Free Workout Tips
I call these "free workout tips" because they are freely available to anyone who wants to use them. These are not "secret tips" or the latest fad. They are simply the fundamentals for achieving great results from your workout. These are the same free tips you would receive from a professional trainer. They are the same free tips you would receive from an advanced body builder.
No matter what muscle group you're exercising, whether it's your abs, chest, arms, or your back, your workout will more effective if you use them in conjunction with these tips.
Tip 1: Use Good Form
This is one of the most important tips I can give you. Any workout is only effective if you use good form.
When you first learn a new exercise, there is an overwhelming temptation to do it the "easy way". You find that it's much easier to do if you "help" your muscles by "swinging" or "rocking" your body back and forth to assist yourself in completing the movement. Please don't!
To use good form, you perform the movement slowly and deliberately. Keep your mind focused on the muscle group you're working on. Ensure only those muscles are doing the hard work. You don't swing or rock your body back and forth to try to help you do more reps. You keep your body solid and steady. When you do this, you'll actually feel your muscles working - you'll get that "burning" feeling!
When you use good form, you will find that you can't do as many movements in each set. For example, if using bad form, you might be able to do 20 crunches at a time. If you use good form, you might find that you can only do 7 or 8 reps. DON'T DESPAIR! This is GOOD! This means that you know how to use good form. You will find that it's much easier to increase from 7 or 8 when you use good form, than to try to increase from 20 using bad form. Also, it's better to do less reps using good form than to do more reps with bad form.
Tip 2: Variation
Add some variation to your workout. Instead of using the same set of exercises over and over again for weeks or even months, try rotating your exercises. For example, after 3 or 4 weeks, try replacing one exercise with another and do that for 3 or 4 weeks. Then swap back after another 3 or 4 weeks.
Without rotating your excercises, your muscles become accustomed to the exercises and you'll notice that they don't burn like they used to. Replacing an exercise with another should bring that burning feeling back!
Tip 3: Lose body fat
If your goal is to become more toned, you need to keep your body fat low.
This tip is essential if you want to get a "sixpack". An ab workout strengthens your abdominal muscles. But, no matter how strong your abs get, nobody will see them if you've got body fat in front of them. Therefore, you need to compliment your ab workouts with aerobic excercise and a healthy diet.
For aerobic excercise, incorporate a 20 minute run or cycle into your workouts, or if you prefer, attend an aerobics class. I recommend doing this prior to your workout. This will ensure that your muscles and joints are nice and warm and will reduce the likelihood of injury.
For a healthy diet, eat a balanced diet low in saturated fat and rich in protein and fibre. I'm not going to recommend any fad diets. Balance is the key. Don't go overboard. As long as you combine a balanced diet with regular aerobic excercise (at least 20 minutes per day, 3 - 4 days per week), you should see improvements.
Tip 4: Add resistance
Most weight training includes resistance. When you do bench press, the barbell and its weights are providing the resistance. When it comes to exercises that you don't use weights with, for example, when you're working your abs, eventually you'll find that you can do so many crunches that you don't feel that it's having much of an impact. This is a good time to add some resistance.
With crunches, you can add resistance by holding a weight close to your chest. If you include incline crunches into your workout, try increasing the incline so that it's more vertical. These will make each rep harder and you will really feel the burn.
Tip 5: Don't Quit!
You will only see results if you keep at it. If you find yourself getting bored after a few weeks, try introducing a new exercise. If you don't see results immediately don't worry - keep at it.