscle group, etc.)
- Type – What kind of exercise you should perform for a particular muscle group or movement
For those who are looking to lose weight or get in better shape overall, follow these guidelines to increase the productivity of your workouts!
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Cardio – At least 3 sessions a week is suggested; 5 to 7 sessions a week is even better. The more often you can push yourself, the faster your cardiovascular abilities will improve. However, it’s not recommended to perform much more often than this, as you risk wearing yourself out.
Strength/Resistance – 3 to 5 sessions of full-body exercise a week is suggested. If your sessions are targeting a specific muscle group only, you can perhaps perform twice this many. In any event, you want to make sure you give each muscle group a day to rest between sessions, so as not to increase the risk of injury.
Cardio – Low to moderate intensity is advised for most individuals starting out. Keep to a lower heart rate zone. The harder you push yourself, the less time you’ll be able to spend exercising.
Keep to a reasonable tempo to increase the amount of time you can spend. More experienced individuals should try to maintain a higher heart rate zone in order to see benefits.
You’ll need to know what your maximum heart rate is in order to determine an appropriate amount of intensity.
- To find your maximum heart rate, use the following formula:
- 220 – your age = maximum heart rate
- If you are less experienced with cardio, you should aim for 55 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate.
- If you are more advanced, aim for 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heat rate.
- Don’t try to go above 80 percent of your maximum heart rate unless you are very advanced!
Strength – Don’t kill yourself! Injuring yourself is all too easy if you ignore the signs your body sends you. Don’t lift more weight than you can handle just because it seems like the most obvious way to push yourself.
If you find yourself struggling, there’s a number of ways you can switch up your workout to try to compensate. Many of the alternate methods work well with lighter weights, too.
- Increase workload by increasing the amount of weight you lift, forcing your muscles to work harder. Be careful not to overdo it, though.
- Increase workload by increasing the number of sets and/or reps you perform, forcing your muscles to work longer. Don’t be afraid to use lighter weights when doing this.
- Increase workload by decreasing rest times between sets, limiting the amount of time your muscles have to recover.
- Increase workload by slowing down the motions of each exercise, forcing each muscle to work longer, and distributing the work more evenly amongst a muscle group.
Cardio – The amount of time to perform depends somewhat on your conditioning level. If you are new to cardio training, start with 20 – 30 minutes or so, and work up.
Individuals with better cardio conditioning should aim for 45 minutes to an hour. Remember, the 30 – 45 minutes need to be performed consecutively—any less than this shouldn’t be considered a “full session”!
If you can’t last for a full 30 minutes, consider doing a less demanding activity, or lowering your pacing so you can go longer. Also, any sessions over an hour are probably not going to provide much extra benefit to most people.
Strength – At least 30 – 45 minutes in the weight room is recommended. This should give you ample time to perform multiple sets of exercises on each muscle group you are targeting.
If you are spending less time than this, then it’s possible that you are perhaps not working hard enough to get any significant benefit. Of course, if you are only targeting one specific muscle group for your workout session, you may not need the full 45 minutes.
Cardio – You want to perform exercises which have large motions and use large muscle groups, or multiple muscle groups at once. This includes activities like running, stair-climbing, bicycling, elliptical, or swimming.
When starting off, you should try to stick with exercises that are low-impact, like the elliptical or bicycle, as high-impact exercises are more likely to cause injury if you’re untrained—especially for the long periods of time you’ll need to see maximum benefit.
Strength – You should start with basic exercises that challenge your balance. By improving your balance, you’ll improve your entire foundation, which will in turn make more advanced (and strenuous) exercises easier to perform, and lower your risk of injury from bad form.
All too often, individuals who are looking to improve the shape they are in are too quick to jump into advanced workouts without properly warming up.
They’re physically capable of lifting weights and performing basic exercise movements, so they think this is all they need to do—and then, they injure themselves doing anything complex, or complain of aches and pains.
Why is this?
Because in their haste to get right into “real” exercise, they neglect a proper warmup.
Little do they realize that a proper warmup can take as little as 10-to-15 minutes of their time, and significantly improve the quality of their workouts. A warmup of stretching important muscle groups and performing any corrective exercises would improve overall mobility and reduce the risk of injury, allowing them to push themselves harder and recover more effectively after each session.
What kinds of stretches should you perform?
Ideally, you should really perform a variety of stretches to loosen up your entire body, even if you don’t plan on working out certain parts of your body.
The reason why this is the case is because issues tend to build from the ground-up. If you have any tightness or problems with muscles or joints in your lower body, then muscles higher up on your body will need to work in order to compensate—and, in turn, this causes muscles still higher up to have to compensate for the muscles below.
The result is, for example, that you can have pain in your back, shoulders, or neck that are actually caused by issues with in your legs that are affecting your balance in some way; because your balance is off, your upper body will need to exert additional work to perform correctly—or, in some cases, the imbalance will cause your muscles to work incorrectly altogether, causing pain or discomfort.
So even if you aren’t actively planning on exercising your lower body in any given workout session, you should always perform some basic stretches to get your lower body muscles warmed up, so as not to disturb the balance of the rest of your body. And, of course, you should always give additional attention to the muscle groups you ARE working out in any given session!
