The new year is upon us and so again are our “New Year’s resolutions” of getting into shape. The difference between successfully obtaining the “resolution” and not is habit- being able to stick to your guns and do those necessary things that result in improved fitness. So enters the “12 exercise tips”; a mixture of 12 tips and exercises to aid you in your quest for flatter stomachs and firmer thighs.

Tip #1 = Frequency
Yea, I know… you have heard it before, but “frequency” is very important in changing your body. Your body is very efficient and it only adapts if it has to. Frequency of exercise causes the body to change to the stresses. You want to exercise 3+ times a week to give the body enough “reason” to change. To get into good shape, we have to do something frequently; after all- we got out of shape because we did nothing frequently..right?

Tip #2 = Form
When exercising you want to make sure that you maintain good form. This allows for the best isolation of the muscle group you are working leading to faster gains. If we “cheat” we not only lose the muscle isolation, but we open the door to injury. An example of good posture is “military posture”; shoulder back, chest out and your ear aligned over your shoulder, your shoulder over your hips, and the knees slightly bent. Modify or stop your exercise when you lose your form due to muscle fatigue.

Tip #3 = Fatigue
Fatigue is another very important factor of fitness. As mentioned above, the body is efficient and responds to the stresses placed upon it. When you tire or fatigue the body responds by becoming stronger and more toned. So whatever exercise you are working on, maintain good form and work until you NEED to rest.

Tip #4 = Functional
Keep your exercises functional, meaning…gear your exercise routine to support those activities you like to do (skiing, running, housework, playing with kids, etc). By doing this you give your exercise more purposeful meaning you will be more likely to do it. Find out what type of exercises support those activities.

Tip #5 = Variation
Varying your exercise routine is very important for 2 reasons:

It keeps you from reaching a plateau; as mentioned in tip #1 and #2, the body is efficient so it adapts. It is very common to hear people talk about how they stop making progress after 2-3 months. If you look at the reason why, it is very often that they follow a set routine that doesn’t change. To keep progressing and to keep your body changing, keep changing and varying your routine.
It keeps you from getting mentally bored. It is safe to say that you don’t do things that bore you. If you get bored of exercising you will stop. Find creative ways to consistently vary your routine.
Tip #6 = How to vary a routine
There are numerous ways to vary a routine:

Changing the number of sets and/or reps
Changing your weight
Changing the speed of your exercise
Changing “angles” of the exercise
bicep curl with palm up, palm down or thumb up
pushup with wide/narrow hand position (hands angled in/out)
Decrease your rest periods
If you shorten your rest periods, you create more fatigue AND your workouts require less time.
Order of your exercises.
If you only know a few exercises, simply change the order in which you do them.
Life happens at many angles, so you want to exercise/train in many different angle….this follows the clich�’ of “prepare for what you do”.

Tip #7 = Large to Small muscle groups
If you are working multiple body parts in an exercise session, you want to work the large muscles first and then the small muscle groups. If you work the small groups first, they get tired and can prevent you from adequately working the larger muscle groups.

Tip #8 = Don’t hold your breath
You want to make sure that you are steadily breathing when you exercise. If lifting weights, breath out during the “hard” phase of the lift and breath in during the “easy” phase. Holding your breath causes a spike in your blood pressure which can cause problems.

Tip #9 = Work your core
The back is the center of the body’s universe: the head, arms, legs all attach to it. If your back begins to give you problems your lifestyle changes dramatically. By working your core (abdominals/hips) you will strengthen your back and therefore enhance your abilities everywhere else.

Tip #10 = Buying Equipment
It is typical for someone who is ambitious to change to want to spend $$ on home exercise equipment; the problem is that it usually ends up being a clothes rack after a few months. Before buying equipment for home start simple. Get a couple of inexpensive dumbbells, an exercising resistance band and begin walking or jogging. If you can stay consistent with your workouts for 2 months, invest more into your equipment. This allows you to create a habit then invest money into in.

Tip #11 = Slow motions
As our muscles get tired when we exercise, people will speed up the rate that they are moving the weight. This is a form of “cheating”, we drop the weight more quickly which is using gravity not muscular effort and we will use more body motion (swaying) to complete the lift. Slow motions create more fatigue and best isolate the muscle group while preventing injury.

Tip #12 = Get a buddy
Working out with someone is a great way to have more fun and to hold yourself accountable. There will be times that you do not want to work out, but will go to the gym anyway because you will have a friend who is expecting you. Find a buddy who has similar goals so you can push and encourage each other a long the way.

For more information contact your physical therapist. Good Luck!

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