Barbell Versus Dumbbell Training

If you’ve decided to get started with a strength training program, you might be wondering whether you should be focusing on barbells or dumbbells – or possibly something else altogether.

While you can use weight machines, realize that these won’t be as powerful as free weights are when it comes to improving your conditioning level. Free weights recruit more total core muscles and will also be more natural for your body as they don’t lock you into a fixed range of movement like machine weights do.

That said, between barbells and dumbbells, which wins out?

Let’s give you a quick run-down so that you can figure out which piece of equipment you should be using.

Crossfit-Day-PassCore Recruitment

The first thing to think about is the level of core recruitment you’ll experience. We already noted that free weights do work the core more, which is a great thing, but is one superior?

The answer is yes. Dumbbells will typically be slightly superior when it comes to building strong core muscles compared to barbells for the simple fact that you won’t be as balanced as you perform the exercise.

The less balanced you are, the harder your core is going to have to work. This will be especially the case if you perform single limb dumbbell based moves such as single leg split squats, single leg squats, or single arm shoulder presses.

Max Strength Development

The next factor to take into account is your strength development. Is one superior here?

As it turns out, most likely. Most people will find they can lift more with a barbell for the opposite reason the core is worked less. Because there is less of a stabilization requirement when using a barbell, more of your strength and focus can go into hoisting up the weight.

So if max strength gains are your goal, opt for barbell training more frequently.

Range Of Exercise Selection

The last thing that you need to factor in when making your selection is the range of movements that you can do.

Here, dumbbells win out. There are exercises you can perform with dumbbells that you simply cannot perform with barbells.

For instance, the chest fly or lateral raise. By adding dumbbells into the mix, you can ensure that you hit your muscles from all angles.

So there you have a few of the main points of consideration when selecting which type of equipment to get into your workout program. Always remember that it doesn’t necessarily have to be one or the other however.

In an ideal world, you would use both types of equipment as you move through your plan. This way, you get the best of both worlds.

Want a complete workout program that’ll challenge your body, getting you fitter, leaner, and healthier? Check out for plenty of options.



What Are The Benefits Of Group Exercise And Fitness Classes?

As you go about your fitness journey, one thing to consider is joining a group fitness class. When you think of the ‘gym’, you might envision yourself going at it alone, running along the treadmill or using the weight machines without really knowing what you’re doing.

Clearly not an appealing idea to most people. But, when you expend your view of what your workouts can be, you might just find you get an extra dose of motivation to keep going and strive to reach those fitness goals.

Group fitness classes can bring those benefits.

Let’s take a look at what these benefits are so that you can see why you should be considering it.

142Encouraging Atmosphere

First, you’ll notice that there is a much different atmosphere in a group fitness class compared to when you’re going at it alone in the gym. People are encouraging of one another, cheering everyone on and helping push you to reach your goals.

This can make getting started into fitness far more comfortable for many beginners, while the cold gym feels very intimidating.

Meeting Like-Minded Individuals

Another great benefit of group fitness is that you’ll get to meet like-minded individuals. Those who surround themselves with others who are striving to reach the same goals they are are far more likely to stick with their program than those who don’t.

You might even find that you meet some new close friends that you start seeing outside of the fitness class itself. It’s a great way to boost your social circle with those who are leading the same lifestyle you are.

Lower Cost

Next, as far as costs go, fitness classes can’t be beat. Because a number of people will be sharing the cost of the personal trainer leading the class, you’ll pay far less per session than you would if you were doing one-on-one training.

If you’re trying to get fit on a budget, this is the route to go. You’ll still get some personalized help if you need it throughout the class and will have the instructor leading you every step of the way.

Improved Performance

Finally, don’t be surprised if you see that your performance improves significantly doing a group fitness class. If you are someone who has a slightly competitive spirit, when you’re working out with others – especially those who are slightly above your own fitness level, this will motivate you to push yourself harder, striving to reach your own personal goals.

That competitive instinct will come out in you and you’ll want to put your best foot forward to match those doing the class with you.

Making sure that you are doing a fitness class that is the right skill level for you will help ensure that you receive this benefit.

So make sure that you don’t overlook the power of group exercise fitness classes. They’re a great way to liven up any stale workout routine and help you get one step closer to reaching your goals.

Check out for some great exercise class options.

Great Greens You Must Be Eating Now

Looking to boost your health? If so, getting enough greens into your day is going to be critical to success. Leafy greens are so chalk full of vitamins and minerals that they’re practically a multi-vitamin in each serving.

This said, not all greens are created equally. Some stand out as nutritional superstars, while others do provide some nourishment, but are nothing to get too excited about.

Let’s go over a few of the top picks for ultimate nutrition and what they provide.

99Swiss Chard

Fist you have Swiss chard. Often overlooked, this bitter green provides over 700% of your total daily vitamin K intake and will help optimize bone health as well. It’s also rich in vitamin A and will act as a powerful antioxidant to combat free radical damage.


Another great green, kale is not to be missed. Kale is high in a number of different nutrients including vitamin K, vitamin A, iron, and calcium. If you aren’t eating much red meat in your diet plan, kale is a great way to get the much needed iron you need in.

Iron is important for keeping energy levels high as you go about your workout programs, so key for those leading the active lifestyle.

Collard Greens

Collard greens are another perfect leafy green vegetable to take in when trying to improve your health status. This vegetable is rich in vitamin K as well, just like most greens are, however also packs in a good dose of folate as well.

That makes it especially important for those women who are trying to get pregnant as folic acid is such an important nutrient for the growth and development of a healthy baby.

Collard greens also provide a high level of sulforaphane, which help to combat cancer as well.


Finally, the last of the great greens you’ll want to be sure is in your diet plan is spinach. Spinach is nice since it can be eaten both raw or in cooked format and it’s also going to offer a powerful dose of iron as well.

In addition to iron, spinach also provides a relatively good dose of calcium as well, so if you aren’t eating much dairy in your diet plan thanks to being lactose intolerant or not having a taste for dairy based foods, spinach can fill this void.

Getting enough calcium in is important as it can help promote stronger bones and help to regulate muscular contractions as well.

Spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin A and will also provide a number of antioxidants that will help strengthen your immune system.

So there you have a closer peek into the healthiest greens available. Are you making sure that you get these in?

