There’s not much worse than getting motivated to start a great new workout routine…and then getting hurt. One way to help prevent injury is to be constantly thinking about your form and technique. Here are some things to be concentrating on while you work…think of it as a welcome distraction from just how much you are sweating 🙂
1. BREATHE! Seems like common sense, but many of us (imagine me raising my hand here) tend to hold our breath as the exercise becomes challenging. Not only does this increase your blood pressure, but it prevents your muscles from getting the oxygen they need-making you have to quit sooner. No bueno!
2. Work all of your muscle groups to help prevent imbalances. Every muscle group has a counterpart that preforms the opposite motion. We’ll use the legs as examples-the quadriceps (the front part of your thighs) work to flex your hip and extend your knee. Your hamstrings, on the other hand, extend your hip and flex your knee. If one of these muscle groups gets stronger than the other, it can throw your joints out of alignment-they don’t like it there. They tend to yell at you. Make sure you work everything-not just what you think your “problem areas” are. Which brings me to my next point…
3. You cannot target fat loss. And it doesn’t matter how many different ways you phrase the question either. There is no way to target belly fat. Or arm fat. Or the little bit of extra you’re carrying around on your thighs. You can work to tone those areas…but if they are still covered with a layer of adipose tissue (the nice way to say fat), no one will ever know that beautifully toned physique it’s there! The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you take in, and for better or worse, our body gets to decide where it wants to lose first. But don’t get discouraged-you will see the changes if you stick with it! And then everyone will be able to see the six pack you’ve been keeping hidden 😉
4. Try to make some of your strength exercises unilateral-meaning you’re only working one side at a time. Most of us have one side that is stronger than the other, and it will work harder than the weaker side as it starts to fatigue. By working one side at a time, you balance out those muscles and make everyone do their fair share!
5. Your movements should be controlled at all times. Momentum and gravity are the enemy-if they are doing the work, it means you are not!
6. Keep your core strong. The easiest way to maintain your posture and core strength is to very slightly pull your belly button towards your spine. Give it a try now, and then try to arch your back or slouch-tough to do!
7. When doing strength training, do not work the same muscle group two days in a row. Your muscles need time to recover. This does not mean you can’t do legs one day, and upper body the next. Just don’t work your shoulders, for instance, two days in a row.
Most importantly, HAVE FUN! Find a buddy to work out with, or a fun video. One of my tricks is I only let myself listen to my favorite iPod playlist when I’m working out-it gives me something to look forward to. Find the trick that works for you, and use it!