Tips for Better Workouts

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By Lisa Leath Turpin, Health & Fitness Coach/Consultant

Structure your workouts to fit your goals: A gymnast doesn’t train like a football player, and a tennis player doesn’t train like a basketball player. Why? Because in order to perform better at each sport, it takes specific movements and strengths, in specific areas, to make one stronger for each sport. How does this equate to you? You are unique. From your bone structure, genetics, chemical make-up (hormones/immunity) and body type. It’s great to get ideas from others, but make sure it will benefit you personally. When I train my small groups of two to six people, even if they do somewhat the same order of exercises, not all lift the same weight or perform the same reps. Some people want a more muscular build; some want long lean smoother muscles; some need to focus on fat burning. Figure out your goals at the beginning of your quest and it will give you direction and keep you more motivated.

Mix it up: In order to customize your workout journey, tailor it to fit your goals and make it enjoyable. Your body needs to be challenged to change. Do something called “Phase Training.” Briefly, a phase training plan manipulates exercise volumes and intensities over the course of weeks, months and years. Change your range of repetitions, how many sets, as well as the exercises themselves. It’s suggested, though, that in order for a muscle to get stronger or more toned, it needs time to adapt and change. Therefore, we need to have some time repeating a movement for this muscle adaptation to occur. A good example is the push-up. When you first begin doing pushups, you might be lucky to do five good ones. But if you do push-ups more often, you will increase the number of push-ups you can do. This is most important when looking for strength gains, but also for coordination. So, a simplified example of Phase Training for overall fitness would be:

Weeks 1-4: Endurance Phase/high repetitions 13-20/2-3 sets 3-4 days/week focusing on mobility, stability and form

Weeks 5-8: Strength Phase/moderate repetitions 8-12/2-6 sets 3-4 days/week focusing on lean muscle mass and gaining strong muscles (not bulky). Strong is GOOD!
Cycle through these phases all year.

Other additions to keep it interesting are Circuit Training, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or other types of interval training. Again, depends on your goals.

Slow down: For strength and safety purposes, perform your repetitions SLOWLY. The slower you go, the more muscle fibers you recruit, thus maximizing strength gains and less joint or ligament damage. There are times that you want to move faster like in Circuits or Interval Training. But the key to “faster” is stay in control and in good form. It’s best to sometimes work as fast as you can, but WHILE PERFORMING FULL RANGE OF MOTION (ROM) WITH FULL CONTROL. If you can’t perform full ROM with full control, then you are too fast or too heavy. That makes speed relative to controlled performance. When lifting weights there is a positive and negative motion. When performing a bicep curl, you start with your arm relatively straight; but when you raise or curl the weight, flexing the elbow, it is the positive part of the lift. The lowering of the weight or extension of the elbow, is the negative. You always want to control and go slowly on the negative: this is where “resistance” training gets its name. It’s the control of resisting the weight that challenges the muscle and makes the greatest difference.

Be Active – choose what you like! Any and all movement is good. Don’t overthink it. Dance if it makes you happy! Guess what? You will be working out!

Lisa Leath Turpin is a degreed and certified health and fitness lifestyle coach and consultant who has devoted her life to motivating and strengthening the body and mind of others. With over 20 years’ experience, Lisa has a B.S. degree in Sports & Fitness Management from the University of Alabama, developed and managed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Health & Wellness Facility and programs in Huntsville, Ala., is board certified by the National Board of Fitness Examiners and possesses certifications from AFAA, Polestar/Balanced Body, Reebok U, SCW Fitness and American Heart Association. She is currently a group exercise leader at Destin Health & Fitness and an independent personal trainer in the Destin area, diversely and extensively trained in classical and modern Pilates, lifestyle management, personal training, group exercise and post-rehabilitation. Have a fitness question for Lisa? Email BeActive850@gmail.com.