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Three Effective Crunch Variations To Try Today

If you want firm, flat abs, making sure that you’re performing the right mix of abdominal exercises will be important. The key thing to note when it comes to strengthening your core is that variety is a must.

The abs are very quick to adapt to any exercise you throw at them, so if you aren’t keeping things constantly changing, you’re going to hit a plateau. And, when you do, that’s when you’ll feel frustrated and might even consider tossing in the towel.

While you should be including non-crunch moves into your plan as often as you can, there are some crunch based exercises that can deliver great results. Let’s take a closer look at what these are so that you can consider incorporating them into your protocol plan.

Group of people exercisingThe Reverse Crunch

The first crunch move to try is the reverse crunch. This one is great for targeting the lower abs, so if that happens to be your problem area, one that you’ll definitely want to get into the protocol.

To do this one, you’ll simply lay flat down on the ground and then slowly pull the knees in towards the chest as far as you can go.

As you do this, try and pause in the utmost contracted position before lowering the legs back down again.

The main point while doing this move is to avoid using momentum to carry you through the exercise. If you do, you’ll quickly find that you are taking all the stress and tension off the abs, literally making the exercise useless.

Slow and steady is the approach to take.

The Bicycle Crunch

Next, you’ll also want to include a bicycle crunch in your workout protocol as well. The bicycle crunch is great for hitting the oblique muscles, so can help you firm those ‘love handles’ you may be struggling with.

To do this one, lay flat down on the ground once again and this time, bring one knee up into the chest and as you do, cross over with the upper body and aim to touch the opposing elbow to the knee.

Hold this position briefly and then relax, lowering back into position. As you do, switch sides and repeat to the other side. If you can, avoid letting either your arms or legs touch the ground until all reps are completed.

The Accordion Crunch

Finally, the last move is the accordion crunch. This one basically has you going from a completely outstretched position into a crunched position. Lay flat down on the ground with the arms overhead and legs straight. Next, bring the arms in as you start to sit up, bringing the elbows to the knees.

Move into a full crunch position, pause and then lower back down again, stretching the body out as you do.

Keep doing this movement pattern until all reps are completed.

So there you have three great new crunch variations to try during your next workout session. Using these will help ensure that you are fully challenging your muscles and seeing the strengthening and firming results you’re after.

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Improving Your Form On The Deadlift Exercise

If you’re looking to improve your lower body strength and fitness while building a better booty, one exercise that you’ll definitely want to be getting into your program plan is the stiff legged deadlift, otherwise known as the straight leg deadlift.

This move is excellent for building up strength, power, as well as for enhancing your fat burning, so as you can see, is a great exercise to include for everyone.

This said, you do need to do it correctly.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can go about improving your form when doing the deadlift exercise.

Sprint-Core TrainingKeep Your Back Straight

First, you want to aim to keep your back as straight as possible. One big mistake that many people make when doing this move is to round their back, which is literally going to place all the stress on your back joints.

Do this often enough and it won’t be long before you’re riddled with lower back pain.

Instead, keep your back straight and core tight. By squeezing your core, you should help put yourself into proper alignment.

Keep Your Head In Line With Your Spine

Next, also be sure that you keep your head in line with your spine as well. If you let your head look upwards when you’re in the lowered position for instance, this can place great strain on the neck joint.

Instead, look down when your body is down and forward when your body is moving upwards. Never look in the upwards direction however as this will be completely unnatural for the body.

Pull From The Glutes

The next tip is a mind-muscle connection tip – always focus on pulling straight up from the glute muscle as you do the exercise. If you use the glutes to power you, you’ll reduce the risk that you try and pull the weight up using your back muscles, which will without a doubt lead to major pain development.

If you think of squeezing your bum cheeks together as you do the exercise, it’ll go a long way towards ensuring you perform it properly.

Don’t Jerk The Weight Up

Finally, ensure that you never jerk the weight upwards either. Remember that this is not a race to the top. You want to use your muscular force to pull the weight up, slowly and in a very controlled movement pattern. Do this and you’ll be seeing results, rather than getting injured.

If you feel like you have to jerk the weight up, this is a very good sign you’re using too much weight, so you should back down on the weight so that you can perform the exercise properly.

Keeping these tips in mind as you do the deadlift will help ensure you use optimal form and see the great results this exercise has to offer.

Want an exercise program that uses this exercise into the plan? Check out for plenty of workout plan options.

What Are The Biggest Mistakes People Make In The Gym

When you walk into the gym each day, you’ll come across a number of people making key mistakes that may not only cost them results, but also set them up for injury as well.

By learning what these common mistakes are, you can be sure that you side-step them and continue on to complete your workout sessions injury free while seeing the best results possible.

41Mistake #1: Lack Of A Plan

When you walk into the gym, do you know exactly what you will be doing while you’re there? If not, you’re making mistake number one.

It’s a must that you have a game plan for yourself each and every workout. Just like you’d be hard-pressed to get to a new travel destination without a road map, you’ll be hard-pressed to get your fitness goals without a plan on how to get there.

Without a plan, you’ll just be going through exercises aimlessly. This is no way to see maximum success.

Mistake #2: Improper Form

The second mistake is using improper form. It is an absolute must that when you first start in the gym, you learn how to use good form on every exercise you do.

If you don’t know how to do this, ask a trainer to help you. Building poor form habits will only set you up to experience injuries down the road.

Every 3-4 months of training, also do a form check. Lighten the amount you’re lifting and check to make sure that you are using good form.

Mistake #3: Zoning Out In Front Of The TV

The next error is zoning out in front of the TV. Too many people hop onto the treadmill, bike, or elliptical, go at a sub-maximal pace and tune into whatever is playing on TV. Or worse yet, they read gossip magazines.

If you want to get the most from your workout, you have to put maximum effort in. If you can watch TV or read, you simply aren’t doing that.

Mistake #4: Not Lifting Heavy Enough

When it comes to strength training, the biggest mistake often made is not lifting heavy enough weight. This is commonly made by women who are scared of getting ‘bulky’. Rest assured, you will not get bulky any time soon. Women simply do not posses the level of testosterone to develop muscle mass quickly.

If you want to see optimal progress, you must challenge yourself enough and those five pound dumbbells are very likely not doing the job.

