It is important to make your time spent exercising count. This week’s Focus Point is going to highlight 5 training tips that will equip you with the tools and knowledge necessary to maximize your time spent in the gym.

1) Use F.I.T.T

F.I.T.T stands for Frequency, Intensity, Time (or duration) and Type. As our goals, lifestyle and fitness level changes our exercise prescription must also change. Exercise intensity, frequency, duration and type can all be manipulated to accommodate these changes while still allowing us to maintain and even improve our fitness level.

The key is to remember that, when decreasing one variable, there must be a corresponding increase in another (i.e. a decrease in exercise frequency should lead to an increase in intensity or duration in order to improve/maintain your fitness level).

2) Take Care of Yourself

No matter what your training goals are, taking care of your body must be a priority. Below are four areas you need to address to ensure you are getting the most out of your training:

  • Pre/Post Workout Nutrition: Keep your plan simple…give your body the fuel it needs to perform prior to training as well as the nourishment needed to recover.
  • Movement Prep and Recovery/Regeneration: Movement prep and recovery and regeneration are designed to prepare your body to workout and take care of it after. Be sure to take your time and give these two facets of your program the attention they deserve.
  • Sleep: Adequate sleeps plays a major role in helping our bodies recover from exercise, restore energy levels and consolidate important experiences and memories. Poor sleep is associated with obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, decreased movement coordination/muscle repair and increased mortality.
  • Hydration: Our bodies simply do not function well without proper hydration. Even being slightly dehydrated can negatively impact how we perform physically and mentally.

3) Focus on your Posture

When it comes to moving safely and effectively, good posture is essential. However, it is not easy to come by, especially when so many of us sit in front of a computer for the majority of the day. Keep in mind these three postural checkpoints to ensure you are staying in proper alignment:

  • Where are your thumbs pointed? In a relaxed seated or standing position, your thumbs should be pointed forward (not toward your thighs), with the musculature of your back subtly engaged and holding them in position.
  • Are your ribs flared upward? A major postural compensation is allowing the ribs to flare up and the low back to excessively arch, which overtime may lead to low back injury.
  • Are you goose-necking? Goose-necking, or forward head posture, is when your head excessively protrudes forward and should be avoided. Keep your chin drawn in towards your neck and ears in line with your shoulders.

4) Know your Endpoints

Endpoints define a safe and effective range of motion for a specific movement. They are the transition points where a force is decelerated in one direction and then accelerated in the opposite direction. The key is to be stable and sharp at any movement’s endpoint, failure to do so can result in sub-optimal performance and potential injury.

5) Make Fitness Fun

Keep in mind the following strategies to make fitness fun for you:

  • Create a challenge or specific training goal:  Training for a specific goal or challenge can be motivating and spark new life into your fitness routine.
  • Partner up:  Exercising with a partner can act as a great accountability tool and give you the extra push you need to get going.
  • Get Outside: Try incorporating activities such as hiking, mountain biking, swimming, rollerblading, or rock climbing (just to name a few).
  • Play sports and games: Playing team or individual sports is a great way to have fun while staying active.

For this week and moving forward, keep these 5 training tips in mind to ensure you are getting the most out of your training. Be sure to talk with your trainer and identify any areas in which you can improve!