Take your capabilities into account and modify if necessary:
- Duration (time)
- Duration of rest/recovery phase
- Number of repetitions
- The exercise itself
Listen to your body.
It’s important to listen to your body’s warning signs and respect your limits. The harder you push yourself the more drastic the results. That being said, while you’re encouraged to work hard by stepping outside of your comfort zone, DO NOT push yourself past your capabilities. There’s nothing wrong with modifying an exercise when necessary. Listen to your body and don’t cross a line that may cause potential injury or harm. When it comes to fitness, always err on the side of caution.
Check your intensity.
Throughout each workout ask yourself, “How do I feel?”
- If you feel that you’re working at a level that is too difficult and cannot be sustained, reduce the intensity.
- If you feel that you’re not working hard enough, increase the intensity.
Want to push yourself extra hard?
For added intensity you can incorporate free weights, resistance bands, ankle weights or other equipment into your fitness routines. Just remember, you are responsible to push yourself no further than the limits you are capable of completing without harming yourself.
Quality over quantity, maintain good posture and form.
When it comes to exercise, quality always trumps quantity. Rather than focusing on how many reps you can push through, your focus should always remain on proper posture and form. If you notice you are compromising form for speed or quantity, you are doing yourself a massive disservice. Sacrificing form does not promote optimal muscle use and can end up resulting in injury.
Your core should be tight at all times during an exercise and your back should remain straight with little to no arch. Don’t slump!
How should you begin? It is always important to start your workout by warming up for at least 2 minutes. Just like you shouldn’t start your car in the cold and speed off without allowing time for the engine to warm up, you don’t want to jump into a workout without warming up. Warming up improves your athletic performance and reduces the risk of injury. A proper warmup will increase your muscle control, flexibility and range of motion.
Why cool down? Just as it’s imperative to start your workout with a warmup, it’s equally as important to cool down after. Cooling down doesn’t have to be complicated; it can be as simple as walking in place for 2 minutes. Cooling down gradually brings your body temperature, breathing and heart rate back to its normal resting level. This helps continue to circulate your blood so it doesn’t pool. Not cooling down is like going from a 100 MPH to zero with no breaks—not a good idea!
What does stretching do? Stretching improves your flexibility, relieves tension and helps prevent injury. How should you stretch? A stretch should be a smooth movement, held for 15 to 30 seconds. When you stretch, you should feel mild discomfort but not pain.
I start my day by stretching for a minute or two as well as after each workout. Sometimes I even stretch a few minutes before bed!
Water and working out go hand in hand. Not only does water help regulate your internal thermostat, it shuttles nutrients and oxygen through your entire body. It lubricates your joints so you can move easily, keeps your muscles hydrated to prevent cramping and helps you sweat, which cools you down! Think of water as human WD-40. Try to take a drink of water at least every 15 minutes during your workout.
Be one with your breath!
When exercising, it's imperative to get in touch with your body and be aware of your breathing. Deep, controlled breathing throughout a workout is vital. It feeds your muscles with more oxygen as well as helps protect your back and engage your core.
How do you breathe properly while working out?
Let's practice! Start by taking a deep breath through your mouth or nose, causing your belly to rise, like filling a balloon. Remember you want your belly to rise, not suck in toward your spine. Exhale slowly out your mouth, causing that “balloon” in your belly to deflate.
When do I inhale versus exhale?
Inhale during the resting aspect of the exercise and exhale during the working aspect. An example of this would be to exhale when coming up into a sit up and inhale upon release, bringing you back slowly against the ground.
Do the “breathe and squeeze!”
Two things to remember at ALL times when working out: BREATHE and SQUEEZE. Be aware of your breathing pattern and contract the muscle group you’re working while also contracting your core. Keeping your core contracted during an exercise not only promotes optimal muscle use but also helps to protect your back. When exercising, tell yourself “breathe and squeeze, breathe and squeeze!”
Get motivated through music.
Do you get bored and have trouble staying focused while working out? Don't worry, it's not just you! When you occupy your mind while working out, you distract yourself from the effort and energy you’re exerting. You can do this through focusing on your breathing patterns, watching yourself in the mirror, concentrating on form, being aware of your body sensations or my favorite, listening to music.
When I work out, music is a must! Without it, my level of motivation drops dramatically and I just can't get into the groove. I always put on music that pumps me up. Before I know it, I don't want to stop moving; I persist longer and at higher intensities!
BPMs set your tempo and your intensity.
When selecting your music, consider the tempo and beats per minute (BPMs). The more BPMs, the faster the tempo.
For your warmup and cooldown you may want to choose music with a slower tempo of less than 100 to 122 BPMs. When you’re working out at a moderate to high impact level, consider using music with higher BPMs, such as 122 to 160 BPMs.
You can do this by searching for music with a certain range of BPMs via the internet (example: Today’s Hits Higher BPM).
Do you need equipment for FULLfitness workouts?
Some workouts will incorporate free weights but many simply use your own body weight as resistance. You will need a stop watch or timer for certain workouts. Other than that, all you need is yourself and some good old H2O!
Push through crunch times and remember that something is always better than nothing!
We all have busy days. Recognize your time constraints and the benefits of properly managing your time. If you don’t maintain regular exercise, you will lose all the improvements you worked so hard to achieve. Your results will vary depending on your level of commitment; discipline, dedication and self-control play a major role in this.
Set realistic goals.
Your body type, shape, size, strengths and abilities play a major role in your results. When you set mini goals you make progress more attainable. If I think about light at the end of the tunnel, I was to see it; I don't want to have to run a marathon to get a glimpse. Set realistic, achievable goals with this in mind. It is always better to surprise yourself and surpass your goals than struggle to achieve unrealistic ones! Try to lose 5 pounds, not 30. Start by exercising 10 minutes, not an hour. When you reach your mini goal, give yourself a huge high five and create a new one!