Three Simple Rules to Get a Great Workout without Hurting Yourself

Knowing what to do and why could keep you out of the cardiologists and the orthopedics offices.

  1. Work your whole body evenly. That goes for cardio as well as strength work. Your back, legs, chest, arms, shoulders, core and gluteus muscles should all be used for as many minutes of the workout as possible to maximize calorie burn, stamina building and to balance out strength and range of motion around all the major joints. It’s also by far the most efficient use of your time. Great examples include swimming, rock climbing, rowing machine, elliptical trainer and full-body strength training. There are also dozens (with variations in the hundreds) of body-weight exercises including yoga and Pilates that also qualify.
  2. Minimize impact and sudden pressure on the joints. While some lateral stress and impact can strengthen joints and connective tissue, too much, especially with a pre-existing injury or a weakness from strength or range of motion imbalances can be an injury just waiting to happen.
  3. Shorten cardio bouts as you increase difficulty. Except for a select few seniors or those medically prohibited to do so because of medical conditions, most people should work toward shorter, harder aerobic workout sessions, and away from longer, less difficult sessions. Why? Because doing that allows you to reach and sustain levels of performance you wouldn’t be able to match going half as hard for twice as long, so you push performance peaks and maximize the benefits. You also burn more calories for longer afterward.

That’s why I recommend mostly lower impact, high-intensity activities that incorporate more than one muscle group at the same time and spread the workload out evenly over a circuit. But pristine quality execution is the key to pushing the intensity limits while keeping the risk of injury extremely low.

Look at the exercises performed from the 21 – 25 second marks of this video and you’ll see several examples of what I’m talking about.

The body wants to be challenged, not roughed up or beaten down; empowered, not incapacitated.

Does your fitness program do that?


Dan is a nationally certified personal fitness trainer and former continuing education faculty member of the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise. He is the owner and head trainer at Tri Valley Trainer in Pleasanton, which provides personal training, small group fitness and nutrition guidance. He can be reached at Dan@TriValleyTrainer.com


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