Fitness Tips to Act on Today
The votes are in, science is boring. Fitness tips are in!
Most people don’t care about the fact that gluconeogenesis can occur from excessive protein intake or the role of AMP kinase in cellular energy pathways. You just want to know the practical application and how it can make you jacked, shredded, or strong.
So, rather than bore you with scientific theories or hypothetical discussions regarding human physiology and the influence on performance, here are 8 simple fitness tips which you can implement today.
In fact, you should probably go lift as soon as you read this article. Just sayin’.
Fitness Tips To Improve Your Workout
#1 Utilize Progressions
Not everyone will be able to back squat or conventional deadlift from the floor the first day they walk into a gym – people need to recognize and accept this fact. There are no mandatory exercises, it’s more a question of what can your body handle and adapt to given your current stage of physical fitness and bony anthropometry?
Exercise progressions are in place because they allow you to work through developmental positions as your central nervous system learns to control new ranges of motion and deceleration forces while improving motor unit synchronization.
For example, if you want to progress to the point of being able to perform a pistol squat, then you need to begin by building a half kneeling pattern. Your progression might look similar to something along these lines:
- Split Squat
- Step Up
- Reverse Lunge
- Bulgarian/Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
- Lateral Lunge
- Walking Lunge
- Single Leg Squat to a Bench
- Single Leg Squat Off a Bench
- Pistol Squat
#2 Shrug Slightly During Farmers Walks
The lack of loaded carries in your programming is probably the reason your traps haven’t grown since you were 12 years old.
But in all seriousness, loaded carries are fantastic for a whole variety of factors: reflexive core control during gait, training scapular upward rotation, and enhancing cross body locomotion patterns under load.
However, many people simply use too much load and as such they’re pulled into excessive scapular depression when you actually want to train the opposite (i.e. upward rotation).
The fix? Use a weight that you can control and still allows you to maintain an “active” shoulder position by shrugging slightly and providing the shoulder girdle with a little space despite the weight in your hands.
#3 Learn To Live Without the Scale
Are you one of those people who wake up every morning and anxiously hops on the scale hopping to feel intrinsically satisfied by the subjective number that’s displayed?
Living by the scale is a pretty awful way to live. The entire course of your day is determine by a transient number that can be influenced by water intake, carbohydrate tolerance, stress, hormonal regulation, or a whole variety of other factors.
That being said, challenge yourself to learn how to break free of the scale. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life waking up to only be disappointed by an unrealistic expectation you’ve set for yourself?
#4 Double Your Protein and Veggies While Halving Your Starches
This is pretty simple, you like simple, right?
Complexity breeds a lack of adherence and that’s the last thing you need when it comes to meeting your fitness goals.
Use your hand as a measuring implement for each meal – incorporate 2 palms of protein, 2 handfuls of vegetables, 1 handful or fruit, 2 thumbs of fat, and 1 handful of starchy carbs (if you’re a fairly active person with a fitness oriented lifestyle). If you’re a female you can simply halve those numbers for a starting point.
No need to use a food scale or calculator to figure out your macros, simplify your life one step at a time in order to promote longevity.
#5 Fundamentals Before Supplementals
You’re probably taking more supplements than you need.
Reread that last sentence. Alright good, just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page.
Let’s get one thing straight, you haven’t “mastered” your nutrition until you understand how to compose a healthy diet which allows you to reach your goals while simultaneously living a sustainable lifestyle.
In all honesty, supplements likely only account for 5-6% of your body composition results. Remember, it’s not about getting fancy; it’s about a relentless application of the basics until you become a master in the most mundane things.
#6 Push Through the Whole Foot
Too many people have gotten married to the idea that you should have all of your weight centered over your heels during certain movements.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t ever focus on pushing slightly more through the heels but let’s get one thing clear: a tripod foot is the most biomechanically stable position for the lower limbs.
You should be focused on finding and feeling your big toe, pinky toe, and heel prior to any lift. Once you’ve establish all 3 points of contact, you should seek to push evenly through the midpoint of your foot.
If you try to keep all of the weight behind your center of gravity (i.e. on your heels), you’ll have a tough time activating your quads and maintaining that tripod foot discussed above.
#7 Sync Your Music With Your Mood
Music is an incredibly fascinating experience in and of itself. Have you ever noticed how a simple song or noise can take you back to a certain time and place?
If you have a typical gym playlist, crank it up the next time you’re driving around in the car and watch what happens. Did you notice your heart rate and blood pressure increase as your breathing became shallow and your palms got slightly sweaty? Say hello to your sympathetic nervous system.
Your body remembers sights, sounds, smells, and even textures when it comes to learned responses. Music has the ability to dramatically improve your lifting and sport specific performance if you used correctly.[1,2]
Dial in the tunes and watch your numbers climb.
#8 Applied Science: The Secrets to Swole
The biggest guys in the gym don’t always have all the answers or perfect fitness tips, that’s why this field is called exercise science.
Don’t allow someone’s physique to dissuade you from the validity of their content, some of the best minds in this industry aren’t the largest or the strongest lifters but yet they’re incredibly well respected.
Once you figure out the why for the what, you’ll be able to apply science to your training and make the best gains possible.
Mike Wines is a strength and conditioning coach and content editor for Muscle and Strength. He graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor’s of Science in Exercise Science. During his undergraduate career, he interned with EXOS (formerly Athlete’s Performance), USC’s strength and conditioning staff, and Athlete’s Arena. Mike has trained a wide variety of athletes and clients and seeks to provide programming and movement based solutions to match each individual’s goals. Outside of the weight room, Mike is known for his strong work ethic, attention to detail, and passionate attitude. In all things in life, he seeks to live out his motto: “Excellence, not perfection."