Five tips to help elevate your fitness level

You’re putting in the time and effort in the gym, but still not getting the results you want.
Chances are your fitness regimen needs some fine-tuning.
Here are five tips to help elevate your fitness level.
1. 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, try interval training on the treadmill and/or elliptical machine to push yourself harder.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.

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. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at