Generally speaking, there’s a few common areas that provide frequent irritation to athletes; most of these are on the back side of the body. These include the calves, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, lower back, shoulders, and neck. Most of these are responsible for providing support to the body is some way or another, and as such, keeping these in good condition is very important.
Stretches can be roughly divided into two categories: static and dynamic. Static stretches involve taking a position, and holding it for a period of time—usually about 20 seconds. Dynamic stretches involve moving part of your body through a certain range, and are usually repeated a few times in order to maximize their effectiveness—perhaps 8 to 10 reps or so.
A complete list of stretches could potentially cover an entire website of its own. So, here’s a well-rounded list of stretches that we highly recommend you perform before any session of exercise. Ask your trainer if you’re not sure how to do them!
- Standing calf stretch (against the wall)
- Single-legged hamstring stretch/reach
- Crossover glute stretch (seated on ground)
- “Hollywood” stretch (for lower back)
- “Hurdler” stretch (one leg folded in, reach for straight leg)
- Single-leg quad stretch (from Hurdler stretch, lying on side)
- Supine crossover stretch (for lower back)
- Cat/dog stretch (for mid back)
- Neck/shoulder stretch
For suggestions on additional stretches to supplement specific workout routines, ask your trainer.
What is a “corrective exercise”? What kind of corrective exercises should you perform?
A “corrective exercise” has the same basic goal as a stretch—to loosen up a tight or problematic muscle group to improve its mobility.
However, whereas a stretch is intended to help prevent issues with joints and muscle groups, a corrective exercise is used when a specific joint or muscle group already has an issue of some kind that is affecting performance. A corrective exercise may also not involve much actual “stretching”, although a number of them do. Unlike many resistance or cardio training exercises, corrective exercises usually do not require much equipment to perform, and can usually be done from home.
For example, let’s say we have a runner with chronically tight calf muscles. As mentioned above, tight calf muscles can affect your overall balance; this imbalance can lead to pain in the knees and lower back, as well as “shin splints”, which are sharp pains in the front of the lower leg that commonly afflict runners or people who perform high-impact cardio exercises.
Simple stretching might not loosen up the calf muscles enough to alleviate the issue. A corrective exercise which can increase the range of motion of the calf muscles, and loosen them up more thoroughly, will help remedy the other pains resulting from the over-tight calf muscles.
Corrective exercises, as a subject, are a little bit more complex than stretches, since most exercises are used to try to resolve a specific, preexisting issue—unless you have a good understanding of any mobility issues you may have, trying to perform corrective exercises may not be an effective use of your time.
Speak with your trainer if you think you have mobility issues that are holding you back; your trainer should be able to diagnose your issue(s) and recommend appropriate corrective exercises for you to perform.
Myofascial release and you
Sometimes, tense areas of the body can be difficult to stretch out normally—areas such as the gluteal muscles or iliotibial band (“IT band”).
One option is myofascial release, which is applying physical pressure to a tense muscle group in order to loosen up stiffness and break up any scar-tissue that may be present.
This is sort of like a massage, and can in fact be done by hand by a properly trained masseuse or chiropractor. However, there are also options available for self-performed myofascial release. Applying pressure to the afflicted area using a round, firm object—like a foam roller or hard sports ball—can have the desired effect of breaking up tension or scar-tissue.
Oftentimes, significant pressure will be necessary to achieve any result—rest the afflicted part of your body on the ball or roller (or similar object of choice), adjust your balance so that your weight is being supported by the object, and then roll back and forth on the object so that it can dig deeply into the afflicted muscle group.
Working out doesn’t always require a gym membership or expensive pieces of workout equipment.
If you’re looking to get in a really quick and effective workout that will get the blood flowing and make you sweat, try my Nebraska Workout!
Every one of my clients absolutely love and hate the Nebraska series.
It’s one part convenient and one part absolutely brutal! Everyone from traveling businessmen to stay-at-home moms love this workout because they can do this anywhere, anytime with little to no equipment whatsoever.
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:
Choose any number of exercises and list them off on a piece of paper. Keep it simple! If you don’t know of many simple, body-weight exercises, Google some!
With the list of exercises, do TEN repetitions of each exercise in consecutive order.
When you finish the entire list, do NINE of each exercise.
When you complete nine of each of the exercises, follow with EIGHT of each of them.
As you can tell, there’s a pattern. You perform the list with 10 reps of each, and then repeat all the way down till you finish with only one repetition of each exercise on the list.
Here’s an example of what I like to do:
- Jumping Jacks
- Push Ups
- Mountain Climbers
- Body Squats
- Squat Jumps
- Split Squat Jumps
- Sit Ups
- Leg Lifts
Do 10 of each, 9 of each, 8 of each, so on and so forth! The goal is to do this all without resting… at all!
Take it gradually and keep pushing yourself. It’s tough and you’ll hate it, but you need to stay motivated to get results.
If you’re serious about getting fit and want some extra help to get you there guaranteed, you should look into getting a personal trainer.