Mistake #5: Getting Too Social

Finally, the last error is simply getting too social. While it’s great to meet other like-minded individuals at the gym, realize that when it’s workout time, it’s time to work. Keep your focus and don’t start chatting in between sets or while at the water fountain.

If you want to talk to someone, make a plan to meet up after your workout and enjoy a post workout shake together and catch up then.

So keep these mistakes in mind. Are you guilty of committing any of them?


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Mastering The Mind-Muscle Connection: What You Need To Know

As you go about your workout program, one thing that you’ll want to be paying attention to is the mind-muscle connection that you possess.

One big mistake that far too many people make when going about their sessions is simply going through the movement with little regard to what they are actually doing.

If you hope to see results, you need to be fully invested in the session at hand. Mind-muscle connection is all about doing so.

Let’s go over what this concept is and how you can ensure that you are making good use of it in your workout program.

Cardio-StrengthWhat The Mind-Muscle Connection Means

First let’s talk about what the mind-muscle connection refers to. This concept is about making sure that with each and every rep that you take, you are really feeling the target muscle contracting.

If you do a rep of an exercise and feel like most muscles in your body are working hard, you likely aren’t achieving full mind-muscle connection.

Of course with heavy compound exercises, you will have more muscles working, with most moves, there is still one target muscle group.

For instance, let’s say you are doing a shoulder press. How well do you really feel that shoulder muscle squeezing and contracting the entire way through the movement?

Or, are you simply just focused on getting the weight up, no matter what it takes?

How To Increase Your Mind-Muscle Connection

So how do you go about ensuring you do feel that mind-muscle connection?

One tip is to reduce the weight that you’re lifting. Very often the number one reason why people miss out on this connection is because they are simply lifting too heavy of a weight. As such, other muscles that aren’t supposed to be working are coming into play as you do the exercise.

The second technique is to slow down the movement. If you are rushing through the exercise, there’s a good chance that momentum is coming into the exercise, carrying you through. Meaning, little muscle activation.

Slow down the entire process and focus on just letting that one muscle do the work. Taking a brief pause at the top of the movement can also be a great way to eliminate momentum and ensure that you are forcing the muscles to do all the work.

Finally, the last way to enhance the mind-muscle connection is to actually put your free hand on the muscle that you are aiming to work. While you won’t be able to do this with all exercises, you can do it with many and this will help you physically feel the muscle contracting with each rep you take.

So as you go about your next workout session, make sure that you are putting more emphasis on the mind-muscle connection. If you aren’t, you could be letting results slip you by.

For more information on full workout programs that you can get started on today, check out

The Best Pre-Workout Supplement You Already Have In Your Kitchen

Looking for an extra boost before you head in to do your workout session? If so, you might be looking at the many different pre-workout options available for you to use.

One search online for pre workout products – or a quick walk through your local supplement store reveals hundreds of different products, all designed to be taken right before the workout period.

But, are these products really necessary? Most do come with a pretty hefty price tag so if you’re like most, you really wonder whether or not these are absolutely essential to getting the job done.

The truth is, one of the best pre-workout supplements you could take is already located right in your kitchen at this very moment.

That supplement? Caffeine. With a very low price tag, you might want to consider putting this one to work for you.

Let’s look at the great benefits you’ll receive from adding caffeine to your protocol.

b-recent-trends-in-storytellingImproved Fat Oxidation

The first benefit of caffeine that you may not realize is the fact that it will increase the level of fat oxidation (burning) taking place in your body.

Simply by taking that caffeine, you will utilize more fatty acids as fuel during the workout session you’re about to do. Basically, expect faster fat burning as a result.

Enhanced Energy

Next, you’ll also experience a great boost to energy as well. Most people are well aware of the energizing effects of caffeine, so this one doesn’t need to be discussed in great detail.

Just note that you’ll want to take your caffeine in about 30 minutes prior to the workout session. This will ensure it hits you by the time you hit the gym, but you don’t experience a crash part-way through your workout.

Improved Mental Focus

Another great benefit of using caffeine is the increased mental focus you’ll receive as well. You’ll find you’re more determined and aggressive in the gym, ready to tackle whatever you throw at yourself with your workout program itself.

For those who feel they are mentally sluggish, caffeine can be just the remedy you need.

Staying focused while in the gym is also key for maintaining optimal mind-muscle control, which is important for experiencing the best results you can.

Increased Endurance

Finally, you’ll also notice that you experience much superior muscle endurance when using caffeine compared to when you didn’t. Whether you’re doing cardio training or resistance based training, you’ll notice that you can go harder with each session that you do before fatigue starts to kick in.

So as you can see, there are many benefits to simply using caffeine, which you can get with one cup of coffee. Save your money without having to sacrifice results. While many pre-workout products do have other ingredients that can be beneficial as well, if you’re on a budget, there’s nothing wrong with plain coffee instead.

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What’s The Best Diet For Weight Loss?

Gearing up to start a weight loss program? If you already have your workout program in check and are now wondering what you should be doing on the nutrition side of things, there’s no question that you have plenty of options.

All it takes is one walk through the bookstore or Google search of ‘diet plan’ to see that you have literally thousands of different choices.

So which will work best? Which diet should you use?

Here are a few things to consider.

Portrait Of Woman Eating Healthy Meal In KitchenSmart Diet Requirements

First you need to understand what the basic requirements of a smart and sound diet approach are. As you might have guessed, a diet that has you eating only 900 calories per day, coming strictly from liquids isn’t going to be a diet you should consider.

You want to always keep health in mind here. Sure, losing weight fast might be great, but it’s not worth sacrificing your health for. If you look great but feel miserable, trust me, you won’t enjoy your body.

So whenever evaluating any diet plan, look for three things:

1. Sufficient calorie intake – no diet should take you below 1200 calories a day for females or 1500 calories per day for males.
2. Sufficient protein – the diet should have you eating at least 0.8 grams/lb. of protein each day to prevent lean muscle tissue loss and loss of strength.
3. Food variety – the diet should also not eliminate entire food groups, but rather, encourage proper food choices from a variety of different sources.

If the diet satisfies these requirements, then you can move on to the next consideration.

Your Personal Preferences

This next consideration is your own personal preferences. As hard as it may be to believe, you do have a say in which diet is best. Let me tell you one thing, the number one factor determining success with weight loss is whether the individual sticks with their diet plan.

