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Tom’s Fitness & Paris Martial Arts

Exercise Smart, Part 1

Posted: May 02, 2006

I just had a conversation with someone about how things have changed—for the worse. They’d lost quite a bit of weight before, but have gained it back.

How did that happen? What’s going on? This is a pretty common thing, and I know it can be pretty depressing. You should see my “quit file.” It’s five inches thick and filled with people who have stopped trying for one reason or another.

First of all, I have to say that individual is extremely dedicated to their exercise routine—never missing a workout. So what’s going on? Let’s look at the workout side of things first.

A success coach once said “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” This principle also applies to your body when working out. We’ve got to learn how to exercise smart! Here are some rules to follow.

1. Be consistent. Show up. Get it done. Show me someone who works out daily for a couple years, and I’ll show you someone who’s close to their ideal body weight.

2. Always push it a little. I’m always amazed at how often I see people doing the same thing they did the last time I saw them working out—and it might be months later! I wish I could personally train or coach everyone all the time—because man, do I push them. But they need to learn to push themselves.

3. Go slower. It’s safer, and it’s much more work, too! Slow it down—especially on the downward lowering part (eccentric contraction). That will get you way better results.

4. Use your full range of motion. Don’t do short motions. Contract the muscle all the way, and let it stretch out fully the other way. This is more work, and it also makes you more flexible.

5. Start using some free weights like dumbbells and barbells, in addition to the machines. While machines provide a good starting point, they have their limitations. Free weights force you to balance the weights, so all your stabilizer muscles, and your entire core (abs, obliques, low back) have to work more. You burn more calories, and build more muscle, making you a better fat burner, too!

6. Change it up. Every fourth week, do a “deload” week, where you just go crazy—doing different exercises. Your body is “fearfully and wonderfully made” and it adapts very quickly—getting used to things. Shake it up a little!

7. Get enough rest. It takes at least 96 hours for a muscle to fully recover. Try using a 3 Day Split instead. On Monday do Pushing (chest, shoulder, triceps). On Wednesday, do your Lower Body (legs, hips, low back). On Fridays, do your Pulling (back & biceps). Do your Cardio on your other days.

If you do these things, it will start going back the other way. Next week, we’ll look at how to do Smart Cardio Exercise, and later, we’ll look at how to get back to eating right. Hang in there!