You have finally taken the leap and joined the gym or maybe you have adopted a new exercise routine that you know will help you get you back into shape.
You should congratulate yourself. You have now accomplished the hardest part, beginning.
At this point, you will want to make sure you get the most “bang for your buck” out of the time you are going to invest, so, it’s vitally important that you are aware of certain habits that will need building and nurturing in order to ensure your workouts deliver the best possible results.
Whether your choice is a gym workout or something you do closer to home, developing the right habits from the get-go is the key to enjoying the results you are looking for.
Important Exercise habits:
Always Prioritize Form –
Good form is mandatory for each exercise you perform. So, making sure you are focused on and prioritizing your form when working out is the number one habit you’ll need to build. After all, an exercise will only be effective if it hits the muscles that it was designed to help.
This also means leaving your ego out of the picture. You don’t want to add more weight or extend your workout session just to feed your ego. Feeding your ego could end up starving your health!
Warm-up is Necessary –
Often when someone is pressed for time, they will automatically leave out the warm-up and jump right into the exercise. Not a good idea. You need to make sure your blood is flowing and your warm up is what gets the job done.
Skipping your warmup invites injury. When the body is cold and attempting to lift a heavy weight or perform a challenging exercise, the result can be a strained tendon or ligament. Get injured and you are on the sidelines for a while, so think twice about skipping the all-important warm-up.
Focus on Good Breathing Habits –
Many people, without even realizing it, hold their breath as they work through their set. However, holding your breath is dangerous and will leave you light-headed and ready to pass out. It also diminishes the amount of strength you can generate.
Building strong breathing habits from the beginning of your exercise journey is mandatory to avoid developing the habit of holding your breath while working out.
Simply focus on breathing out during the contract portion of your exercise (the part of the exercise where the muscle is shortening – concentric for “contraction”). Then breathe in during the eccentric portion of the exercise which is typically when you move back into the starting position.
Your breathing while exercising will become habit (even if you are not paying attention) so make sure you avoid building the bad habit of holding your breath.
Be Aware of Your Mind – Muscle Connection –
Although thinking about the mind-muscle connection of exercising is often overlooked, it is one of the most important aspects if you really want to squeeze the most out of your routines. Unfortunately, many people allow their minds to wander while they are working out. They think about what they might be doing that night, what groceries they need for that recipe they want to try, what movie they want to see, the list is endless. But, focusing on things outside of what you are doing in the “moment” robs you of your best effort. You wouldn’t write a business proposal without your complete attention to detail, would you? Take that same position when exercising.
Your energy (your focus) needs to be on what you want to accomplish in the “moment,” not what your life is about in the future or the past. Without this focus, your workouts suffer because the intensity won’t be there.
You can work at developing this habit by touching the muscle you are working with a free hand (if possible). Feeling the contraction helps bring you back to your mind-muscle connection. Also, using a weight that is too heavy can cause you to lose this connection, so if you struggle developing this habit, look to and lower the weight you are lifting.
Ask for Help When Needed –
This seems like a no-brainer, right? Wrong. Too many people allow their shyness to get in the way or possibly they are intimidated by trainers. This kind of attitude can seriously set back any exercise and even render it useless if it is not performed correctly.
When you need help for any reason – learning to do an exercise properly, building a new workout program and even moving up to the next weight level, seeking the help of a trainer is the fast track to success. Tapping into their knowledge makes things progress more efficiently and faster. You will reach your goals quicker and enjoy the results you are after.
Pay Attention to Time –
Don’t allow yourself to get distracted between sets by talking or letting your mind drift onto other things. If your set requires that you rest for 30 seconds in between, make sure you are sticking to those 30 seconds. You can even set a timer to go off, so you know when it is time to start your next set again. Extending your rest time longer than required impacts the entire intensity of your session and makes the workout that much less effective. Why ruin all the hard work you just put in by resting too long?
Track Your Workout Sessions –
In order to progress, you will need to monitor your progress so you’re sure that the workout you are currently doing is better than the last. You can keep a journal and write everything down or simply track it using one of many phone apps now available.
Tracking sessions not only allows you to be sure you are progressing, but it’s a great motivational tool as well. It’s a lot easier to get excited about working out when you see how far you’ve come!
Change the Game –
Like everything else we do, exercise can get boring if it’s not changed up regularly. The body responds best to variety, so the more variety, the faster your progress is likely to be.
You can easily change one thing each week. You could add a new exercise, a new repetition range, a new number of sets or even a different order to perform them. This not only keeps the body stimulated but the mind as well.
Be patient with yourself but consistent in your actions as you adopt and master these healthy exercise habits. You will quickly find yourself on the fast track to boosting your metabolism and immune systems to work at peak performance and loving the body you see in the mirror every day!
Train yourself for success – be your own coach and get yourself going.
For more tools and resources from Carolyn Hansen to assist you in attaining your goals and achieving the success you desire in life please visit:
Carolyn Hansen Fitness