Follow Each and Every One of These Free Exercise Tips for Great Results
Who Says Nothing in this life Comes for Free?
AskTheTrainer.com is dedicated to providing accurate information and exercise tips to help you achieve your fitness goals.
At times there may be so much information out there that you may feel overwhelmed and lose focus. This page of exercise tips will outline some of the most basic tips to follow to ensure your fitness program keeps making progress.
Which exercise tips you find valuable will depend on your current (or lack thereof) fitness program.
This page of free exercise tips will attempt to teach some of the most common, basic principles of physical fitness and exercise as well as clear up some of the most common misconceptions.
Are there Separate Exercise Tips for Men and Women?
The First Free Exercise Tip Debunks this Common Myth
Everyone knows that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Men and women have many glaring differences and what seems to be few similarities but as far as exercise goes, women and men are very close.
Obvious hormonal differences aside, both men and women have 206 bones in their skeleton and around 640 muscles attaching to their skeleton.
The axial skeleton of men and women is virtually identical with small differences in some bones with the main difference being a larger pelvic opening which is for child birth.
The main point of this free exercise tip is to debunk the idea that some exercises are for men and some exercises are for women. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
No one can argue the best cardiovascular exercises for men and women are the same, i.e. running, bicycling, stairs, hiking, etc. but when it comes to weights women and men should exercise completely differently? Of course not.
Exercise selection should always be consistent with your goals. This is where the differences begin. Women and men seldom have the same goals. Men usually love to build their chest muscles with bench press while most women could care less about their pec muscles.
Does this mean women should not perform the bench press? Of course not. Bench press is still a very important exercise for women but the amount of bench press necessary for a woman’s goals is far less than a man looking to build his chest.
To put it in simple words, the best exercises for men are also the best exercises for women so if you see anything that states otherwise you are reading bad information. That is the most valuable free exercise tip for women.
What is Aerobic Exercise?
To understand the free exercise tips for aerobic exercise you should know exactly what aerobic exercise is.
Aerobic exercise is synonymous with cardio and means exercise in the presence of oxygen.
You can think of aerobic exercise as any types of exercises where you are moving your body through space using your large muscle groups for 90 seconds and longer.
Important Aerobic Exercise Tips:
- Know your Intensity
Many people waste their time away doing pointless cardio sessions in the gym because they are not exercising with adequate intensity.
Simply knowing your intensity is very important for making progress both in being more efficient at your chosen activity and changing your body composition.
You can gauge your intensity best by tracking your heart rate through your aerobic exercise sessions.
If you are not able to track your heart rate, you can use the level of difficulty on the cardio machine to establish where you are at the current workout and where you will advance for the next workout.
By knowing your aerobic workout intensity you can avoid making the mistake outlined in the next free exercise tips.
- Do NOT Work out Too Long
You now know insufficient intensity is the #1 reason why people do not get their desired results in the exercise program. This means if you are on the cardio machine for 1.5 hours and you you are not training for a long distance event, you are working out for too long.
Working out for too long negatively stress your body and cause excessive muscle breakdown and actually slow your metabolism down.
Make sure you work out with a known intensity for a set amount of time. Do not let your workouts go on until you get bored or run out of time. Pick a workout intensity, complete it, and look to improve every so often.
- Change your Mode of Activity: Cross Train
All kinds of aerobic exercise are good for your body but there is always an exception. Aerobic exercises are usually repetitive motions and any time your body does the same motion over and over again it is subject to overuse injuries due to different stresses from aerobic activity.
What to do? Periodically change your exercise intensity and most importantly type of cardio exercise. Used to riding the stationary bike indoors? Why not run the stadium steps for a week? Periodically change your exercise mode, or perform workouts consisting of different modes, i.e. 10 minutes jump rope, 10 minutes elliptical, 10 minutes on the Stairmaster.
Cross training will allow your body to constantly get results by changing the stress of exercise which will avoid plateau and keep the results coming.
What is Resistance Training?
You can think of resistance training as weight training if you are using dumbbells, barbells or cable machines.
