A successful exercise routine should combine elements of aerobic exercise, resistance training and stretching. When exercising, it’s important to listen to your body and understand its function, and perform different workouts, and keep in mind that your body also needs time to recover properly.
Listen to your body
Whatever form of workout you are doing, make sure you find and work at your own level, no matter what anyone else is doing around you.
Some rules of thumb are the following:
- never force a movement or position;
- slow down a bit if you are breathing heavily or feel overheated;
- stop if you experience any discomfort.
If a sculpting exercise appears too challenging, think about how to bring the intensity down a notch. For instance:
- do fewer reps or sets, or hold a particular position for a shorter time than advised;
- try the exercise without weights if you’re currently using weights;
- or alter your position, where appropriate, to make the movement less extreme, such as by bending your knees slightly in a forward bend.
Conversely, if an exercise doesn’t feel challenging enough, try:
- doing more reps or sets, or holding the position longer;
- including weights or increasing the size of the weights you’re using;
- or changing your position, where appropriate, to make the movement harder, such as by doing a deeper squat.
It’s best to consult a fitness expert if you’re not sure about how to adapt the level of an exercise to suit your needs.
Vary your workouts
People usually follow the same fitness routine week-in, week-out because it’s what they know and within their comfort zone. But this is rarely the most effective approach. It’s important to add variety to your exercise program—not just to keep you from getting bored and giving up on it, but also to make sure that you challenge yourself in different ways.
Otherwise, your body will quickly adapt to the physiological demands of a repetitive workout and you’ll no longer see results—a phenomenon often called reaching a ‘plateau.’ Varying your exercises also reduces the chance of over-use injury.
Recognize the importance of recovery
It’s important to get enough sleep every night to give your body time to recover from day-to-day demands, so experiment to find how much is optimal for you. Getting less rest than needed can lead to reduced concentration, slower reaction time, a feeling of sluggishness, and an inability to cope with stress.
Enough sleep, on the other hand, will leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready for anything. You also have to leave rest days between sculpting workouts to give your body time to recover and get ready for further progress.