If you’re reading this article, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess it’s not the first fitness article you’ve ever seen. One thing you’ve probably noticed is the abundance of information everyone is throwing at you in regards to fitness. Every fitness writer on the planet has their own opinion they want to impart on you. As I’m sure you’ve found, a lot of times, information is contradicting, leaving you to guess which is the most correct. Often, people will become so overwhelmed with information, they fail to act on it at all, for fear of picking bad advice. Forget all the extraneous information for the time being. Consider the list below, your fitness Bible. These tidbits of information and widely accepted by the vast majority of fitness professionals and are KEY to helping you achieve your goals. If you make an honest committment to stick by these 10 rules, you WILL realize results. Forget the rest, stick with this list, and you’ll be good to. Now, on to the 10 golden rules of fitness…
1. Spot toning does not work. No matter what informercials or weight loss products tell you, you simply cannot spot tone that area of fat on your stomach, or legs, or arms. Fat loss is the result of a consistent and effective cardio program which causes a total loss of fat over your entire body. On a related note, doing a thousand crunches isn’t going to burn the fat on your stomach, but cardio will.
2. Vary your workouts. Whether you are doing a cardio-heavy routine, or a resistance-heavy routine, you MUST vary the exercises, weights, and manner in which you exercise. Your body grows accustomed to a specific type of stimulus after only a few weeks and progress will be diminished the longer you stick to the same thing. Add supersets, do high-intensity interval training, start swimming, go for high reps/low weight…you get the idea.
3. Protein + a simple carb is VITAL after a workout. You have a 30-45 minute window upon finishing your workout to get your protein. Your muscles are hungry for the nutrient and you can further the benefits of your workout by feeding your muscles what they crave. The addition of a simple carb to your protein shake further helps drive protein into your muscles to be sure they suck up every last drop. This meal is crucial. If you are skipping this, you are simply cutting yourself short.
4. Diet plays a bigger part in your body composition than exercise. Want to be lean, strong, and healthy? Exercise certainly plays a large part, but diet is the single most important factor it determining what your body looks like. A poor diet and a lot of exercise is going to get you no where. Give your diet the attention it deserves and properly plan healthy meals so you don’t find yourself resorting to less nutritous options.
5. Lifting legs will help you grow all over. Your legs are the largest muscle group in your body. When you lift any muscle, your body releases testosterone and other chemicals that foster muscle growth. By lifting with your legs (especially if you don’t give them much attention), you will be giving your body an instant boost of muscle-buildilng hormones that will help you develop in other areas. Pretty much a legal form of steroids…
6. Ladies, lifting weights will not make you look like a man. Women who lift weights regularly do not look like men, female body builders, etc. They look lean, long, toned, and sexy. The simple act of lifting weights will not make you big and bulky. Your bodies aren’t designed to build muscle like that. Now, if you are eating a female body builders diet and/or using unnatural supplements, that’s another story.
7. Lifting weights without proper fuel is a waste of time. Tied into the previous point, but this one is more for the guys out there. If you are going to spend the time lifting weights, mixing up your routine, and doing whatever else it takes to force muscle growth, you need to be eating properly. Muscles do not grow on their own; they need fuel. Make sure to take in extra calories when you are trying to build muscle or your muscle mass and strength will continue to plateau.
8. Compound movements are king. Compound movments, which require multiple muscle groups to complete are the foundation of any great weight training program. Deadlifts, bench press, wide-grip pullups, squats, and clean and presses are great for buildling a lean and defined body. Don’t neglect them. Find a way to include them into what you do; it is absolutely vital for your success.
9. HIIT (high-intensity interval training) will help you reach goals faster. You probably already know that cardio is neccessary to lose serious weight and tone up. But doing HIIT, i.e. jog for a minute, sprint at 100% effort for 20 seconds, repeat, is far more effective at building your cardiovascular ability AND helping you burn calories. HIIT shocks your body in a way that a static 5mph jog never could. As an added benefit, it’ll help you cut down on the time spent in the gym.
10. Building a lean, athletic build and becomign fit doesn’t require a gym. Contrary to what gyms want you to believe, you don’t NEED to be a member of a gym to get fit. Certainly they have their benefits, but if you simply can’t afford it, or don’t have the time, or whatever the reason, do NOT give up. There are so many great exercises and routines you can do with next to no equipment, being in a gym is not a requirement so many make it out to be. A well-designed at home program will get you exactly where you need to be.
This list certianly isn’t comprehensive, and I’m sure others will wonder why I didn’t add this or that. The point is though, if you take away only 10 things from all the fitness bloggers, writers, etc. that you read…let these 10 be the ones that make the biggest impression. Understand them, know them, and follow them, and you’ll find yourself making gains you never thought were possible.