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Signs of a Good Workout Routine

Ever wonder whether your workout plan is solid? Use these dos and don’ts to gauge whether your exercise routine is helping—or hurting—you.

By Caralee Adams

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hand weight iconIt feels great to get moving and get into the exercise groove. But do you ever wonder if you’re on the right track? Here, fitness experts offer advice on workout routines and common mistakes.

6 Signs of a Good Workout Routine

You Have Balance
A solid fitness routine is a mix of cardiovascular exercise (running, biking, swimming), strength training (using resistance, weights or elastic bands), and flexibility training (yoga or Pilates). You also should cross train to avoid injury and burnout.

You See Results
Exercise should first make you feel more energetic, says Susie Supper, assistant manager and education director of the National Exercise Trainers Association.  As you get in shape, your resting heart rate will lower.  If weight loss if your goal, you may notice that your clothes are looser or that you are dropping pounds. Don’t rely only on the scale and the mirror to measure your success. As you become fit, your body will be improving on the inside in ways you can’t see.

You Are Progressing 
Over time, you should be increasing the amount of weight you lift, the intensity of your aerobic activity, and the flexibility of your body. There will be setbacks, but a challenging routine should progress and leave your body feeling like it has had a good workout, says Brad Schoenfeld, author of Sculpting Her Body Perfect (Human Kinetics Publication, 3rd edition, 2007). “If you are not sore, chances are you are not doing it right or varying your exercises enough,” he says.

You Warm Up and Cool Down
Rather than dive right into your workout, ease into activity at a lower intensity. “If you are about to run, warm up by walking. If you are going to cycle, start at a slower pace,” says Jonathan Ross, the American Council on Exercise’s 2006 Trainer of the Year. After you exercise, your body is at its peak warmth, and muscles are more pliable. This is when you benefit from stretching. Try to hold stretches for 30-60 seconds.

You Accept Exercise as Part of your Lifestyle
You are on track “if you are committed, know what to do, and you are excited to work out,” Supper says. “When you dread it, something is wrong.” Exercise should be naturally integrated into your routine. While the workout itself may be difficult, you should look forward to how it makes you feel afterward, Ross says.

You Sleep Well at Night
Being able to get a good, uninterrupted night’s sleep is a sign that your fitness routine is working for you, says fitness consultant Mikki Johnson of Minneapolis. “Sleep is where we heal our muscles and fight off disease,” she says. Try to get in seven hours of shut-eye a night.

Continued on Page 2: Signs of a Bad Workout Routine

 

 

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