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7 Steps To Maximizing Your Work Out Program

Updated on May 19, 2010

Assuming you have already developed a strength-training program, you know your goals, and have experience and knowledge of how each exercise is executed and how it impacts the corresponding muscle group, lets look at how best to make that gym session more efficient.

By following these 7 points you'll have less risk of injury. If your body is a machine then this is the preventative maintenance program you need to implement to make sure that machine works to peak performance.

  • Warm Up: Perform a five or 10-minute aerobic warm-up. Most commercial gyms feature stationary bicycles, treadmills, and rowing and cross-country skiing machines; these are excellent for warming up. You can also skip with a rope or jog on the spot. Warming up will improve blood flow, nerve conduction and flexibility. It will help prevent muscle soreness and reduce the chance of injury as well.
  • Breathe Naturally: Holding your breath can lead to a rise in blood pressure, dizziness and fainting, which can be dangerous while lifting heavy weights. Instead, breathe normally through your mouth and nose in rhythm with your exercise. Complete a breath cycle with each rep: exhale while you lift a weight and inhale while you lower it. During some exercises that require a stable chest - such as a bench press - you may be tempted to take a deep breath and hold it. Instead, continue to exhale as you lift and contract vyour abdominal muscles to stabilize your chest.
  • Avoid Muscular Tension: Relax those muscles not involved with the lift. Focus on the muscles you are exercising and involve only them. Do not tense your face or clench your fists. Creating tension in body parts other than the one that you are exercising will take away energy you need for the exercise and needlessly increase your blood pressure.
  • Work Large Muscles First: If you have not divided your workout into separate upper and lower body routines, begin with the thighs and lower legs, then move on to the chest and back, shoulders, upper arms and forearms, and conclude with the abdominals and lower back. If you tire your small muscles early in the workout by exercising them first, they will not be able to assist as stabilizing muscles when you work your larger muscles. Develop a routine for a basic free-weight workout that covers all of the major muscle groups. You can use this routine in a home gym or a commercial facility. If you are working out on machines have a professional fitness trainer demonstrate the routine.
  • Maintain Muscle Balance: When exercising one muscle group, be sure to exercise the opposing muscle group. This will ensure good muscle balance and may protect against injury. For instance, if you work the biceps, on the top portion of your upper arm, include an exercise for the triceps, on the underside of your upper arm. Similarly, you should work towards bilateral strength - that is, equal conditioning for both sides of your body. When exercising one limb, be sure to repeat the exercise for the other one.
  • Increase The Effort: Once you are familiar with a basic routine, you can concentrate on certain parts of your body for more intense free-weight exercises. Add some variation with different exercises that work the same muscle but from a different angle. This will avoid repetitive strain on the joints. Advanced exercises might require a partner or specialized equipment available in commercial gyms.
  • Keep A Journal: Keep track of your progress. For each workout, record in a journal the weights that you use, the exercise you employ and the number of sets and reps. This will help you to determine how quickly you are progressing and what muscle groups may need more work. Once you have achieved your goals, increasing your work load will not be necessary, but you will have to continue exercising two to three times per week to maintain your fitness.

Follow these 7 simple steps and you'll fast track your recovery, minimize your risk of injury and improve the performance of each work out. Investing a bit of time in doing it right results in maximum benefits for your body.

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