8 tips from pro trainers to enhance your workouts

If you’re not fortunate enough to have a professional trainer to develop an exercise plan for you and, even better yet, help coach you through the workout, I have the next best thing.
Here are eight workout tips from pro trainers I’ve gathered to help make the most of your workouts:
1. Do exercises you enjoy – Try to incorporate as many exercises as you can that you enjoy into your regular fitness regimen. That will make you more likely to stick with it. For instance, go for bike rides, hikes or swims if that’s what you like best.
2. Know when to push yourself – Too often people get in a comfortable workout routine. It’s important to do more than just plod along at the gym if you want to get the best results.
If you are performing reps of 12 or more on certain exercises with correct form, then most trainers would tell you “Time to move up! Try going up 5 or 10 pounds.”
When it comes to cardio, consider doing interval training where you walk, run or climb at a faster pace for several minutes and then bump back down to a slower speed.
3. Exercise in increments – You don’t need to get all your exercise in at once. If it helps you, do 15 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night, or some other combination.
4. Write it down – Record your workouts in a notebook. It will help you chart your progress and set goals, as well as offer a visual reminder if there are blocks of days missing where you slacked off. On the flip side, it will be good positive re-enforcement to see a consistent workout record written down.
5. Take it slow – One of the most common mistakes I see at gyms, and trainers comment on, too, is that people lift weights too quickly.
Good form requires that you lower the weight slowly and in control and then power it up in a controlled motion. Slow down and feel your muscles work.
6. Don’t cheat – If you’re doing barbell curls, don’t cheat by swinging your back. On the bench press, don’t arch so much that half your back is in the air. It’s usually more important to use less weight and have good form than to excessively cheat, although some trainers will cite exceptions for advanced lifters.
7. Check it out – Look in a mirror if possible to watch your form. You’ll be able to get a better idea what your form looks like. On squats, for example, you want to go down to a position where your knees are parallel, but don’t go past parallel. Looking in the mirror will help you get a better idea of how you’re doing.
8. Socialize the right way – If you get a workout buddy or join an exercise class it can help make exercising more fun and provide added motivation.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. Consult a doctor before making any significant changes in your exercise routine or diet. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at aaron@athomefitness.com