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Fresh, Fit and Healthy Fitness  

Maximize Your Training Load

Define Your Fitness Goals

By Tom Bonanti


 FitnessIf you feel overwhelmed by the abundance of fitness information and advice out there, youíre not alone! This week Mark Magazine offers five tips on how to take the stress out of your workouts and optimize your efficiency in the gym.

  Make exercise a part of your daily routine. Set a consistent schedule and stick to it. If lifting is your focus, plan on doing it three to five days per week for no more than an hour. Set out your workout clothes, shoes and water bottle. Pack a bag and keep it close by or in your car. If you can, try to workout the same time each day. Keeping to a schedule makes working out a priority and a regular part of your fitness lifestyle.

  Settle on realistic goals. Most guys want to lose flab, get six pack abs, bigger arms and chest and have more energy and stamina all at once. All of these are noble aspirations, but are tough to achieve all at once. Try having one precise goal for a couple of months. Then as you achieve this, systematically and successfully, switch to another goal for the next few months. For example, you may need to lose five pounds and reduce your body fat first. So focus on your nutrition, lift manageable weights and up your cardio. Then as you tighten and tone and improve your nutritional habits, youíll be eager and stronger when you attack the heavier weights to put on muscle mass.

 Donít be saddled with the same old workout all the time. As you change, define and focus your goals, so too, you need to change up your workouts. Thatís why many people prefer free weights to machines. Whereas only one or two exercises are possible with any machine, barbells, dumbbells and cables provide a banquet of ways to work and build a muscle group. Just remember that in a tough workout, exercise big muscle groups, such as back, chest and legs before smaller muscle groups, such as shoulders, triceps and biceps.

 Develop a simple before and after stretching routine and stick with it each workout. Just find an uncluttered area and lie on the floor and stretch each muscle group. If you take an extra stretch class now and then, fine, but simple uncomplicated stretches done consistently are just as effective. As you increase muscle mass you especially need to develop, increase and maximize flexibility.

 The best way to benefit from cardio-vascular training is to do it on days you donít lift. If that is not possible and you are in descent shape, cap off your weight training workouts with 20 minutes of cardio. Doing cardio after weights allows your muscles to get the heavy work of lifting out of the way first.

 Fresh Fit and Healthy Going to the gym, working out, running, interval training or however you stay in shape should be fun and stress free. If you look forward to these activities youíll be less likely to burn out and much more likely to feel charged up!