Before beginning a workout program or taking your current one to the next level, there are some basic guidelines to keep in mind to ensure safety and the best possible results. Here are a few tips to be aware of:
Form Comes First
Maintaining proper form is essential in avoiding injury and making the most of an exercise. There are specific steps to follow for each exercise. For those of you just starting out, it would be advisable to enlist the help of a personal trainer who can demonstrate as well as observe your alignment and movement. The amount of things a good trainer can point out and correct can be surprising.
Never Lock Out Your Joints
This means knees, elbows, etc. Always keep a slight bend. For squats and lunges, keep soft knees; for tricep extensions, flex the muscles without stressing the elbows. Make the movements fluid, and avoid snapping or jerking your arms or legs as this will put pressure on the joints rather than challenge the muscles.
For leg exercises such as squats and lunges, a general rule of thumb is to make sure the toes do not pass the knees. To adjust, you may need to take a wider stance or sit back farther.
For most exercises, it is best to exhale on the exertion. So for a pushup, as an example, inhale as you bring yourself down, and exhale as you push up.
Don't Be Stingy
Work the whole body, unless you have an injury or other medical concern. You don't have to do a total body program all in one day; in fact, it is common to split up workouts by body part or muscle group over the course of a week. Examples could be three full-body workouts a week, three upper-body and two lower-body workouts per week, or one to two muscle groups per day. The key to building strength and definition is to make sure not to skip anything within the week's timeframe.
Also, remember that everything is connected. You can't make the most of bicep curls without being able to contract the chest muscles, and you will need to flex the lower body muscles in order to stabilize yourself for upper-body exercises such as tricep kickbacks.
This will make all the difference. Give it your best, play your biggest. The energy you're using comes back. Don't save any for later. Use it now and make your workout worthwhile!
This story was first published on Karina's Fit Zone.