Healthy Living

Working Out isn't Always Working Out

Do you ever get the feeling that even though you’re making all the right moves while working out, you just aren’t seeing the results you should be? I mean you go all savage and kill the cardio HIT classes, you run outside, and you even lift weights, but still, your results are minimal.

Usually, during this point in one’s fitness journey, three things tend to happen:

1)    The person quits cold turkey and ends up gaining whatever they lost

2)    They seek help from a trainer or a friend, basically getting an accountable partner  

3)    They go hardcore, pushing themselves even harder

Which option is the best? If you said #2, GREAT JOB!

The problem I see occurring over and over again (including with myself) is that our form is not correct. When that happens, not only are we creating more tension on our joints, but the workouts are not targeting the right muscles, which ultimately makes the exercise less effective. This is why having that accountability partner or a personal trainer is so important.  For the days when both options are not available, try doing your workouts in front of a mirror so you can ensure your form is correct.

What does the proper form even look like, though? Here are some exercises and the common mistakes people make:

1)    Lower Body-

Squats-

You can do a hundred squats everyday, but if your form is not correct, you will not only hurt your back and knees big time, but the results will be minimal.

To perform the perfect squat-remember always keep your legs hip-width apart or as wide as your shoulders. Make sure your navel is pulled towards your spine, your chest stays up, your knees stay behind your toes, and your back stays straight. Your feet will also always remain on the ground. Breathe in as you're pushing down and breathe out as you pull up, keep everything tight and push yourself up through your heels.That way you are working your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. As you come up remember to squeeze your butt to make sure you are using your glutes.  

Perfect the basic squat before jumping to leg press machines or squats with weights. A great way to start the squat exercise is to sit on a bench or chair to keep the perfect form.

Lunges-

What I love about lunges is that they strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves while also firming your butt. Like squats, you don’t need any equipment, can do them anywhere and if not performed correctly, they can hurt your back and knees.

To perfect the lunge movement-ensure your chest is lifted and your chin is always up. Keep your abs tight throughout the exercise, take a big step forward and sink straight down so that your front leg knee performs a 90-degree angle and your back-leg knee points down towards the floor (your back leg will have an ‘L’ shape). Your toes will balance your back leg as the sole of your feet will push off the ground. Pull back to your starting position and repeat on the opposite leg.

Remember not to force your bodyweight onto your knees as you go down into your lunge position and come backup, instead focus on using your quads, hamstrings, and glutes to push you up.The more you practice this, the easier it will feel, and once that occurs, try adding weights to your practice.  

2)    Cardio Machines

The Elliptical, Stair Master and Treadmill are all fantastic machines that help keep your heart rate up and those calories burned. They also make you hunch over and arch your back while walking since it seems more manageable. That small change in posture can hurt us on so many levels, though. It causes back and neck pain, creates unnecessary tension, and takes away from the overall exercise.

Always remember to keep your body straight and your core tight with your eyes looking straight ahead. Only hold on to the rails if you need it for balance. If you feel too tired, lower the speed level, and keep at it.

3)    Upper Body

Just like lower body movements, we can practice different upper body exercise all day, but without the correct form, we are more prone to injuries and will not get stronger. One of the most significant issues I see at my gym is that people (including myself in the beginning), tend to go too heavy on the weights (with the belief that it will help them get to their goal faster). However, it does the complete opposite; it slows your progression down because your form is incorrect, which leads you to swing your free weights instead of holding your steady position which ultimately leads to the muscles not working.

Best way to fix this issue is to start out using your body weight. Like all workouts, have a friend watch you or stand in front of a mirror as you perform each upper body workout and make sure your position is correct. You want to practice different exercises like the plank or push-up (you can easily modify each workout by resting on your knees as you perform the exercises).  Once the modified versions feel comfortable, try using lower weights (3-5 pound dumbbells) and focus on doing more of each activity instead of adding more weights right away. You can work on various arm exercises such as:

1)    Shoulder Press

2)    Bent-Over Row

3)    Front Raises

4)    Side Raises

To perfect any exercise routine, practice consistently and go slow to ensure your form is correct. Remember, it is always the quality of your training that is more important and will help you progress than the quantity, primarily to ensure no injuries occur.

I hope this blog post helps you or someone you know. As always, I’d love to hear from you. What are some concerns/questions you have with your workouts? Are you meeting all your fitness goals? Would you like to change things up? Feel free to leave your feedback or questions in the comments section below. Also, if you are looking for an accountability partner or a personal trainer, I’m your gal. Email me, and let’s start working on your goals together.

 Yours,