You can have the absolute best diet plan in the world, but if you can’t stick to it because you’re so miserable using it, you won’t be seeing results. It’s that simple.

Those who stay with their diet will almost always see better results than those who don’t.

The morale of the story? Don’t force yourself onto a diet you know you won’t enjoy. For instance, if you feel miserable two days into a low carb diet, don’t attempt yet another one.

You don’t have to go low carb to lose fat. There are plenty of higher carb diets out there that are structured in a healthy manner that will assist with weight loss as well.

Always try and find a diet that you feel you could stick with forever. The more of a ‘lifestyle change’ you make this, the better your chances of success will be.

Future Management

Finally, also try and find a plan that teaches you how to eat right in the future. If the plan you’re considering calls for a lot of ‘ready-made’ meals or snacks that you need to purchase from the diet company itself, this isn’t going to help you learn how to properly manage your weight into the future.

Once you reach your goal, unless you keep eating their food, there’s a good chance you’ll put the weight back on.

Likewise, if a diet has you spending hours in the kitchen each day cooking and you know you’d never do this for the long haul, it’s also not teaching you lifestyle habits you can maintain.

Find a diet that you will be able to stick with, even after reaching your goal body weight. This way, you can easily transition into weight maintenance and enjoy the results of your hard work.

So there you have the info you need to know about which diet is best. There’s no such thing as a ‘best’ diet, but rather, a diet that’s best for you.


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Four Great Snacks To Eat Before Bed

Think eating before bed has to mean fat gain? If you’re like many people, you subscribe to this notion that any food you eat before bed will end up right on your hips, thighs, or underarms.

And while if you do consistently eat unhealthy foods in large portions prior to going to bed, that is very likely what you will see, that isn’t always how the situation plays out.

Instead, you can fuel your body well so that you aren’t going to bed hungry while getting leaner at the same time. It all comes down to having the right snacks on hand.

Let’s go over four great options to consider before you call it a day.

50Greek Yogurt With Nuts And Berries

A great light snack to get you ready for bed is a bowl of Greek yogurt, topped with some slivered almonds or walnuts and some berries.

Greek yogurt is rich in calcium, which can help to induce sleep and will also provide a good dose of protein to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Combine that with the healthy fats from the nuts and fiber from the berries and you’re all set.

Turkey Salad

The next great snack is a light turkey salad. Combine together 3 oz. of shredded turkey meat, a quarter mashed avocado, diced celery, diced cucumber, and a tablespoon or so of dried cranberries.

Mix this together and serve. Turkey is rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which will help promote sleepiness. Additionally, it’s also going to contain a good dose of protein and the avocado will add the healthy fat – two nutrients that are a must before bed.

Oatmeal With Milk

If you need some comfort food before turning in and have had a relatively active day, you might decide to go in for some carbohydrates, choosing oatmeal with some milk. Slow burning carbohydrates can be okay before bed provided you keep your portion size small.

The good thing about this is that it will cause a release of serotonin in the body, which will induce relaxation and sleep as well.

The milk also contains more tryptophan plus added calcium and protein, making this a well-rounded pre-bed snack.

Top with some almonds, walnuts, or a few fresh berries for added flavor.

Cottage Cheese And Nut Butter

Finally, the last snack that you might consider is cottage cheese with nut butter. Cottage cheese is great because it’s a very slow digesting protein, meaning your muscles will get a steady stream of amino acids over time.

Couple this with the added nut butter, which provides the healthy fats your body needs to keep hunger at bay overnight and you’re all set.

So there you have a few smart pre-bed meal ideas. If you choose these rather than going in for some ice cream, chips, or whatever else you typically eat, you won’t have to worry about weight gain despite having this late night snack.

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How To Mentally Prepare For Your Best Workout Session Yet

Gearing up to do a workout session? Along with making sure that you’re body is all warmed up and ready to go, you also need to ensure that you’re mentally prepared for the session ahead.

When it comes to exercise and especially seeing great results, the mental preparation is half the battle. You need to be mentally driven, ready to push yourself to the limit so that you can push the barrier and bring about the results that you desire.

Remember, if you simply put in the same amount of effort, doing the same workout routine over again, you are going to begin looking and feeling the same each time. You need to create change in your sessions, which means going that extra mile.

But, what can you do to ensure that you’re as mentally prepared to push yourself as possible?

Let’s look at a few key steps to know and remember when it comes to being mentally prepared.

Energy MeditationRead Over Your Goal List

First, take a look over the goal list that you’ve created earlier. Reading over this can bring back your original inspiration for starting your fitness journey, giving you the motive to push harder during this session.

It’s all too easy to let these goals slip from our mind, simply ‘getting through’ each workout. Start focusing on making each workout count.

Watch Inspirational Videos

Next, you’ll also want to consider watching a few inspirational videos. This could be a basic motivational type of video or simply of your favorite fitness celebrity workout out and looking great.

Watching them – and their amazing body go through the session can give you inspiration to push yourself that little bit harder, capturing better results.

Most people are very visually motivated, so this can really go a long way towards helping you bring about optimal success.

Set A Workout Goal

Another quick and simple tip to help spark greater mental motivation is to set one specific workout goal for that session. This could be to do an extra rep on your squat exercise, to reduce your rest periods five seconds between sets, or otherwise.

Giving your session that new purpose – something that you should achieve that session is a great way to ensure that you stay the course.

Consider A New Workout Session Entirely

Finally, you might also want to consider trying a new workout session entirely. If you’ve been doing the same type of workout program for a while, consider mixing it up.

Find a new workout – a new challenge – to put your body through. This can really wake up your muscles, shock your body, and get you seeing faster results. Not to mention, it’ll also combat mental boredom when it comes to your fitness plan.

So there you have the many ways that you can ensure you head into your workout session feeling as mentally motivated as possible. Are you doing everything you could to bring about optimal success?

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Which Should I Do First – Cardio Or Weights?

As you set up your workout program, one question that you may find yourself asking is which type of exercise you should do first. Cardio or weight training?

You know that both components will help make a balanced workout program, but just aren’t quite sure how to structure the program itself.

In 90% of cases, it’s superior to do weight lifting before cardio training. Let’s talk about why this is.

