PhD Nutrition Brand Ambassador Nigel Calland is Personal Trainer and Fitness Model based in London, UK. Check out his top 10 tips for reaching your fitness goals!
1. A proper warm-up should be part of every workout. But don’t waste time and energy with outdated warm-up routines—side bends and toe touches went out with headbands and short-shorts. Whether or not you’re still sweating to the oldies, stick to warm-ups that match the workout at hand. When in doubt, a dynamic warm up to get a sweat going primes the body for the real work that lies ahead.
2. Always focus on form and good technique when lifting weight, don’t focus on the weight itself. Forget the ego when you’re training in the gym. A mind and muscle connection is essential to building muscle.
3. Performing the same exact workout day after day will likely lead to a training plateau – the place where progress comes to a screeching halt. One way to avoid potential roadblocks is by keeping a workout journal (pretty much a dear diary for grown-ups). But instead of juicy gossip – record the exercises, sets, reps and the amount of weight used during each training session. Then use these notes to create new workouts that are more challenging than previous sessions.
4. Don’t feel bad ditching the treadmill—there’s a whole world of fitness out there waiting to be discovered. Try something new like swinging a kettlebell or busting a move at Zumba class. Learning new skills with new people in a new environment can go a long way towards making this exercise habit stick.
5. It might be tempting to fire off emails in between sets, but a trip to the gym should include more work than rest. Try upping the intensity by using a stopwatch to monitor rest between sets. For those with fitness and fat loss goals, keep breaks under 60 seconds and cap workouts at 45 minutes (full steam ahead!).
6. Regular exercise is a healthy habit. But with respect to exercise, too much of a good thing is called overtraining (or the point of diminishing returns where the body, immune system, and progress break down). Avoid a disaster by adhering to this equation: Results = Work + Recovery. Stretching, swimming, or yoga can all be part of an active recovery protocol. And never underestimate the importance of sleep!
7. Monitoring carb intake is one of the best ways to play around with your weight, I don't dispute that, I do it myself and it can be a powerful tool for people who need to lose a significant amount of weight. But the everyday athlete has no need to go bonkers cutting out all kinds of carbs just for the sake of it, because that sort of eating behaviour is not sustainable for an endurance athlete. Carbohydrates are absolutely essential to your diet, especially if you're an athlete. There are no such thing as good carbs or bad carbs – just too much carbs! If you're an athlete on a low carb diet, you're basically sabotaging yourself. Good luck topping off your muscle glycogen stores by eating a protein and fat centric diet. Put the proverbial fork in this one - this fad diet has finally bit the dust amongst athletes who know better. Next time your spin instructor starts touting the amazing low-carb lifestyle he or she leads, throw your used sweat towel at them and switch gyms.
8. Set smart goals. This is simple enough, just like the nifty little acronym that helps us to remember proper goal setting – SMART. Make those goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Your goals must be all of those things for you to succeed. Write them down if you have to, and keep track of your progress.
9. Mix it up. Don’t stick to the same workout routine for too long, or your body will adjust to the stress level and you won’t be getting an effective workout. For strength training, change your routine every few weeks. For cardio, it’s best to cross train rather than, say, to run every time.
10. Compound exercises. Instead of isolating your muscles with exercises such as the bicep curl, you can maximize the time you spend in a workout by doing exercises that work out multiple muscle groups at once. With just a few exercises, you could get a full-body workout. Another benefit is that your muscles are working together as they do in the real world, rather than alone. Some great compound exercises include squats, deadlifts, good mornings, lunges, push-ups, bench presses, military presses, rows, pull-ups, dips and more.