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7 Must Follow Principals If You Want To See Maximum Results From Your Workouts

One of the most frustrating things for people about exercise is repeating a routine for weeks or months on end without seeing results. There’s a ton of misconceptions about working out and it’s certainly one of the reasons people ultimately give up on their routines.

Here’s a typical scenario I see all the time in health clubs. People strolling through the gym doing the same three sets of ten reps on the machines they’re familiar with, maybe watch a little TV while on the elliptical, then heading for the showers. And they wonder why they’re not seeing results.

The reality is nobody has probably educated them on what they need to do to see a return on their investment in time and effort. Either that or they simply would rather not put forth the effort required. If you’d consider yourself to be in the first group read on as I’ll give you some tips to help you be successful.

Principle #1: The exercises in your program must resemble human movement patterns for maximum results from your workouts.

Here’s your first tip, sitting is not a human movement. You probably do enough of that during the day at work so it’s the last you want to be doing while exercising. Avoid machines where you sit down to the exercise as a general rule. There are a few exceptions but the majority of your workout should be completed while on your feet.

Functional exercise is simply doing movements that resemble a human movement pattern you’d do in every day life. How many times will you have to push something over your head while sitting down? Not many cases I can think of.

Doing an exercise like an overhead dumbbell or barbell press while on your feet integrates the core muscles and allows you to work your body as one complete chain. This is much different than sitting on your butt pushing some handles over head.

When you’re sitting down your core muscles are relaxed and not being engaged one bit. Test it for yourself and you’ll see. Common sense but few people think about it.

There’s also a common myth that younger people and older people should exercise differently. Human movement patterns stay the same regardless of age, only the intensity of the movements change. In fact, it’s increasingly important for older adults to do functional exercise in order to maintain flexibility and mobility.

Bottom line is you sit down to work, take a break, have a cup of coffee or whatever. You don’t sit down to exercise! Physical fitness at the core is about moving the human body, don’t lose sight of that.

Here are just a few machines in particular you should avoid in the health club that are done while sitting down.

- hip abduction machine
- hip adduction machine
- seated torso rotation machine
- seated ab crunch machine
- lying hamstring curl machine

To see more check out my article on the machines to avoid in a health club. Machines that isolate muscle groups commonly only make muscle imbalances worse. I’ve seen countless examples of sciatica, low back problems, knee problems, etc, made worse from people unknowingly using machines that isolate muscle groups.

Principle #2: You must master bodyweight movements before adding external resistance from weights.

This once again should be common sense but it often gets overlooked, even with many personal trainers. Before you ever put weight on your back and load your spinal column with a weighted squat, you should be able to do a bodyweight squat with proper technique.

Always start with the basics first and repeat bodyweight movement patterns until you can do them with ease. The same thing goes with lunges, step-up’s, rows, pulls, presses, etc. Start with bodyweight rows, push-up’s, bodyweight reaches, lunges, squats, etc. If you need some assistance in the beginning consult with a fitness professional that can help you.

The last thing you want to do is just start picking up weights without first laying a foundation of core strength and stability. Failing to do so will only lead to diminished returns and increased risk of injury.

Principle #3: Compound movements must take precedent over single joint movements.

When working out doing resistance training you always want to focus on the major muscle groups. Ideally, you want to spend most of your time doing exercises that work multiple muscle groups with integration instead of isolating a single muscle group.

An example of a compound movement (simply meaning a movement that works more than one joint) would be something like a bent over barbell row. This exercise works the back, arms, and shoulders all in one movement. Compare it to a seated biceps curl machine that only works the arms in isolation.

Bodybuilders frequently do a lot of isolation exercises but that’s because they’re bodybuilding! If you’re not interested in spending hours in the gym you can get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time by focusing on compound movements.

The basics movements like squats, bent over rows, bench press, overhead press, push-up’s, pull-up’s, inverted rows, and the like simply work best. Always have and always will. If you want to sprinkle in some isolated movements that’s fine but avoid going from machine to machine where you focus on just one muscle group.

