I have future posts planned featuring more workouts, especially geared towards those who've never touched a dumbbell before in their life. Before I get to all that, I think it would be beneficial to explain my fitness philosophy - something I probably should've did a few "sample workouts" ago. Knowing that, you'll have a better idea of why I train myself and others like I do.
1. Lift Weights
Up and down, side to side, back and forth. Lifting weights, or some form of strength training, provides incredible results in the short-term. Beautiful curves in the form lean muscle, a revved up metabolism to torch fat, and the functional strength to just generally kick butt at life. More importantly, think about the long term effects. Strength training increases bone density and muscle mass - something that rapidly diminishes as we age. That could be the difference between a 70-year-old you worrying about falling and breaking a hip walking down the hall to dinner in your assisted living facility or the other 70-year-old version of yourself who takes daily walks on the beach from your retirement home in Mexico. I'll take the latter please.
2. Keep It Simple
The best exercise programs don't require a lot of fancy machines. They aren't born out of 3 AM infomercials either. We're hell-bent on trying to discover "the secret" to body transformation in the form of some gadget, DVD, or celebrity fitness trainer's method. The truth is, we've had the answer all along. Stick to the basics. Move your body in its natural movement patterns and engage as much of it as possible (i.e. compound movements that use more than one muscle group at a time). This can be accomplished with squats, lunges, deadlifts, push-up, pull-ups, overhead presses, rows, etc. Just reading that list should sound more exhausting than sitting on a bench doing bicep curls.
3. Train Intensely
The more you put into your training the more you will get out of it. Focus on what you're doing and put your maximum effort into each repetition. That means leaving the cell phone somewhere safe and trying to read your magazine at some other time. Strength training with compound movements should leave your heart racing and you gasping for air after each set. If not, it's time to graduate from the pink dumbbells. News flash: your handbag probably weighs more than them anyway. The more intensely you train, the more you will surprise yourself.
4. Focus on Form
Think quality over quantity. It doesn't matter if you can do 57 push-ups if you're dropping your hips and barely bending your elbows. Deadlifting two times your own body weight isn't really impressive if your back is rounded the entire time. Crappy form is not only inefficient, it's dangerous and could result in serious injury. Always consult a reputable fitness professional before starting an exercise program. Make sure you're doing everything correctly so your time and effort isn't in vain.
5. Be Consistent
Would you brush your teeth one day a year and expect a clean bill of health from your dentist? Of course not. You take care of your teeth so you don't have to hear your dentist tell you to floss more. And so people can stand to be within ten feet of you during conversation. Take the same approach to exercise. Just like our teeth require daily hygiene, our bodies require regular maintenance. They are built to move, so let them. I'd bet if our muscles started smelling funky from lack of exercise, we wouldn't even have to talk about this.
Put these five things into practice and be prepared to see results. They're basic, but they're challenging so expect to work hard. Stay tuned for a beginner strength training program to help you get started in the next few days!