4Why Weights First?

Weight lifting should be completed at the start of the session for a few different reasons. First, it’s going to be the exercise that relies most heavily on glucose as a fuel source, so if you were to do your cardio training first, you may deplete this necessary glucose, making it harder to perform weight lifting at the proper intensity level. That would then lead to lack of results. Most forms of cardio training can utilize fat as a fuel source, so performing it second will actually enhance your rate of fat burning (since there will be no glucose available by that point).

Second, weight lifting is also going to require more balance and agility. Therefore, it’s important to do it at the start when you are feeling mentally fresh and focused. Do it later on in the workout and you could be putting yourself at a higher risk of injury.

Finally, weight lifting should come first simply because it’s the most beneficial form of exercise that you can do. If you only have time to do one or the other – weight lifting should be it.

Couldn’t You Just Do Cardio?

Which brings us to the next point – why can’t you just do cardio? The reason no workout routine should only include cardio training is because while cardio certainly will help make your heart stronger, it’s going to do very little to boost the strength of your muscles.

And, as you get older, if you are not strengthening your muscles, you will begin to lose strength and soon, everyday activities that you used to enjoy will feel that much more challenging.

By adding strength training, you will not only be improving the look of your body faster (as you’ll be adding more muscle definition and athletic curves), but you’ll also be increasing your quality of life well into your golden years as well.

The Rare Case Of Cardio First

Now, as mentioned, 90% of the time you should do weights first. What 10% of situations would require cardio is performed first?

If you were training for some sort of cardio focused event – such as a half or full marathon for instance, you would likely put cardio first in the session. Since your main goal is to improve your cardio performance, by doing it first, you will have your best chances of seeing performance improvement.

If you were already tired from weight lifting, this could mean a lower performance, thus progress would suffer.

So in this case, cardio first is the smarter plan.

So there you have the key facts to know about which type of exercise to do first. Another great way to get around this is to make use of a fitness class that combines both cardio and strength training in one. This way you get the best of both worlds in a single, time efficient workout session.

Do that and you’ll be seeing great results in no time.


Want a complet workout program that includes both strength and cardio work? Check out for more info.

Top 3 Exercises to Blast Belly Fat

With beach season approaching fast, many of you are wondering how you can get rid of those last few pounds of stubborn belly fat. You’ve been working hard all year and you want to show it off. Having a trim tummy as a women or a ripped midsection as a guy is more than just eye candy. It is also a sign of good health. Let’s review the top health benefits that come along with having a shredded core along with the top exercises to help you achieve it.


Maybe you want defined abs to attract some attention your way but you’ll also be providing yourself with a safeguard against strain and accidents. All movement originates from your core. Whether you are bending down to pick something up or standing tall at the gym, a well-developed midsection acts as a support structure for your body. Those who neglect to engage their cores via exercise are often treated for lower back injuries. The common expression “I threw my back out” is typically a result of not exercising the core musculature.

Another great reason to work for a flat midsection is heart health. For most people, the flatter your tummy is, the better your heart health. Deposits of adipose tissue are often a good predictor of blood pressure and overall heart health. A study published in Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira demonstrated the correlation between the fatty deposits around the stomach and the high risk of cardiovascular diseases.



  • Bring yourself to the top of a pushup with your forearms on the ground. Your elbows will be under your shoulders.
  • Knees are lifted and toes are pointed into the ground.
  • Keep your gaze neutral with your head in line with the spine.
  • Engage the core and glutes for support. Your body will form a straight line from head to feet.
  • Regression: Simply lower your knees to the floor while keeping the upper body engaged.

Side Dips

  • Lie face down on a comfortable surface.
  • Place your arms in front of you with elbows on the ground at shoulder height. Do not place your elbows ahead of the shoulders.
  • Point your toes to the ground with the heels up.
  • Engage your core and the lower back muscles simultaneously to shift the weight of the upper body into a push-up position while on the elbows.
  • Twist to the left, transferring all of your weight to your left forearm.
  • Keep your feet stacked as you dip your hips toward the ground.
  • Pause, feel the contraction in your obliques then slowly raise back up.
  • Once finished, repeat on the other side.
  • Regression: Simply lower your knees to the floor while keeping the upper body engaged.

Seated Vacuum

  • Sit down comfortably with your back straight and your chest up.
  • Inhale slowly, focusing on filling yourself with breath from the bottom of your stomach to your chest.
  • Exhale slowly. Simultaneously, contract and pull your abs in towards your spine. Picture your navel moving in to touch the spine.
  • Continue exhaling and pulling the navel in.
  • Beginners: Start out with 10 to 20 seconds of exhaling per set. Gradually build up your tolerance.
  • Advanced: Try to go for 45 to 60 seconds each set.


If you want to have fun while you get that sculpted six-pack, then consider joining a local fitness class. Fitness classes offer the instruction of professionals who can ensure each movement you perform is correct and safe. They can also regress or progress exercises to make it easier or challenging.

Open Fitness offers several different types of group classes such as Yoga, Cardio, Dance, Pilates and Boot Camp. Visit to check out the complete list of classes.


How To Gain Lean Muscle Safely

While many people are currently looking for the fastest and greatest way to lose body fat, you might be looking at how you can actually gain weight instead. You don’t just want to gain weight however – you want the weight to be lean muscle mass, which will fill out your frame, adding curves in all the right places.

If you have the right diet and training program in line, you can definitely see increased muscle gain, and reach your dream body.

Let’s go over a few key tips that you should know to help gain muscle effectively.

28Find The Right Workout Plan

First, you’ll need to find the right workout plan. Your workout must provide an overloading stimulus, which will help send the message to your body that it needs to grow stronger.

This usually comes in the form of more weight lifted, however it can also be increasing the number of reps and sets you perform as well.

A proper workout program designed for building lean muscle mass will gradually get more challenging as the days go by, ensuring you continue to see optimal results.

It will also focus more on strength training and less on the cardiovascular side of things.

Add A Smart Number Of Calories To Your Diet

Next, you also need to add a smart number of calories to your daily diet. Don’t just think that you can eat whatever you want here – if you eat too much, you will start to gain body fat.

Remember that your body can only generate so much muscle each day and any energy taken beyond what’s needed to complete that process will be converted to fat storage.

