How To Get The Most Out Of Every Workout – Tips To Do It Right

When you were a kid, how many times did you hear “if you are going to do it… do it right”? How many times have you said this to your own child?

Working out is no different. If you are going to make the effort to show up and exercise, you should do it right so you get the best results and the maximum benefit.  What do you think is the most important part of resistance training? The amount of weight? The number of repetitions? The number of sets? The variety of exercises?

All good guesses, but when doing any type of exercise, especially weight training or resistance training, the correct form is the most important component. If you are lifting a weight that causes you to compromise your form, the weight is too heavy and you are wasting your time. Chances are you are barely working the muscle that you want to work, and you can really risk injuring yourself.

When proper form is followed, weight lifting not only increases your muscle strength but also:

  1. Helps to burn body fat
  2. Improves muscle tone
  3. Increases bone density

In order to maximize the benefits of your weight training program, you’ll want to start with the right amount of weight. To determine this amount for your personal routine, find a weight you are comfortable with. The rule of thumb is that you should be able to lift it 12-15 times. Don’t worry if you don’t choose the right weight on you first time.  It can be a kind of trial and error, until you get that perfect poundage. As your strength increases, gradually up the amount of weight you lift. If the amount of weight you’re lifting affects your form, decrease it, or reduce the number of repetitions.

The more you focus on proper resistance training techniques and form, the more you’ll benefit from your weight training program.

Okay, great Musclemommy!, but how do I learn the right form?  If you are primarily working out at a gym, speak with a trainer.  This does not mean you have to hire a trainer, as most gyms have a handful of trainers that are not busy at any given time, and they should be happy to answer any form and technique questions.  If you are doing exercises at home using DVDs or other equipment, there should always be an informational and instructional section or sheet. Please read it… it can make all the difference. If you’re unsure of the right form to follow after speaking with a trainer or reading instructions, you can always look at weight lifting pictures online or even videos on You Tube. I go to You Tube all the time to check out proper form. And of course there is ‘yours truly’. I will answer any questions you have about…well…most anything that has to do with fitness and nutrition.

Here are a few more tips to keep you safe and maximize your strength training benefits:

1. Before lifting, warm up for 5-10 minutes with cardio activity like walking.

2. As you become familiar with your routine, don’t be tempted to skip your warm up because it will leave you more prone to injury. I will always do a set of 10-15 reps with 2 pound weights, just to get the motion down and the blood pumping. I do this warm up for the first exercise per muscle group.

3. Breath. People are often tempted to hold their breath. In fact, you may not even realize you’re doing it. My trainer used to tell me to breathe all the time. I never realized how often I would hold my breath. Proper breathing is part of proper form. It’s important not to hold your breath because doing so can dangerously raise your blood pressure. Breathe out when you lift and in as you lower the weight. If you find it too hard to concentrate on when to breathe out and when to breathe in, just concentrate on your breathing so that you are taking consistent, deliberate breaths.

4. Don’t hurry through your routine. Keep movements controlled and slow, isolating the muscles you’re working. If you are in a hurry, opt for doing a fewer number of exercises, but focus on your form. Keeping it slow also prevents you from using momentum to lift the weight.

5. Don’t overdo it. If an exercise causes pain, stop immediately. Don’t try it for a few days or reduce the amount of weight you’re lifting.

Read, Set….Do It Right!


Workout To The Max – Avoid These Three Mistakes

      If you ask my husband, I am somewhat of a control freak.  My kids call it a KIADIA (know it all, do it all).  I am trying to work on this and lighten up a bit, but sometimes I just can’t help it.

The gym is no different, as I am constantly critiquing people and telling them how to do each exercise better. Well, in my mind at least.

I have a list of pet peeves. Things I see people doing at the gym that make me crazy. I feel sorry for them a lot of times, because they make the effort to get to the gym at 5:00 AM, yet they don’t live up to their full potential. So here is a list of my top three.

