The Best Exercise Advice I Ever Received

Exercising at the gym

A man exercising | Source: iStock

From lack of motivation to imperfect form, most people will face some sort of challenge, at one point in their lives, when it comes to exercise. With so many different schools of thought, deciding which fitness trends to follow can be a workout in and of itself. We sought out expert advice from industry professionals, and here’s what they told us about the best exercise advice they have ever received.

1. Set a goal

Have a goal. Assess and reassess. Adjust and readjust. First off, we all need a goal or objective when it comes to fitness and exercise, otherwise we end up wandering aimlessly and are significantly more likely to become complacent and quit. Assessments and reassessments are the method in which we measure our progress towards the goal. It’s one thing to have a goal, but regular assessment keeps us honest and focused on the goal. Adjustments are sometimes necessary. Things happen all of the time and it’s important that our goals have some level of plasticity. If we need to modify our goals, it’s fine, as long as we remain focused on the new goal.

Ryan George, fitness professional and host of the GymWits Podcast

2. Engage your core

Some of the best exercise advice involves engaging your core

Some of the best exercise advice involves engaging your core | Source: iStock

I remember when I first started doing fitness, I was told to always engage my abs even while focusing on or isolating other muscles. It made me think a lot about the way people move when they exercise. Having strong core strength prevents injury and gives us so much more freedom and strength in our movements. In my own Body Conceptions method, integrating everything with the core has become a central part of everything we do. And I can thank that great advice for planting the seeds to make that happen!

Mahri Relin, fitness expert and trainer, founder and creator of popular NYC-based fitness method Body Conceptions

3. Personalize your workout style

stadium stairs, workout, chairs

A man preparing to workout | Source: iStock

The best fitness advice I’ve received is ‘It depends,’ from Dr. Stuart McGill.

This seems almost like a non-answer, but, in trying to sift through the over-abundance of information out there on the internet, this can be one of the best mindsets to have to start to filter information effectively.

Almost everything out there on blogs, forums, websites, and magazines is there because it worked for someone at some point. However, there is massive variation in individuals based upon their training age, their genetic potential, and what their goals are. Just because something worked for an Olympian doesn’t mean that someone getting into training for the first time should be doing it. A basketball player shouldn’t train like a Navy SEAL.

Understanding that ‘it depends’ enables a coach or an athlete to try to filter information with the goal of figuring out what will work for a specific person in a specific situation.

Todd Nief, owner and director of training at South Loop Strength & Conditioning – The Home of South Loop CrossFit in downtown Chicago

4. Bulging biceps are good, but a healthy heart is better

bicep curls

Working out | Source: iStock

The best fitness advice that I’ve ever received was from a college professor of mine while at Elon. He said, ‘People don’t die from weak biceps, they die from weak hearts and lungs.’ That has resonated with me since then. What he meant was the importance of exercising your heart and pulmonary muscles. Yes, having nice looking, developed bicep muscles can be beneficial, but not at the expense of having a weak heart and lungs. So, cardiorespiratory training is just as important as resistance training.

Maurice D. Williams, MS, CSCS, NASM-Master Trainer, PES, CES, WLS, SFS, FNS, CPTOwner, Move Well Fitness, LLC in Bethesda, Md.

5. Rest your body


Sleeping | Source: iStock

The best workout advice I have ever received is to rest my body! Sometimes we believe that we have to work out every day just to achieve our fitness goals; however, that is not the case. We need to let our bodies rest to have enough energy and strength to be even better for the next workout.

John Cantu, head trainer at Orange Theory Fitness

6. Spend your time wisely, because we become best at the things we do the most

weight lifting, exercise

Exercising | Source: iStock

The best exercise (and lifestyle) advice I ever got is that your body will always adapt to its conditions, based on a little-known scientific principle called Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand. Essentially, we get good at the things we do most often. If we lift weights frequently, we grow stronger muscles. If we sit in a chair the remaining 23 hours a day, we’ll be chair-shaped (tight hip flexors, hunched posture, and so on). Like it or not, our bodies reflect our choices and behaviors. This little principle is responsible for all of our gains, and all of our aches and pains. We’d better pay attention to it.

Chandler Stevens, “The No-Pain Trainer”

7. Make exercise a habit


Lifting weights | Source: iStock

There’s no such thing as motivation. There is only routine. Discipline and routines are reliable, whereas motivation is short-lived. Thinking about going to the gym consumes zero calories. Don’t overthink things!

James Butler, Fitness Expert at Protein Hunter

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