Nine sure-fire steps to get the most from training, exercise

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Training and getting in shape isn’t exactly rocket science. You lift, do cardio, try to eat right and get plenty of sleep (well, at least enough). It is not that complex, but it is not that simple either.

Many people can follow the same training routines and eat the same foods, yet their results may vary significantly. After our discussion last month about getting organized and focused, let’s look at some tips and tricks we can employ to maximize our results.

Drop sets.Your body can complete a fixed number of reps with a certain weight before it reaches the point of muscular failure. But don’t let the set end there. Reduce the weight by 10-30 percent and get a few more reps in. Then reduce it again 20-50 percent and rep out until failure to finish off the set.

Going for the max.Completing a one-rep max from time to time is a great way to stimulate some new muscular strength and growth in your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which in turn should aid in the completion of higher-rep sets. Make sure to have a training partner or spotter to ensure safe lifting and limit this style of training to one or two sets per workout and two to three sessions per week. Remember that while your muscle groups being targeted may have a full week to recover, your central nervous system (CNS) will need more rest when training with max-rep single.

Moderate cardio.You have two goals when using cardio. You wish to stay healthy and lean – without burning the precious muscle you desire to keep. There are two keys to finding success when using cardio exercise. First, use low- to moderate-intensity. Second, you will want to complete cardio on an empty stomach or following weight-training session to maximize fat burning possibilities.

Eliminate distractions.Leave the technology at home. Use the time between sets to focus and concentrate on the next set or exercise you will be performing. You will discover that mental energy you have been squandering skimming Facebook can actually be used to intensify training sets.

Keep it new all the time.Your muscles adapt very quickly to the stress and rigors of regular workouts. If you use the same training and programming all the time, you will stop building muscle and shedding fat. However, if you can find new ways to target the same muscle groups, these muscles will continue to grow to meet the new demands. Try new exercises, equipment, routines or go to a commercial gym if you train in the home – anything to provide new stimulus to the body.

Stretch.Even a quick stretch – 2-4 minutes – following a training session can provide your body with a great deal of toxicity release (lactic acid) and muscle soreness relief. Longer stretches will yield better results (30-second static-hold stretches). Remember: Warm up to stretch, don’t stretch to warm up.

Portion Control.Whether you are eating good foods or bad, portion control is the key to success. A slice of pizza is not going to derail your gains or losses. Keep the junk food in very small amounts to curb cravings and keep you sane. At the same time, don’t go overboard when it comes to clean food either. Unless you are a professional bodybuilder you probably won’t need 400 grams of protein per day. Eat a moderate diet made up from clean, natural foods and you will see results.

Keep track.Using a journal inthe gym and at the dinner table will provide a detailed means of tracking exactly how you perform each time and how the food you are consuming is working with your training. You will not grow by lifting the same weights all the time. If you want to get bigger, stronger or a more shapely you have to move more weight for more reps every single training session. Record your exercises, sets, reps and poundage with each workout, along with your protein, carbs and fats consumed with each meal.

Never settle.Competition is the fuel that makes us better. Complacency is our enemy. Hopefully that feeling of always wanting to be a better version of you is burning inside you. Keep that feeling alive. No matter how great of shape you get into, you can always improve.

Remember that everyone responds to training and dieting differently and that we all make gains and losses at different rates. However, by employing some of these techniques, you will enjoy better results from your efforts being put forth in the gym. You are competing against the former version of yourself – go kick its butt!


Beau Arney is owner of Mass Appeal Personal Performance Training, a personal training/fitness program design business in Carrollton. Contact Beau at (502) 645-9560 or via Facebook at Mappt Beau Arney.