Any short duration activities which usually isolate a specific muscle group for less than 90 seconds is resistance training whether your resistance is weights, your body weight, resistance bands, etc.
Important Resistance Training Free Exercise Tips:
- Full Range of Motion
This is most important if you are new to resistance training but is important for everybody who lifts weights. Range of motion is how far the weight can be moved with proper form for the specific exercise.
You should perform exercises through the full range of motion if you want to get the most benefits of weight training. First of all, full range of motion equals the most work for the muscle group for each rep and set. Secondly if you perform exercises through partial ranges of motion you are likely going to develop a weakness in part of the full range of motion.
What this means is you will be strong at part of each exercise and weak at others, which will decrease the overall functionality of your body and possibly lead to muscle imbalance and increase the chance of injury.
- Succeed with Failure
This may be the most important free exercise tip you will ever read. Weight training is all about intensity. The basic principle which applies to all forms of exercise is progressive overload. Simply put, progressive overload means you must progress any exercise to overload your body in order for the exercise to have any effects.
This is where failure comes in. Without performing a set to failure, you will not be able to progressively overload your body because you will not know where your limit is. This does not mean you have to perform 1 rep max sets on every exercise, but you must perform at least 1 set of any exercise to failure within the rep range you are going for.
- Vary your Workout Routine
It is good to have a routine. It is bad to stick to your routine forever. Many people have workout routines which include the same exercises with the same weights and same reps for long periods of time.
Keeping the same workout routine for too long is bad because your body adapts rapidly and will plateau (exhaustion on the General Adaptation Syndrome chart on right).
You can delay or simply avoid the plateau or exhaustion phase by listening to your body.
Once your body begins to completely adapt to your workout routine (middle to end of green resistance phase on chart on the right) you must take a break of up to a week from your structured exercise.
When you change your workouts again you will re-enter the alarm phase and have more potential for gains during the resistance phase and that is the power of varying your workout routine to get the most benefits from weight training.
What is Flexibility?
Flexibility is how far your joints can move through different ranges of motion and how much your muscles can stretch.
Free Exercise Tips for Flexibility:
- Perform your Stretching After your Warm-up or Exercise
If your goals are to maintain or increase your flexibility levels is it crucial to perform a general warm up before you do your stretches. A general warm up is any cardiovascular activity for 5-10 minutes.
General warm-up is very important to flexibility because when you are at rest the majority of your body’s blood is in the core of your body being used for your vital organs and digestive track. The general warm-up circulate your blood and will allow your muscles and joints to become more lax and receptive to stretching.
- Hold Static Stretches for Longer than 30 Seconds
If you want the time you spend stretching to be effective you must realize that 30 seconds is the minimum amount of time which it takes for the muscle to relax.
This is because your muscles have receptors called golgi tendon organs and muscle spindles which are sensitive to muscle length and tension respectively. It takes about 30 seconds for these receptors to relax to allow the muscle to lengthen fully. Perform your static stretches for at least 30-45 seconds.
Learn & Perform SMFR
SMFR or Self Myofascial release is a form of self massage on a foam roller which helps reduce muscle tightness. Other benefits of SMFR are increasing blood flow and increasing range of motion.
What is Muscle Building?
You do not have to want to be a huge bodybuilder to be interested in muscle building. Building muscle can help you tone your body because muscle takes up less space than fat and increases metabolism.
Free Exercise Tips for Building Muscle:
- Heavy Weights are NOT Best for Building Muscle
Building muscle is a matter of consuming a surplus of calories while you primarily perform high volume workouts. High volume workouts consist mostly of sets of 10-15 reps per set which is consistent with a hypertrophy phase of periodization.
Heavier weights (closer to your 1RM) are great for building maximal strength, but for building muscle, heavy weights take a back seat to moderate weights and high reps which are needed for high volume workouts.
This is not to say you should not lift heavy weights. You should just primarily focus on higher volume workouts. If you are looking to build muscle the majority of your training should be in the hypertrophy phase of periodization.
