These tips are designed to help you get the most out of your exercise. Keep it simple, precise and challenging.
Practical Exercise Tip #1
Exercise can be incredibly complicated. I’ve spent 6 years, full time, studying exercise. But exercise is also incredibly simple. For 99% of the population, walking is a brilliant, safe and effective means of exercising.
So if you’re feeling a little confused about what you should or shouldn’t be doing when it comes to exercise, simplify it and just head out for a walk. Also, include more incidental activity through out your day; take the stairs instead of the lift, vacuum and clean the house more often, play with your kids or the dog or your fish (?). There are lots of simple ways to be active without necessarily planning exercise.
Practical Exercise Tip # 2
It’s so important for not only preventing injuries, but for also getting the most benefit out of your workout.
Ask yourself these things when doing exercises (particularly resistance training).
– maintaining good posture
– using the muscles I’m supposed to be using
– not using muscles I shouldn’t be using
– achieving good range of motion
– moving at an appropriate speed
– working at an intensity that suits my fitness level and goals
– having fun!
Practical Exercise Tip #3
Don’t be afraid to take the easier option.
This is really important for working within your body’s own limits and maintaining good technique. I often see people in the gym or in my group fitness classes performing exercises at a level which is too hard for them. Whilst I applaud them for being keen to work hard, it really compromises their safety and the effectiveness of the exercise. Train your muscles, not your ego!
Push ups and hovers/planks are the perfect example of this. Attempting to do the exercise on your toes when you’re not yet strong enough will means possible injury to your back whilst your chest and abdominals miss out on the work.
Regress the exercise, take the easier option, once you can manage that with good technique, take your time to build up to the harder option.
Practical Exercise Tip #4
Don’t be afraid to take the harder option.
This might seem contradictory to tip #3, but both tips apply – it’s about figuring out which one applies to each individual and each exercise.
If your goal is to improve (aerobic endurance, strength, flexibility etc) at some point you will need to move up to another level and push yourself a bit harder. If you can do an exercise correctly, then try giving the next level a go.
A basic guide to progression
– Increase by no more than 5-10% per week in either duration (eg run for 20mins one week and 22mins the next) or intensity (lift 10kg one week and 11kg the next)
– Change the exercise and how it works your body, eg push ups on toes instead of knees, running with hills instead of flat road
– You can progress gradually. For example: you might be able to complete 15 assisted chin ups with good technique, so now you’re ready to move on to unassisted chin ups, but you can only complete 3 with good technique. I suggest completing 3 unassisted and then finishing the set with 12 assisted chin ups. Or if you want to progress from walking to running, add in small running intervals mixed in with walking periods. As you get fitter and stronger, you’ll be able to do more unassisted chin ups and run for longer.
Don’t forget to give yourself adequate recovery time, you’ll need it as you progress.