For optimal results, aim for around 200-350 calories more per day than you usually eat. This level over your maintenance calorie intake will help ensure that any weight you do gain is lean muscle mass.

Focus On Quality Food

In addition to adding the right number of calories, you also need to focus on eating high quality food. Some people make the mistake of feasting on whatever they desire when aiming to build muscle and this usually just leads to fat gain.

Remember, if you put in high quality fuel, you will get high quality weight gain out of the equation. Put in low quality food, and you’ll be seeing low quality weight gain.

You also need to eat healthy foods in order to fuel those intense workout sessions as well. Junk food just won’t fit the bill here.

Value Rest And Recovery

Finally, last but not least, value rest and recovery. In order to get stronger and build more lean muscle mass, your body needs time to repair itself after each intense workout you do.

Start putting rest and recovery on top priority. Get at least two days of full rest each week, and consider another one to two days where you do only light exercise. This will ensure you come back to each intense workout session feeling your best.

So there you have the key steps to take to help you build lean muscle mass. If you need help finding a proper program to achieve success, check out for a wide number of workout program options.

4 Moves For Shapely Shoulders

Looking to build up your shoulder muscles? If so, it’s important that you understand which exercises will get you there.

Building strong shoulders is a plus for both men and women. For men, having strong, developed shoulders will help create that powerful V-taper look that most men covet. For females on the other hand, having strong shoulders can help create the illusion of a slimmer waist, which is typically desired by this gender.

So no matter who you are, it pays to focus on building shapely shoulders.

Let’s go over four great exercises to get into your plan to help you do just that.

34Incline Bench Press

While the incline bench press is primarily going to work the chest muscles, don’t overlook the fact that your shoulders will be called into play.

Thanks to the angle that you’re at while performing this exercise, you’ll get great shoulder muscle activation, seeing improvement in both shape and strength.

Shoulder Press

Next, the shoulder press is another great move to get into your program that will target the shoulders alone, so is a more focused way to gain strength. It can be performed with a set of dumbbells, a barbell, or in the shoulder press machine at the gym – whichever you prefer.

Do this exercise towards the start of your workout program so you can lift a maximal amount of weight with it.

Lateral Raise

The lateral raise is another must-do exercise if you want excellent shoulder definition. This move will hit either the medial deltoid muscle if you do the lateral raise to the side or the front deltoid muscle if doing the lateral raise to the front.

Both of these variations are going to force the muscle to work on its own ensuring optimal strength is gained.

When doing this exercise, make sure to perform it in a very slow and controlled movement pattern. Far too many people make the mistake of swinging the weight upwards, which will take all the tension off the shoulder muscle.

Upright Rows

Finally, the last move to get into your shoulder shaping program is the upright row. This one can also be performed with a set of dumbbells or a barbell – whichever you prefer and is great for helping to round out your shoulders, creating that capped appearance.

Do it after you do your shoulder press, but before you do your lateral raises. Be sure to keep the elbows pointed straight out to the sides as well in order to prevent any excess strain from being placed on the joint.

So there you have four great exercises to do as part of your overall shoulder workout routine. If you need help finding a workout program that will help target your shoulder muscles perfectly, check out With a number of options to choose from, you’ll find one that’s right for you.

How Often Should You Work Out?

If you’re just starting out in your fitness endeavors, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by all of the factors surrounding fat burning and muscle building. From choosing the ideal exercise program to picking healthy nutritional choices, the fitness lifestyle certainly has a learning curve. One other factor to consider is training frequency, or how often you find yourself engaging in exercise. The number of times you find yourself in the weight room or in class all depends on your current ability and experience level. It’s not just a matter of considering the number of times you work out, but the type of workout you perform. Let’s take a look at the training frequency that is ideal for each type of experience level.


If you have very little experience with resistance training, then you may want to begin with full body workouts that center on compound exercises. Compound exercises allow you to activate the greatest number of muscle groups while burning the most calories. Compound exercises also help to strengthen connections and communication between all muscle groups. These movements will help to build a strong foundation for you to build on once you begin splitting your workouts based on muscle group. Examples of compound exercises include:

• Squats
• Deadlifts
• Bench Press
• Lunges
• Overhead Press
• Pull-ups
• Push-ups
• Plank


If you have been working out consistently for over a year, then it may be time for you to upgrade your current workout. Body splits are a common way to break through plateaus while continuing to build muscle and burn fat. There are two common ways to split your workouts based on muscle groups.

Upper vs. Lower

You could base your workouts on upper body and lower body workouts. For instance, one day you may exercise your chest and back while the next day will be reserved for quadriceps and hamstrings. The benefit to this method is you are still activating a large number of muscle groups while allowing for a longer recovery time. For example, if you work your upper body on Monday then you wouldn’t do it again until Thursday, assuming there is a rest day on Wednesday.

Full Isolation

Many bodybuilders take this approach as it allows for maximum hypertrophy and maximum recovery time. You will split every major muscle group to one day per week. Each workout will exert the muscle to complete exhaustion; hence the need for maximum recovery time. Using between 20 and 30 sets per workout, you will dedicate one day to each of the following:

• Chest
• Back
• Quadriceps
• Hamstrings
• Shoulders
• Arms

The seventh day can be dedicated to resting or hitting the muscle groups again that didn’t get the attention they deserved. You will include core exercises on several days of your choice such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.


An excellent option for beginners or those looking to change up their workouts, fitness classes offer you the professional knowledge of industry veterans and the variety to keep things interesting. Open Fitness offers several different types of group classes such as Yoga, Cardio, Dance, Pilates and Boot Camp. Visit to check out the complete list of classes.

Creating A Perfect Protein Smoothie

As you get going with your workout program, you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting sufficient protein into your diet on a daily basis. Nothing is more important for optimal fat loss results than taking in sufficient high quality protein.

It’ll help keep hunger low, help manage blood glucose levels, and help prevent muscle mass loss, all while increasing your resting metabolic rate. Think of it as a power food as far as fat loss is concerned.

If you struggle to get your protein needs met however, as many do, you might want to consider whipping up yourself a protein smoothie throughout the day. Not only are these great after a hard workout session to help increase the speed of recovery you experience, but they’re also going to be ideal for a fast and easy way to get in some nutrition throughout the day.

