Work (out) smarter and harder

by Jeff Howerton

Okay, you’re one month into your renewed resolution. How’s it going? Are you still working out every day? Are you lifting weights as well as running? How long are you exercising? 30 minutes? 45 minutes? 1 hour? Are you still motivated, or are you ready to throw in the towel?

The month of February is usually the end of most fitness resolutions. By the fifth week of the (New Year’s) program, false diets and poorly constructed work out programs reveal their inadequacy, and their ineffectiveness creates little improvement in our bodies. This, in turn, discourages us. We run, walk and bike for hours. We may even include some actual weightlifting time, but still see no change. Usually, the next step is to quit and retreat back to our old, unhealthy habits, only to start the process again next year.

Is exercise planned to be that way? Absolutely not! Like anything else in life, fitness requires strategy. We have to know what we’re working out and why. A strategy starts with goals, and goals start with objectives. Objectives are narrower in scope and explain specific intentions for what we want to accomplish. Some might include:

  • Adding muscle tissue to chest, back, arms, etc..
  • Trimming fat around the waist and legs
  • Riding, walking and running for longer periods of time
  • Attaining a six pack
  • Sustaining good health

Goals, on the other hand, refer to more general expectations and often include:

  • Growing more lean muscle mass
  • Losing body fat
  • Developing greater endurance
  • Strengthening the body’s immune system

All that said, goals and objectives must already be established in order to know your best plan for exercise. Fat loss and endurance goals are going to consist of lighter weight intensity and higher repetition sets. Greater lean muscle gain will focus on heavier weight lifting and less repetition. And, regardless of our goals, every exercise must be performed with good technique to ensure maximum effectiveness and less opportunity for injury.

For those of you who are unsure of what to do, a personal trainer (ahem) is a good place to begin. Your workout is only as good as it is planned to be! What’s your objective? What’s your goal? What’s your plan?

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