Weight Loss versus Fat Loss
You should know that your weight can naturally fluctuate 5-10 pounds every day. Do not confuse this shift in water weight with fat loss. Fat loss occurs slowly over time with a dietary caloric deficit helped by exercise.
Free Exercise Tips for Weight Loss:
- High Intensity Cardio is Better for Fat Loss
Many people falsely believe that low intensity cardio exercise burns fat while high intensity cardio exercises the heart. This is not true and is one of the big reasons why many people find it hard to get results with their cardio exercise.
High intensity cardio burns more calories during the exercise as well as after increasing your metabolism in the hours after your exercise session. Pick an intensity level and time on your favorite cardio machine, defeat it and next time try a harder one. This progression of high intensity exercise will allow you to get the best results in the shortest amount of time.
- Weight Training is Great for Weight Loss
You may think that weight training is only good for building muscles but you could not be further from the truth. Weight training is essential for maintaining your lean body mass which keeps your metabolism burning an optimal amount of calories.
Whether you are looking to lose 10, 50 or 100+ pounds, there should always be a spot in your fitness program for weight training. This is not to say that a person trying to lose 100 pounds will have the same weight training program as someone looking to lose 5 but weight training should always be included to the complete workout program which stresses the 5 components of physical fitness.
- Light Weights and High Reps does NOT Tone
If your read the previous free exercise tip you know that exercises with moderate weights in the higher rep range (10-15) are best for building muscle.
Putting 2 and 2 together you should be able to figure out that high reps 15+ and super light weights (like you see in every fitness magazine) is not the best way to “tone.”
Toning can be looked at two ways. It can be looked at like spot reduction (i.e. do crunches to burn fat off the stomach) which is a myth or the simultaneous loss of fat and gain of muscle which is possible albeit difficult for most.
In order to “tone” it is very important to have a complete exercise program which includes a variety of exercises with a variety of intensities (heavy and light weights) and most importantly a proper diet.
- Stop Doing Crunches if you want to Lose Belly Fat
Go to any gym in the world and you will see hundreds overweight people doing crunches. What do all these people have in common? They are all most likely wasting their time.
The myth of spot reduction dominates the fitness world. If you don’t want to fall victim to this fitness myth and waste your time in the gym, stop doing sit-ups and crunches if you want to lose your belly flab and start dedicating your energy to fat burning cardiovascular exercise.
Yes, running, hiking, stair climbing, bicycling etc. are all 100x more effective for burning fat off your stomach than sit-ups, crunches, core exercises or any other form of abdominal exercises. Free exercise tips about six pack abs.
Is Training Different for Every Sport?
All exercise for sports must be sports specific if there is going to be maximal benefit. If you wanted to be a better baseball player and you spent all day playing soccer your baseball skills would not improve.
Free Exercise Tip for Athletic Performance:
- Always be Sport Specific
As a young or experienced athlete you are by nature competitive. You see people doing certain exercises and you think you can do better. This can often hurt your athletic performance and should be avoided.
The point is, everything you do in the weight room, on the field or in the training room should be focused on your activity. This means performing 10 sets of biceps curls in the gym is not only wasting your time, but could be hurting your performance in your sport.
Focus on your sport specific exercises and spend the rest of your time eating properly, resting and preparing mentally for your next competition and you will be better athlete and have less chance of injury.
Free Exercise Tips will Help you have the Perfect Exercise Program
- Ask The Fitness Trainer Q&A – If you enjoyed this page of free exercise tips but you have further questions you can ask the trainer and learn more about fitness and exercise. You can also get tons of free exercise tips in the Personal Trainers Forums
- Best Aerobic Exercise
- Best Cardio Machines – You can get best out of any cardio machines with the new knowledge you have learned on the Free Exercise Tips page. Learn more exercise tips on losing weight that will help you operate the cardio machines properly to get maximum cardiovascular and fat loss.
- Understanding Body Fat – Since the free exercise tips include lowering your body fat you should become familiar with everyone’s worst enemy.