The exercise advice and tips included below cover several important aspects about nutrition and training to help you achieve the body you desire. We will discuss the role nutrition plays in your overall fitness plan, along with strength training and cardiovascular exercise. In order to really get the results you’re looking for, you must focus on each of these 3 critical areas if you want long-lasting and impressive results! Below are 10 tips to help you succeed with your fitness plan.
Tip #1 – Keep a Training Journal
Always make sure to keep a detailed training journal when you’re following a fitness plan. By keeping a journal of your training sessions, you will have a detailed log of every exercise you perform along with reps, sets and how much weight you lifted. It’s also great to document how you felt before, during and after your training session along with any food and supplements you took before and after your workout. By keeping an exercise journal, you will have access to a wealth of information and be able to detect specific areas in your current training routine which can be tweaked and improved upon.
One of the biggest mistakes most people make is to continue with a training routine that simply does not work. As the old saying goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results”. Don’t let exercise insanity set in. Make sure to always switch up your training routines and document each one of them into your exercise journal. When you look back on your training journal, you will see specific patterns where you are succeeding and also where you’re falling short. One of the most important pieces of exercise advice is to find out what works, but more importantly, the things that don’t work. When you know the areas to avoid, your progress will skyrocket! You can download our FitTracker Fitness Tracking App for your iPhone and Android phone to get started tracking your workouts today!
Tip #2 – Stay Mentally Focused
When you decide to exercise, try to really stick to your training routine and don’t get sidetracked by too much socializing. When you socialize with friends, your mind usually starts to wander off and you really start to lose focus on your main objective, which is to train hard. You can always meet up with your friends after your workout and catch up on old times. A great way to focus and keep your training session upbeat and exciting is to invest in a mp3 player and load your favorite music on it. Jam out with some cool upbeat techno, hip-hop or hard rock to get your energy levels up so you can get excited during your workout. You will also notice when having your headphones on, you will limit the amount of people who tend to come up and want to chat. If you see friends in the gym, say a quick hello and get back to work.
If you notice your friends trying to get your attention during your workout, just simply tell them you need to finish training and ask them if you can meet up after your workout. You will feel so much better knowing you focused 100% of your energy into your training.
Tip #3 – Have a Detailed Exercise Plan
You would never build a house without a site plan, would you? You would never just pick up a hammer, some nails and start pounding away mindlessly. Just like building a house, when you build your body, you need a plan to follow.
Don’t just wander in the gym and pick out the first five exercises machines you see. Have a detailed plan of action and know which body part you will be training, which exercises you will be using and a specific repetition and set range you will be using. When you have a good exercise plan, you will know exactly what you need to do and your training session will have a smooth flow with no wasted time. To help you plan out your training routine, you can use our exercise guides database below to choose the exercises you want to include in your workouts:
Tip #4 – Maximize Your Windows of Opportunity
You have two key windows of opportunity when it comes to training. One is 30 minutes before you lift weights (pre-workout meal) and another comes about 30-60 minutes after your workout is over (post-workout meal). The pre-workout meal should consist of a starchy carbohydrate and a lean protein. The starchy carbs will supply the energy you need to get through an intense workout. The protein provides the much-needed fuel for your muscles, so they keep a positive nitrogen balance. A pre-workout meal should be consumed 30 minutes before your workout and might consist of 1 cup of natural oatmeal with one scoop of protein powder. Try to stick with whey protein since its fast acting. Mix it with some water and microwave it for about 2 minutes.
Your post-workout meal should be consumed as quickly after your workout as possible. This should consist of a simple sugar to spike your insulin levels and rush glycogen back into your muscles which are screaming for fuel. Try to stick with either dextrose or maltodextrin as your main source of simple sugars. These can be found in your MRP (meal replacement powder). Also, add another dose of protein to the mix. If you are using a post-workout dextrose based drink, add another scoop of whey protein to it. If you are drinking an MRP, you should be perfectly fine. Shoot for around 20-30 grams of protein before your workout and 30-50 grams of protein after your workout. Carbohydrate intake should be about 30-40 grams pre-workout and 60-100 grams post-workout.
Tip #5 – Rest for Muscle Growth
It’s important to remember that your muscles actually grow when you are resting and recovering, not when you’re training in the gym. That’s right, you don’t actually get bigger and stronger while you’re lifting weights. It’s what you do after your workout that’s the real key to muscle growth. If you don’t let your muscles recover correctly, your body will become overtrained and it will be in a state of constant “catch up”. This is definitely not the ideal state that you want your body to be in. Your goal is to prime your body for your next workout and give it enough rest and recuperation to fully optimize your training.