Let’s look at the main ingredients to add into your protein smoothie to make it as healthy and nutritionally balanced as possible.

50Protein Powder

To form the base of your smoothie, you’ll want to add your favorite flavor of protein powder. Chocolate, vanilla, or fruit flavors all work great here, so get creative and see what you can come up with.

Whey protein powder is almost 100% pure protein and also offers immune strengthening benefits.

Unsweetened Almond Milk

Next, you’ll need to add a liquid. Unsweetened almond milk works great here as it’s very low in calories and doesn’t contain the milk sugar lactose that gives many people trouble.

It has a very mild flavor, so you’ll hardly notice in in there, but yet, it will create the perfect consistency of this smoothie.

Frozen Fruit

Now you need to add your fruit. Frozen fruit tends to work best as it’ll help make the smoothie frothier and like a milkshake.

Frozen berries work great if you’re focusing on weight loss as they contain a lower dose of sugar. Alternatively, if you’re gearing up for an active day, using a frozen banana is a smart move as the added carbs and potassium will help fuel those hard working muscles.

Nut Butter/Seeds

Next you need to add your healthy fats. A little nut butter or some type of seed works perfect here. Whether it’s almond butter, peanut butter, or flaxseeds, this healthy fat will help give your smoothie some staying power, ensuring you don’t get hungry and hour after drinking it.

Just be sure to watch portion size here as these calories will add up quickly.

Xanthan Gum

Finally, if you really want to create a milkshake-like drink, add just a tiny bit of xanthan gum. This is a thickening agent that will also create a more creamy taste and texture.

About a ¼ tsp. is all you need. Don’t overdo this or it will not produce a shake you’ll enjoy.

So there you have the top ingredients to use as you prepare a protein smoothie to help get you through the day. Get creative and see what variations you can come up with.

Need help finding the perfect exercise plan? Check out, where you will have an unlimited amount of options at your fingertips.

Four Quick Tips To Reduce Ab Flab

Struggling with your goal to get a flat stomach? Not only is reducing the amount of belly fat you have good for improving your overall body image, but it’s also important for boosting your health as well.

Body fat located in the abdominal region is especially harmful to your health as it’s fat that’s in and around your organs. By reducing it, you can decrease your overall risk-factor for a number of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, as well as diabetes.

That said, it’s much easier said than done. Belly fat at times can be the hardest fat to lose, which is why you need a firm gain plan in place.

Let’s look at four quick tips to know and remember that will help you reduce ab flab.

54Drink More Water

First, focus on adding more water into your day. As simple as it sounds, water really can help you lose belly fat. It does this in three ways.

First, it’ll help combat hunger, meaning you take in fewer calories over the course of the day, which is key for fat loss results.

Second, it helps give you more energy. The more energy you have, the more likely you are to move around and exercise, resulting in more calories burnt.

Finally, it can also help you boost your metabolic rate, meaning you burn more calories 24/7. Even slight amounts of dehydration can cause your metabolic rate to slow, making fat loss sluggish at best.

Add Interval Cardio Training

Next, consider adding some interval cardio training into your workout plan. Alternating between all out bouts of intense cardio with active rest periods is a great way to not only burn calories while you do the session, but also jumpstart your calorie burn for hours after the workout is completed.

Interval training is the best way to increase the speed of weight loss.

Pick Up The Free Weights

Next, make sure that you’re not neglecting the weights. While cardio is definitely an important part of a fat loss plan, it’s not the only part.

Free weight training can help you firm up and add more muscle tone to your body, ensuring you look your best as you begin to lose that body fat. Plus, it will also help improve your resting metabolic rate, which means more total fat loss.

Remember that getting a flat stomach is all about decreasing your overall body fat levels, so the faster you can lose weight (safely of course), the faster you will accomplish this goal.

Get More Sleep

Getting enough sleep at night is also critical to getting that slim, flat stomach. If you aren’t sleeping enough at night, this could mean you increase the level of cortisol in the body, a stress hormone that actually promotes fat accumulation in the abdominal region.

By getting to bed on time, you’ll wake up more energized and ready to face the day as well. As your energy might already be lower thanks to the diet plan you’re on, you don’t want lack of sleep added to the mix.

So there you have some quick tips to help you reduce your level of body fat, which also means abdominal fat loss in the process. If you follow these and stay consistent, you’ll be seeing a slimmer stomach in no time.

Want some ab workouts to try out to help firm and tone your midsection in particular? Check out for some great protocols to follow.

Diet or Exercise: Which is more important for weight loss?

When your goal is shedding pounds, it can be easy to be caught up in trendy diet, exercise, and supplementation programs that are popular. The amount of work that you need to put into diet and exercise may seem overwhelming at first, prompting you to wonder whether you need both. As you may have heard time and time again, diet and exercise go hand in hand with one complementing the other. With that said, if importance had to be placed on one of the two when it comes to weight loss, it would be your diet program.


First and foremost, your focus should not be on losing weight; rather, it should be on burning or losing body fat. Losing weight implies a total body weight loss, including lean muscle tissue. Fat loss means that you want to retain as much muscle as possible while shedding the greatest amount of adipose tissue. Thinking in these terms will help you in the long run.


Losing body fat is all about caloric expenditure. It was an excess of caloric consumption that led to the gain in body fat; therefore, adjusting the amount of calories you are eating each day is the key to getting rid of it. When it comes to caloric expenditure, nothing beats a healthy, set-calorie diet. Exercise does contribute to caloric expenditure but not in the same way. You may burn 500 to 800 calories with one exercise session but if you are consuming 3,500 to 4,000 unhealthy calories, that exercise session won’t put a dent in your expenditure.


Depending on your gender, body type, and medical conditions, the ideal amount of calories for fat burning will vary. Regardless, the idea is to burn more calories than you consume. On average, a 1,800 to 2,000 calorie diet will suffice for those just starting out. If, after several weeks, you are no longer seeing a difference on the scale or in how you look, subtract an additional 100 to 200 calories.


While diet is essential for proper caloric expenditure, there’s no reason to rule out exercise. Aerobic exercise is needed to improve overall health with an emphasis on heart health. Adding resistance training to your program will help to build lean muscle tissue. The more lean tissue you have, the more calories you can burn while doing nothing. Muscle is a calorie-burning machine; hence why it is the other half of the equation for fat loss.


