4 Easy steps to exercise safely and efficiently
It's important to understand how to work out in the most effective, beneficial, and safest way for our bodies and muscles.
We all want a healthy and vital body, lean muscles and live a long, happy life. A big part of this is to learn how to exercise safely and efficiently in order to avoid injuries and muscular problems.
Why should you work out or exercise or just engage in any body movements?
Let’s start with the most obvious. And I understand that it is a cliche you’ve heard a million times. But it’s true.
Harvard Medical School states that exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators, and reduces the stress hormones.
Endorphins are responsible for the "runner's high" and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts.
You might not feel very happy during the workout, but that’s beside the point. My clients always ‘love’ me after the “and you are done!” part.
Another reason you should exercise at least 3 times a week is strengthening your bones, joints, and tendons. And of course, exercising gives a huge boost to your metabolism and immune system. The current situation teaches us that the immune system is not to be neglected.
And one more reason. Exercising increases your metabolism, so you can eat ‘more’ of the foods you enjoy, and makes you look better and sexier.
I would like to share with you a few easy tips on how to make the best out of any workout.
In order to do so, our focus should always be on performing any exercises the correct way, with proper forms, tempos, and repetitions. This is the very first thing I teach my clients.
One of the main aspects to facilitate the execution of the exercises properly and safely is creating a strong core and stabilizers, along with working on flexibility and mobility.
Flexibility allows you to move your joints pain-free with a wider range of motion.
Mobility allows you to control the whole range of motion with just muscles.
Many gym-goers or fitness fanatics tend to skip this part (aka warm-up and cooldown). It doesn't look like much, I understand that. But it is crucial to do these as well if you want to live a balanced and vital life.
Mobility is a ‘must-do’, as it gets our bodies ready for the workout. It helps you to minimize the risk of injuries and maximize the range of movement!
This is the reason why I always spend at least 10 minutes on playful core, balance, flexibility, mobility, and stability drills in my sessions.
Step 1 - Using correct posture while exercising
I often see people trying to lift heavy weights, swinging their entire bodies, or rushing the repetitions instead of controlling them, working slowly and focusing on isolating the muscles through proper posture.
These are among the most common mistakes in fitness I see happening daily. It leads to unnecessary injuries and frustration when people don't get the results they’ve been working so hard on.
I teach my clients how to maintain proper posture and hence seeing results faster.
Never compromise proper posture over speed. The only things you are speeding up are your chances to injure yourself.
Step 2 - Grow your muscle mass and increase resistance and strength
I will share with you the secret that helped me to achieve my physique naturally. It will change your view on spending hours and hours in the gym every single day.
Here we go…..
The best way to facilitate muscle growth & definition is by creating hypertrophy.
Hypertrophy is the growth of your muscle cells and it happens through exercise when we put our muscles under stress and tension, driving them to failure with many controlled repetitions, ideally 15-18 or 45 sec to 1 minute time. This is the method that works for me. I usually lift heavy weights, but I’ve been ‘work in progress’ for the past 20 years.
I always assess my clients' end goal, fitness level, and ability before I prepare their tailored fitness and nutrition program. My clients never go on any fad diets. I teach my clients how to eat a balanced diet that includes all the food groups. Proper amounts of healthy carbs included!
There are many theories out there explaining which method is better: heavy weights with less repetition or lighter weights with many repetitions.
There are many scientific studies done on this topic. One of the studies conducted in 2010 found, that for maximum gains, there needs to be significant metabolic stress on the muscles, plus a moderate degree of muscle tension.
“The way you lift will determine the way your muscles grow and change.”
Step 3 - Perform every rep efficiently
I cannot stress this one enough. When it comes to exercise safely and efficiently, make every rep count! Every. Single. One.
Another important aspect I teach my client is to understand the three phases of a single repetition and the ideal tempo.
The three phases are concentric, eccentric, and isometric.
Let me explain.
This is the most important part of every rep. The eccentric phase means lengthening of your muscles. This phase occurs when you return to the starting position of the move, for example lowering a dumbbell during biceps curl or squats.
The slower you go, the more muscle hypertrophy you are creating.
Concentric phases involve movements that shorten your muscles. This phase targets particular muscles to perform an action. Using the same example as above, flexing your muscle during a biceps curl is a concentric phase. Or standing up from a squat.
Isometric movements are muscle contractions that do not cause your joints to move. Your muscles are activated, but they are not required to lengthen or shorten, they are under constant tension. For instance, holding the squat position or holding the biceps curl at a 90-degree angle.
I have great success with my clients when we perform exercises with a 1:3 ratio. Meaning - 1 second to contract the muscle (concentric phase) and 3 seconds to return to the starting position (eccentric phase).
Step 4 - Split the workout into agonist/antagonist muscles and pulling/pushing days.
I always tell my clients to be smart when training and split the workouts in an agonist and antagonist muscle group in order to prevent muscle imbalance and laziness. This will help them, and you, to create a proper body posture and asymmetrically pleasing physique.
A practical example would be, if we train biceps today, we should train triceps the next day. Or you can also combine them on the same day. As long as you are training the antagonist of the muscle that's your main focus, you can’t go wrong.
I always teach my clients my ‘golden rule of pleasing and symmetrical physique’:
Do not train the same muscle groups two days in a row.
If you do, you will end up like those beach muscle people with huge overtrained upper bodies and teeny tiny lower bodies (aka ‘beach muscle and bird legs’). Please don’t get me wrong, I mean NO disrespect. I’m merely using this as an example of training the same muscle groups back to back.
Ok, let’s move on!
Here the examples of agonist and antagonist muscles:
- Triceps - agonist (pushing chain)
- Biceps - antagonist (pulling chain)
- Chest - agonist (pushing chain)
- Back - antagonist (pulling chain)
- Quads - agonist (pushing chain)
- Hamstrings - antagonist (pulling chain)
My method utilizes these splits in order to divide my clients’ workout days, muscle groups, and rest day. I cannot stress this one often enough:
Rest and good carbs!
I split my own workouts in pulling/pushing to maximize my time and effort. Simply put, if I do push today, I’m doing pull tomorrow. The only exception would be when I do a full-body-workout.
Whenever you are ready to get the body you’ve always wanted - I’ll be here to guide you (and not let you quit) all the way.
Bottom Line: Whether you’ve been exercising your whole life or just starting on this journey, avoiding injuries should be your priority. As we get older we become more prone to injuries. As well as repeating the moves with the wrong posture.
I can help you and guide you on your journey to the best version of yourself. When you decide it's time for you to get vital, healthy, and happy again - let's start talking.
Health is your priority and your true wealth. YOU got this!