The ABC’s or basic rules of exercises ensure that you get the most out of every sweat session, whether you’re at home in your living room or at the gym with a friend. Keep these basic guidelines in mind as you build more exercises into your routine.
Any trainer will tell you, proper form is critical to making the most of each exercise. Without it, you can hurt yourself and miss out on the benefits of each move. There are a few common exercises where form is compromised; do these moves in front of a mirror so you can correct if necessary.
Squat: To do a proper squat, imagine that you’re sitting back into a chair, with your butt out and back straight. Once in the squat position, wiggle your toes. There should be no pressure on your toes, so you should be able to move them with ease. If there is pressure, rock back onto your heels.
Lunge: The biggest mistake with lunges can wreak havoc on your knees: letting your knee extend past your toes. When performing lunges, extend your leg far ahead; you should be able to see the tips of your toes in the mid-lunge position.
Pushup or plank: In these moves, you want to keep your midsection from sagging. To make the most of the exercise, keep everything straight from your butt to your head. Two ways to do this: 1. Look ahead of you, not down, which will help keep everything else straight, 2. Pull your abs in tight which should take pressure off your lower back and onto your abs where it should be.
There’s truth to the phrase, variety is the spice of life. When it comes to exercising, there are two important reasons to incorporate variety into your routine:
- Beat boredom: It’s easy to get sick of the same old routine, which leads to missed workouts. Try a new class, a new exercise or a new machine once a week to keep it interesting.
- Better muscle growth: Your body will get used to anything if you do it enough times. In order to see the most progress, incorporate different exercises as much as possible.
If you progress too quick, moving to a new weight set for example, you risk hurting yourself. Increase 10% with each passing week, or every other week, to build muscle properly and safely.
Each part of your body works with another part to move efficiently, which makes it critical that your entire body is strong, not just a few muscles. While adding variety into your workout will help to combat this problem, focus on a different muscle group with each workout. For example, make Monday leg day, Tuesday arm day, take Wednesday off and then make Thursday shoulders and abs day and Friday tough cardio day, such as an HIIT workout on the treadmill. This helps to force balance in a routine that could easily become stale, focused on the same few muscles each time.