That got your attention, didn’t it? But, though there’s really no wrong exercises (well, except this one:)
there are definitely right exercises. The right exercises, with the right loads and the right frequency, will get you to your goals.
Here’s a few things you should consider when choosing the right exercises and the right training plan:
1. Specificity: If you want to get better at something, you have to do that thing, a lot. If want to be able to do pull-ups, you better be doing some type of upper body pulling exercises on a frequent basis.
2. Overload. If you want to improve your fitness and get stronger or get more defined muscles, you need select weights that you find challenging to lift. We overload our muscles and cardiovascular system by asking our bodies to lift more than we usually do, or move faster or farther than we usually go. Do this frequently enough, and you’ll see some changes in your fitness and appearance.
3. Progression. This simply means that you don’t do too much too soon. Learn the proper technique first, then add some weight to the move. While your muscles may be able to move the weight, remember that your ligaments and tendons need time to get used to heavier loads. However, don’t stay in the easy zone too long – if you want gains, you’ll need to work hard!
4. Big Lifts = Big Gains. The “Big Lifts” are what I term the lower and upper body exercises that are multi-joint, meaning they use more than one muscle group at the same time. The squat variations (back, front, overhead, split), deadlifts, presses (bench and overhead), and rows use multiple muscle groups, not just individual muscles.
You can lift heavier weights, burn more calories, and gain a more toned appearance by focusing on these exercises. After you hit these, then add your single joint exercises, such as biceps curls, lateral raises, leg curls, etc.
5. Vary your sets, repetitions, and load. Once you can do the exercises with good form, it’s time to get creative and overload the body. Overload can be accomplished by adding more sets, lowering the reps and lifting heavier weights, or making the rest between your sets shorter when lifting lighter loads.
6. If you don’t have a plan, plan to fail. It’s true! If you walk into the gym without a plan of which exercises you are going to do for how many reps and sets and how much weight, chances are you’ll not do much of anything. If you are having trouble coming up with a plan, you can:
- use an app or search YouTube: free apps like Workout Trainer have different workouts for different goals to help get you started, and YouTube probably has hundreds of different exercise routines for you to follow.
- buy a book (or get one out of the library): once again, there’s plenty of books out there depending on your goals. My personal favorite is The New Rules of Lifting for Women. It’s common sense stuff and has easy-to-follow exercise programs which focus on using many of the Big Lifts to achieve results. There are descriptions and pictures that accompany each exercise, and their website and Facebook page has additional resources. (Buy on Amazon – a steal at $14). I’m sure there are similar books out there.
- hire a trainer. Hire me, hire someone else, just hire someone who knows what they’re doing so they can help YOU know what you’re doing. Even one or two sessions can get you on the right track and make sure you have good form so you can do it on your own.