Tease out the couldas, shouldas, and wouldas of fitness with these top training tips. Whether you are just getting started on your fitness journey or you are a self-proclaimed fitness junkie, these tips are for you. Just like many other topics, the abundant information about exercise can potentially do more harm than good for your goals. You might question, how can you tell what is myth or fact? What strategy is going to be most helpful for you? Where do you even start, and then how do you keep progressing?
To help answer these head-spinning questions, look no further than the elite Scottsdale personal trainers at Advantage Training. They have chimed in on their top training tips that have the biggest impact to get you started and keep you going. From novice trainees to fitness gurus to elite athletes, these tips are applicable to anyone with a goal in mind and an ambition to improve.
10 Top Training Tips
1. Determine Your “Why”
Before jumping into any new habit or goal, your greatest driver will be why you want to make that change. Thinking specifically about exercise, it may be a completely new behavior for some, and yet for others, it is integral part of life. Regardless of what part of the spectrum you land, without a clear vision, your motivation and will power may be quickly diverted by something that has a greater influence on you, such as chocolate cake or Netflix and a comfy couch. Instead, find your fitness inspiration so that investing in you and your goals becomes a permanent habit.
2. Define Your Metrics of Success
Many fitness results are measured by performance or achievement, such as PRs or the number on the scale. However, those strength or weight metrics aren’t the universal definition of success. That’s right – your goals are more than just a number. How you define and measure your personal achievements will relate back to your ultimate “why.” Only you can know what results will be fulfilling during training and what will encourage you to keep going. You might feel most successful as your mile time starts decreasing. Maybe it’s being able to get through a day with less pain. Try to make your fitness results focused more on the process rather than based on an end point. You will take greater enjoyment in training and feel positive reinforcement after each workout!
3. Find the Right Trainer
Now more than ever, it is imperative to find a personal trainer who is fitting for you, your body, and your goals. Between print-out certifications to specialized experts, there is a huge discrepancy in the quality of personal trainers. It’s not always easy to tell the difference between the quality of trainers, either. To start, some of the top certifications to look for are ACSM, NASM, ACE, and NSCA. A step above those is CSCS. At Advantage Training, we emphasize the importance of having trainers who are FMS certified as well.
Finding a trainer with letters behind their name is just one piece. You may also consider asking about their experience level, what kind of clients they typically work with, and what kind of programs or personal training packages they offer that will be fitting to your goals. Also, be sure to connect with their personality. You want to choose a person who you connect with and who will ignite your motivation, even on those low-energy days you don’t want to workout!
4. Create a Plan and Stick to It
This is included as one of the top training tips not because it is a new and novel idea, but because it truly makes a difference in people’s training commitment, consistency, and results. It is one thing to half-heartedly say to yourself on Sunday, “I will absolutely, definitely, 100% go to the gym three times this week.” But how often does Friday come around and you have only made it to the gym once? Asking the right questions and creating a structured workout plan – complete with a specific schedule and exercise routine – is a simple way to holding yourself accountable.
5. Perform Compound Movements
The term “compound movements” might not sound meaningful to you, but what if instead the phrase said “save time in the gym“? Put simply, compound movements are exercises that use multiple muscle groups at once. By recruiting more muscle fibers within one movement, you can do fewer exercises, engage a wide range of muscle groups, and still get great results. Some examples of common compound movements are pushups, squats, lunges, and jump rope. Try including them in your next workout!
6. Keep Challenging Your Body As It Adapts
Anytime you start moving your body differently from your typical habits, it sends a physiological signal for the muscles, joints, and heart to adapt appropriately. It could be getting started on a new strength routine, trying yoga, or refreshing your running intensity. You will likely see or feel positive changes in your body from your efforts (after any soreness subsides, of course)! As you remain consistent with exercise, this once new routine feels normal and expected, and your body thinks it’s normal, too. To avoid a fitness plateau in your training progress and fitness results, you must keep challenging your body with new physical demands. This is where the fun of training is limitless! You can always keep trying new movements and intensities to reach new heights and achievements – far beyond what you can dream!
7. Rely on Efficient & Effective Exercises
Efficient and effective exercises are going to be specific to each person; the exercises that are most impactful for John may not be the same exercises that will benefit Jane. But how can you know what kind of exercises are going to be best for you? One suggestion is to have a certified trainer take you through an exercise evaluation. At Advantage, we have a comprehensive Performance Assessment that guides the design of our workout plans for each member. Having a trainer construct an individualized program and not just hand you a cookie cutter list will ensure that the selected exercises are effective and structured efficiently.
8. Maintain Intensity
Being committed to your fitness routine doesn’t require you to spend hours in the gym 4-5 days per week. Rather, one of the most important top training tips is practicing the right workout intensity. The right workout intensity is going to individual to you and what aligns with your goals. We can all relate to the times in life when some weeks are extra busy, and you might be kept from training as many days as you would like. Have no fear – even if you make it to the gym one or two days, maintaining your intensity will give you the biggest bang for your buck. You might be asking, “How do I know what is the right intensity?” One reliable tool is the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale. This subjective scale will continue to adapt with you as you make strides in your fitness!
9. Eat Enough to Fuel Your Life
Some training tips are not directly about exercise and instead are about what supports your progress and results. One of the biggest factors is what you eat! Food and exercise absolutely go hand in hand in infinite ways. Without a doubt, what you eat before and after your workout is crucial, but your gym time is only a small percentage of your day. What you feed your body throughout the entire day is going to positively (…or negatively) impact not just your gym performance, but also your work performance, personal interactions, and health.
Start with the basics – choose high quality food and eat an adequate quantity to fuel your workouts and your life. If you have never been guided on what, when, and how much to eat, consider setting yourself up for success with nutrition coaching. Need an idea of what nutrition coaching involves? You can brush up on what food and lifestyle considerations our Scottsdale nutritionist covers with clients.
10. Manage Your Stress & Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is the hormone that results from stress. Sure, exercise itself is a stressor on the body, and cortisol does indeed spike during a workout. Outside of exercise, too many people have high internal stress levels that manifest from disease or the extreme demands of daily life. Unfortunately, this internal stress largely influences your training quality, motivation, and results (not to mention your overall health).
Cortisol is not something to be afraid of necessarily. In healthy individuals, cortisol levels naturally ebb and flow throughout the day when chronic internal stress is not present. However, too many Americans live day to day with high stress and chronically elevated cortisol levels. Sadly, some people might not even remember what it feels like not to be stressed! Stressors could be triggered from personal life, work demands, disease, little sleep, and poor eating. Intentionally using exercise as stress management will help to keep your cortisol at optimal levels. The release of endorphins helps you feel great during a workout, and exercise impacts the rest of your day by helping you to inherently respond to stress better! Furthermore, controlling your cortisol levels will prime your body with other benefits. You will make faster training adaptations, promote good sleep quality, and prevent emotional eating that could compromise your fitness results.