One of the worst things you can do is workout too hard, for too long and suffer from overtraining. This will lead to muscle atrophy (breaking down muscle) and you may even experience the flu if it becomes too severe. When you train, make sure to limit your resistance training sessions to about 45-60 minutes. Your body’s testosterone levels start decreasing after about 45 minutes, so any longer in the gym after that and you will basically be wasting your time. Focus on hitting it with a high level of intensity for 45 minutes and get out of there so you can rest and recover. Take care of business and start your recuperation. When you get back from your workout, you might also try sitting in a Jacuzzi or sauna to relax and let your muscles recover faster. Rest is extremely important when training hard, so make sure to take the time to recover and grow from your training sessions.
Tip #6 – Always Shock Your Muscles
Try to always “trick” your muscles into growth. You never want to do the same exercises, the same reps and the same sets for each and every workout. You should always focus on shocking your muscles in order to force them to adapt to new stimuli. Also, make sure to train at a high level if intensity and really push each set to positive failure (barely getting the last rep up). Also focus on increasing the weight you lift each workout by slowly increasing the poundages by a very small amount (2.5 to 5 pounds). If your muscles get used to lifting a specific amount of weight, then they will never want to get stronger or grow. Always try to trick your muscles with different reps and sets and keep your intensity levels up high enough so they always are forced to grow!
Tip #7 – Try Different Forms of Exercise
If you have always used free weights, then switch it up and try training with machines like “Hammer Strength” or “Nautilus”. These are excellent weight resistance machines and they will really work your muscles from different angles and different intensities. You always want to strive to find new and exciting ways to train your muscles. Try doing a complete bodyweight workout once in a while. The Military uses mainly bodyweight movements during their training. These include push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups. These three key bodyweight exercises will really give you a great overall body workout!
You can also choose from several different forms of training such as using elastic exercise bands. If you’re just starting out, these are an excellent way to learn the basic movements and get the true “feel” to each exercise. You can review some exercises using exercise bands below:
Tip #8 – Avoid Overtraining
We covered this in a previous tip but it’s important to emphasize it again. Always remember that you grow outside the gym, not in it. This basically means to make sure and get enough rest between workouts so you can let your muscles recover and get ready for the next intense workout. You don’t build muscle when you’re in the gym. You build it when you are at home resting after you’re finished training. The basic rule of thumb is to wait at least 48 hours in between workouts for the same muscle group. So, if you trained chest on Monday, then wait until Wednesday until you train chest again. You also want to be aware of the level of soreness your muscles have. If the muscle group you previously trained still feels sore after the 48 hour mark, then make sure to let it rest another day! You want to fully recover from your last workout before hitting that muscle again.
Tip #9 – Monitor Your Body Fat Levels
A very important aspect for learning if you’re on the right track or not, is to monitor your body fat levels. Go to your local sports store and buy some body fat calipers to test your fat levels. Record these levels along with your body weight each week and start to monitor these changes. You want to make sure you’re building quality muscle mass and burning body fat, and not the other way around. By monitoring the changes in lean body weight, you will be able to tell whether or not you are replacing adipose tissue (fat) with hard-earned muscle mass.
Tips on measuring your body fat levels:
- Take all measurements on the right side of your body.
- Carefully identify and recall your measuring site for accuracy.
- Take the measurement when your skin is dry and lotion-free.
- Do not measure immediately after exercise due to shifts in body fluid.
There are 3 main sites for measuring your body fat for males:
- Chest – Fold is taken 1/2 the distance between the anterior auxiliary line and nipple.
- Abdominal – Fold is taken vertical 2 cm lateral to the umbilicus.
- Thigh – Fold is lifted on anterior aspect of thigh midway between inguinal crease and proximal border of patella. Body weight is shifted to left foot.
There are 3 main sites for measuring your body fat for females:
- Triceps – Fold is taken midway between the shoulder and elbow joint, on the center of the back of the arm.
- Waist – Fold is taken diagonally above the iliac crest along the anterior auxiliary line.
- Thigh – Fold is lifted on anterior aspect of thigh midway between inguinal crease and proximal border of patella. Body weight is shifted to the left foot.
Tip #10 – Optimize Your Diet for Maximum Growth
It’s crucial to make sure you’re eating nutrient dense whole foods during the day to help your body recover from grueling workouts. Along with eating clean meals every 2.5 to 3 hours, you really need to focus on optimizing your pre-workout and post-workout nutrition. A very simple and nutrient packed option is to make a protein shake before and after training. Just blend up a little whey protein with some fresh fruit, quality greens (kale, spinach, chard) and throw in some old-fashioned oatmeal for a nutrient packed high protein smoothie! Your diet accounts for about 70% of the results you will see in your physique. So, whether you are training to build maximum muscle mass or you are trying to lose excess body fat, your diet is the key to your success!