Principle #4: Your workouts must be started with a dynamic warm-up and not static stretching.

This is another mistake that I see a lot of people making in the health clubs. Most people don’t warm up at all before working out and that is only diminishing results. Those who do will typically perform some sort of static stretch like we learned in gym class. Research has clearly shown this to be of no benefit prior to doing resistance training. In fact, it can decrease strength and power output with your exercises.

The proper way to warm up is to perform some sort of a dynamic stretching where you’re moving your body. Think reaches, rotations, push-up’s, bodyweight squats, lunges, and the like. The important part here is you need to fire up the central nervous system and prepare the body for higher intensities. Ideally you’d want to break a light sweat, get your muscles warm, and elevate your heart rate.

Principle #5: Your resistance training workouts must include progression.

This is where you simply cannot do the same old 3 sets of 10 and expect to see results. The human body will adapt to any given workload over time and you’ll stop making progress unless you change things up.

There’s been tons of information written on periodization with workout routines. I’ve found most of it isn’t applicable to the average individual who just wants to increase lean muscle and get in shape. It’s more for advanced athletes and bodybuilders. Even with the more advanced groups I’ve found there are much simpler ways to still achieve the same results.

Bottom line is you must frequently change up the stimulus that you’re giving your muscles. Instead of following some detailed and complicated plan of sets and reps for different phases, simply look to regularly change things up. Here are some basic ways to change the stimulus and add progression to your workout routines.

- Increase the intensity by adding more workload (weight)
- Increase the intensity by decreasing the rest period
- Increase the intensity by decreasing stability
- Increase the intensity by adding more movement
- Increase the intensity by combining movements

This could be an article all by itself and probably will be. For now, just know that you must change things up if you want to see a change in your muscle strength and development.

Principle #6: You must remove all mental distractions for optimal results.

This is a real pet peeve of mine. I see it all the time in the health clubs and it’s no wonder people aren’t seeing results. We’ve become a multi-tasking, distracted, society where we rarely focus on just one thing. When you go into to workout your focus should be just on working out! Watching TV, socializing, thinking about work, problems at home, etc, are all counterproductive.

Focus just on what you’re doing and clear your mind. If you want to wear an ipod so you can get your mind right by all means go for it. I do it all the time especially when they’re playing some soft-rock station. Anything that can help you focus and put forth all out intensity and effort is a good thing. Anything that doesn’t should be avoided. It’s that simple.

Principle #7: You must have proper nutrition and recovery or all the hard work is meaningless.

Once again, common sense but this is a piece of the puzzle that often gets overlooked or neglected. Remember, when you’re working out hard in the gym your objective is to break the muscle down.

Resistance training is designed to break down the muscle fibers so they can be later repaired and built back up. This is how the process works. If you don’t have proper nutrition or recovery to complete the repair process, you won’t see results plain and simple.

If you’ve committed time during the week to train hard with your workouts, give your body the nutrition and recovery it needs to make it all pay off. What’s the point in only going half way? You’ve got to bust your butt and work hard to see results. The pay off can be very rewarding but it won’t happen just because you show up in the gym.

Go hard with your workouts, follow a Primal Blueprint diet, and get adequate rest and recovery. That’s the recipe in a nutshell right there. After that it’s only rinse and repeat. Don’t over-complicate things. If you’re not seeing results it’s because something is lacking or missing.

Download my audio recording of “How To See Maximum Results From Your Workouts.”

If you would like to hear more on this subject I’ve recorded an audio tract going into more detail and providing some additional tips.

Simply “right click” on the link below and select to “Save as” to your computer as an MP3 file.

How To See Maximum Results From Your Workouts – MP3 Audio Recording

I hope you found this article to be informative and it’s helped to provide you with some insight on how to get results from your workouts. If you have any questions or comments as always feel free to leave them here. Until next time, live with passion, train with purpose, and eat primal!

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios. You can receive a free, no-obligations consultation and trial of his Charleston personal training programs and experience the Shaping Concepts difference for yourself.

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Category: Fitness Training.