1. Resting way too long in between sets
If you go to the gym for a little relaxation and socializing, then that is one thing, but if you are there to work your body, then you want to keep that heart rate elevated to keep burning fat. A general rule is taking 30 to 60 seconds to rest before you move on. It will keep you in the fat burning zone, and as an added bonus you are done faster.

2. Forgetting the range of motion
For most exercises, it is important to go through the entire range of motion. The worst offenders are the people doing bicep curls without fully extending their arms.  I’m not sure what muscles they are working, but it is definitely not biceps. Using that full range of motion will challenge your muscles to the max and your results will show it.

3. Minding everything except your muscles
Don’t just go through the motions of exercise. Give it 100% of your effort, by feeling the muscle working. Making that mind muscle connection will intensify your workout by paying attention to the task at hand. If you are doing a set of 12 reps, you should be struggling by rep 11. If that final rep is not a challenge, it is time to add more weight.

If you are going to do it, do it to the max.


Think about the after effects:
This is how I convince myself to not go back to bed when the alarm goes off at 4:14 a.m. I do this every single day. I never think about the actual act of exercising. I think about the after effects. I keep in mind how great I will feel after I’m done working out. On the flip side, I think about how disappointed and angry I will be with myself later in the morning for not exercising. I also think about my post-exercise routine, which is taking a nice shower and having a great cup of coffee while in my pajamas after the kids go to school.

Get dressed:
I work out in the morning, but many people exercise after work. When you get home, change into your “gym” clothes. This way, there’s one less obstacle standing in your way of exercising. When we’re tasked with something we don’t want to do or think we are unable to do, we count and dread each step required. By changing into your workout clothes as soon as you get home, you’re ready to jump onto the treadmill without any contemplation.

Change it up:
You may not have the urge to exercise today because you’re tired or burntout. One of the best ways to rejuvenate your exercise routine is to switch itup. I do the elliptical almost every day, and some days it is dreadful. On those days when I feel like I might not do cardio, I let myself off the hook from doing the elliptical and I do something different or new. I take a cardio kick boxing class or alternate the rowing machine and stair climber instead. Some days I will go swimming. Do something that you haven’t done before and add that to your exercise mix.

Do anything:
If nothing works motivating you to exercise, at the very least do something.Walk for 5 or 10 minutes, ride a bike down the street, anything. This keepsyour routine of working out everyday going, gets your blood flowing faster,elevates your heart rate, and is just overall good for you. You also may end up doing more than you think you can once you get moving.


Strength training or weight lifting is key for developing different muscle groups and getting fit. There are plenty of machines, free weights, and body weight exercises that you can use in your fitness routine.

Free weights are beneficial for strengthening the entire body. Exercises on free weights can be done at the gym or in your home. Proper form is the most important thing when using free weights. If you use proper form, you will seriously target the muscle you want to build. If you do not use proper form, you may be targeting a completely different muscle or muscle group. Total control is needed when lifting to prevent joints and muscle injuries.

The extra benefit of free weights is that your entire body is supporting the weight. That is why the muscles actively move during the exercise. As you lift the free weights, weight stabilization also takes place keeping your body in a steady manner. This promotes additional muscle strength.

The major advantage of exercise machines over free weights is safety and easy usage. These machines are equipped with control and guides to direct the resistance paths. Heavier weights are more comfortable to lift, increasing your muscle mass.

If you have access to a gym, using a combination of free weights and machine weights is best. You get the best of both worlds. If you want to lift heavy, stick with the machines. If you want a better focus on a certain muscle, and you know your form is perfect, go with the free weights.

A note about body weight exercises: Lifting your own body weight can be very effective. It doesn’t require any extras… just you. You can do body weight exercises anywhere and get a great all over body workout, since using body weight exercises also employs many smaller muscle groups for stability. Good form is a must. An example of some great body weight exercises are:
1. Push ups
2. Plank

3. Sit ups / Crunches
4. Squats
5. Lunges
6. Chair dips
7. Arm circles (just like you use to do in fifth grade P.E. class)
8. Shoulder push ups
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