We all know that we should exercise, but do we know how to exercise? Perhaps you’re missing a few key factors that could very easily set you back weeks, if not months, if they go unnoticed. Consider today’s Fit Five, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your health and wellness goals!
Fit Tip #1: Start low, Go slow:
This could very well be the one and only tip you consider because it’s so critical. It’s all too common to dive head first into a new routine, which is wonderful. Unfortunately, it can quickly lead you to the injured reserve list. Instead of incorporating weights, cardio, and group class five to six days continuously, your body will likely prefer one or two days a week, to start, with ample rest days in between. Exercise length should also be kept in check in the beginning; therefore, keeping the duration at or below 30 minutes total. If 30 minutes nonstop proves to be too intense, partition your sessions into 10-15 minute blocks, 2-3 times throughout the day. The take home – inadequate rest equals inadequate recovery.
Fit Tip #2: Keep it Loose and Limber:
We’ve been told to stretch before activity for what seems like half a century. Well, the science is in. If you stretch prior to exercise, it is dynamic stretching ONLY. Dynamic stretching is “incorporating movements that mimic a specific sport or exercise in an exaggerated yet controlled manner; often include during the warm-up or in preparation for a sports event.” (ExRx.net). An example of this is performing lateral arm raises prior to doing loaded dumbbell side laterals.
What about holding your stretches? Static stretching is a form of controlled stretching that targets an isolated muscle or body region and should be implemented AFTER the targeted area is warmed up. Static stretches can be held ideally for 15-20 seconds. Fortunately, ballistic “bouncing” stretching is no longer prescribed, as the risk to reward is too high.
Fit Tip #3: Variety is the Spice of Life:
Maybe your goal is to lose weight or to retain or even add muscle. Fantastic! These are excellent attainable, long-term goals! Although, be mindful of affixing to one method alone to attain that goal. If you are repeating the same movements time and time again, these repetitions can lead to muscular imbalances, which can adversely affect your body patterns. It’s advised to add a diverse mixture of exercises to your program to reap the greatest rewards of your efforts. For instance, doing bicep curls exclusively to target the arms will give you great biceps but will leave the backs of your arms, the triceps, under-stimulated. This imbalance will likely lead to injury but could be avoided by incorporating a variety of exercises that target the entire arm.
Cardiovascular exercise is no exception. Sure, your spinning class meets 5-6 times a week. If you only do spinning, though, you are only going to be good at utilizing muscles required for spinning. Therefore, change it up from time to time to establish new movement patterns that challenge the whole body.
Change, Challenge and GROW!
Fit Tip #4: Understand Your Training Weight:
When starting a new weight training regimen, we aren’t quite sure what weight to start with. Are we? The easiest recommendation to adhere to is starting with the lowest resistance possible in all regards. Whether it comes in the form of a machine, dumbbells, or barbell, get familiar with that method before all else. Only after you’ve mastered the movement, slowly add resistance (weight) until you encounter fatigue at 12 repetitions. The 10th, 11th, and 12th repetition should challenge YOU, but should not alter your form. If you find you can perform more than 12 repetitions with good form, increase the weight gradually. Conversely, if you are unable to complete 8 repetitions, lower the resistance. Overall, a weight that puts you between 8-12 repetitions with good form is ideal for weight resistance exercise.
Fit Tip # 5: Listen, your body is talking to YOU:
When people begin an exercise program, they are all in. This is great, yet you don’t want your autonomy to lead you to defeat. It may be time to take a break if you exhibit any of the following.
- Abnormally tired or weak well after you’ve finished exercising.
- Abnormal pain/discomfort during or after exercise.
- Loss of Appetite.
- Personality changes.
- Lack of motivation.
- Decreased mental alertness.
As you can see, overtraining can hide behind many different symptoms. The key to your success is to be aware of your mental and physical state throughout the entire process. It can be just as advantageous to know when to apply the brakes and slow down, as it is to hit the accelerator.
~ Did you know?
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