2012 Workout Tips for Gals & Guys…STARTING NOW!

Posted on Dec 1, 2011 in Food and Fitness | 69 comments

I owe a big apology to the men out there! My last post on FOOD was directed toward women, yet three MEN commented and/or inquired how to alter their diet to achieve their fitness goals. Please forgive me! From now on be assured I will write to both sexes.

With the “season of eating” upon us and New Year’s Resolutions right around the corner, I see no reason not to focus on working out NOW…whenever you are reading this, “now” means TODAY! Similar to my recent “Top Ten Jewels (not Rules) for Healthy Eating,” I pray you find these workout tips practical and meaningful, no matter your age or stage in fitness. Having intensively trained for events ranging from figure competitions to an Ironman 70.3, and having worked out typically six days a week for the last five years, I will do my best to give you twelve workout tips that challenge and strengthen your entire being…heart, mind, body, and soul. Let’s go…

1.) VARY your workouts constantly! Not only is “variety the spice of life,” but your muscles are smart…they know if they’re always doing the same thing. I once heard a lady bragging that she did 100 sit-ups every day, and I felt so sad for her abs! When muscles do the same thing all the time, they no longer need to work. Instead, have as your continual goal to shock your muscles with something new…this will keep them “alive” and growing —and burning fat which helps reveal their shape.

2.) Similarly, always be progressing in some way, whether in the amount of weight you lift, repetitions you do, the time it takes to complete something, the speed of your run on a treadmill, etc. You are most likely capable of MUCH more than you think you are, so every now and then increase your challenge…five more push-ups, five more pounds, five more minutes. You’ll be so excited to see what you’ve accomplished! And then increase some more… 🙂

3.) With each specific exercise, THINK ABOUT the muscle you are working. For example, while doing a bicep curl, think about your bicep. This may sound obvious, but it is very easy for our minds to wander while working out; instead, CONSCIOUSLY focus on the muscle you are using. Within us is a very strong mind/body connection…your muscle will appreciate your brain’s assistance in helping it work and grow stronger. I know this principle to be true with regard to recovering from an injury or surgery, as well. I STILL consciously think about my left quadricep during a double leg press because if I don’t, my stronger right quad will take over and do the work for the left. I learned this the hard way and want to save you from unknowingly going down the path toward weaker muscles.

4.) Don’t forget to BREATHE! I giggle as I write that (remembering how often my first trainer had to remind me), but I mean it in all seriousness because I know how easy it is to stop breathing during strenuous strength training. I’ll let this tip segue into my recommendation to hire a personal trainer because your reminder to breathe may need to come from someone besides yourself! I cannot overemphasize the importance and value of an excellent, certified personal trainer. Yes, it will be a financial investment (and for that reason alone make SURE of your potential trainer’s credentials and personality/attitude before writing your check), but I am thankful for every dollar I’ve spent on my incredibly knowledgeable trainers who have pushed me much harder than I would have ever imagined I could go…thank you, Cody, Carla, and Jay!

5.) Ideally, I encourage strength training three days a week (for example Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and doing some form of cardiovascular exercise two or three other days of the week (such as Tuesday, Thursday, and/or Saturday). A day of rest is not only good for your mind and soul but also your heart and body.

6.) After you strength train a certain muscle group (e.g., hamstrings, shoulders, abdominals, etc.), make sure you give them at least one day of rest before working them again. Muscles actually do their “growing/building” while they are resting.

7.) Drink a protein shake before and after your workouts, preferably within a 15-minute window on both sides. I drink Dymatize Elite Whey Protein Isolate (Rich Chocolate and Cafe Mocha flavors mixed together…YUM!) which I buy at Vitamin Shoppe. You can also order online. I mix with water but you can also mix with milk. There are many brands and flavors out there…find one with a taste you love and make sure it is high in protein and low in carbohydrates and fat. Protein is SO important, especially after your workouts when your muscles are mending and building.

8.) Make working out FUN!! “Fun” will mean different things to different people, so find what defines fun for YOU. Is it working out with a friend, or a trainer? Is it being alone? Is it cross-country skiing in the snow or doing the step mill in a (warmer) gym? Is it working out in the evening, after work, or first thing in the morning? Set yourself up for success by making working out an enjoyable part of your day. Having FUN is what will keep you going back for more! Which is what we want, right? 🙂

9.) Keep a workout journal. This should not be a burden but a huge help for you in getting familiar with machines, remembering how much weight you lifted or reps you did last time, and having a place to write goals and log the achievement of them! Preferably, write down every exercise you are going to do BEFORE your workouts. (A trainer can help with this if need be.) I carried a combination workout/eating journal with me for YEARS through all my training. Instead of standing around wondering what you’re going to do next, your plan will already be made which will provide a much more efficient workout.

10.) Ideally, don’t talk and do sweat! If talking is the “fun” part for you, we need to talk. 🙂 (Although, hmmm…that plank in my own eye is starting to bother me…see Matthew 7:3-5!) Truly, this is a good reminder for me. Try to squelch the desire to talk in the gym and instead work so hard that you get hot and sweaty! Now THAT’S an awesome workout!

11.) Please, PLEASE remember that your workouts are going to have the greatest benefit to your health and physique if you maintain a clean eating lifestyle, too. Year after year I see men and women at the gym whose bodies never seem to change…how discouraging for all the time they’re investing at the gym! If you are working out AND eating clean you WILL notice the difference in your shape and how you feel. See my prior post entitled “My Top Ten Jewels (not Rules) for Healthy Eating” if you need some help in this area.

12.) Remember that every day is a new beginning! How wonderful (and necessary) is this biblical truth in my life. When we experience failure or setback in the training of our body, heart, or mind, we can KNOW “because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). In the Lord, every day is a new beginning…rejoice in that freedom.

Speaking of the Lord, did you know He EXERCISES too?! I seriously just saw this while spending time with Him this morning: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,‘ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 10:23-24). I’m thankful my God delights in His exercise, too.


  1. Thanks!!! So need all these great tips!!

    • Lori, you’re so welcome! I’m SO happy the tips help you. I hope your workouts are going REALLY well… that you’re finding your motivation and having fun. Can’t tell you how much I appreciate all your support and encouragement! Blessings on your day:)

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