If you want to focus all of your effort on creating and sticking to a diet plan, then let your local fitness studio handle your exercise needs. Enrolling in a local fitness class will help you fulfill your daily recommended aerobic exercise requirements while burning calories and building muscle. Open Fitness offers several different types of group classes such as Yoga, Cardio, Dance, Pilates and Boot Camp. Visit to check out the complete list of classes.

The Supplement That Improves Recovery During Exercise

As you move through your workout session, you might start to wonder which supplements you could be using to help you take your progress one step further.

While no supplement will ever replace a proper nutrition plan and workout program, there are products out on the market that may give you an added edge.

One such product that you might have come across before is the branched chain amino acids product, otherwise known as BCAA’s.

What’s this product all about and will it really help you see optimal success?

Let’s go over what you need to know about BCAA’s so that you can figure out if it’s the right supplement for you.

41What BCAA’s Are

BCAA’s are specific amino acids – L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine that are used for muscular repair and recovery. While you will take these in whenever you are eating meat protein, the problem is that when in food format, they first go to the liver where they are then processed.

This is less than ideal because they can’t provide nearly the same level of benefits as they would if they went directly to the muscle tissues themselves.

And, by having them in powder supplement form, that’s precisely what they do.

What Benefits They Bring

So what will BCAA’s offer you? First, they’ll help to give you a great energy boost. If you find you feel tired partway through your workout session, you might just find that this supplement helps you avoid that.

Second, they’ll also help prevent the level of muscle tissue breakdown you’d normally experience. By taking BCAA’s, you won’t be as catabolic, meaning you can recover faster between each workout session that you do.

This means you can hit the gym again sooner, seeing faster progress.

Finally, BCAA’s can also help to boost your metabolic rate. This means you burn more total calories up throughout the day, potentially seeing a faster rate of recovery because of it.

How To Use Them For Optimal Results

So now that you know what BCAA’s do, how can you use them? They’re typically taken as a during workout supplement, meaning you’ll mix them with water and sip them throughout the workout. This way they get into the muscle cells quickly when they’re needed most.

Alternatively, you can also drink them prior or post workout as well, or even on off days if you feel like your recovery capacity is lagging.

As they are calorie free, you won’t need to account them in your daily calorie total, so they can literally be taken any time you feel like it. They typically do come in a flavored variety, so can also be a great way to ensure you’re drinking enough water as well.

So all in all, if you want more energy during your workout sessions and a faster rate of recovery, you might want to consider adding BCAA’s to your day.

Need a workout program to get started with? Check out for a wide variety of effective programs that will help you reach your goals quickly.

Fast Tips To Jump-Start Sluggish Energy For Your Workout Session

Have a workout session coming up but not feeling in the mood? For many people, lack of energy is one of the top reasons they find themselves forgoing their fitness. They come home after a busy day at work and the last thing they want to do is get active.

Instead, they’d much rather succumb to the couch and call it a day in front of their favorite TV show.

To help ensure this doesn’t happen to you, let’s go over a few quick tips that you can use to boost your energy levels and get that session in.

135Sip Coffee Mid-Afternoon

There’s nothing quite like a dose of caffeine to give you an energy boost, so you can use this in your favor. First, try and quit starting your day with a caffeine hit. The less you can rely on caffeine on a day to day basis, the more it will help you out when you need it most.

If you feel tiredness setting in, at around 4pm (assuming an after-workout workout is what you have planned), have one cup of coffee. You want to take in around 100 mg of caffeine here, which should be about right for most brands.

Then, in about an hour, you’ll feel that caffeine kicking in just as you’re about to get started with your session.

Just be careful of doing this too late in the evening otherwise the caffeine might keep you up at night.

Time Your Meals Right

Next, it’s also critical that you time your meals right. Are you eating at regular intervals throughout the day? If not, that’s your first mistake.

Make sure that you start your day with a good breakfast and then eat a meal or snack every 3-4 hours after that. Ensuring you have a steady source of energy coming in will help ensure that you have the energy to give to that workout.

If 5 pm hits and all you’ve had is a light salad at lunch, it’s no wonder you don’t have much energy.

Start fueling yourself better and you can reclaim your energy and do that workout session.

Take A Brisk Walk At Lunch

Another quick way to improve your energy is to take a brisk walk at lunch. If you sit for 8 hours straight, this in itself will make you feel sluggish. Get out on your lunch break for at least 15 minutes, getting your blood flowing and your energy up. This will help you feel that much better after work and as an added bonus, you’ll have already gotten some exercise in.

Have Your Workout Ready And Waiting

Finally, when you return home, make sure that you have your workout ready and waiting. If your clothes are lined up and you know exactly what you’ll be doing, there will be less guesswork involved.

You can simply get right to it, relaxing once it’s finished.

So keep these quick tips in mind. If you find you’re always low in energy, put them to good use and you should find that feeling changes. Also be sure that you are doing fast paced, energetic sessions as well. Check out for a wide variety of workouts you’ll love.


The Busy Schedule Workout

You know how important exercising on a daily basis is but most days, you can’t find the time. Whether you’re rushing off to work or making sure someone else is on time, fitness doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. If you are short on time but still want to get in shape, you need to try High Intensity Interval Training. This methodology of exercise has been proven to offer the biggest bang for your buck. It is time efficient and highly effective at burning fat. Let’s take a look at what High Intensity Interval Training is.


High Intensity Interval Training is also called H.I.I.T. It has been the subject of numerous studies in the past few years, all of which have come up with the same results. Time after time, H.I.I.T. has been shown to be superior to the traditional low-intensity, short duration exercise programs of the past. As demonstrated in this study published in the Australian Family Physician, all of the benefits associated with aerobic exercising with an emphasis on weight loss are amplified by the utilization of H.I.I.T.


H.I.I.T. can be incorporated into various training methods such as weight lifting, TRX, or Yoga. It’s most often used with bodyweight exercises, or calisthenics. A standard H.I.I.T. program will involve a set number of exercises that are performed one after another with no rest in between. Depending on your ability and experience level, once you go through the entire list one time, you will take a break ranging from 60 seconds to several minutes. Afterward, you begin again from the top of the list.


In this sample workout, follow the recommended repetitions for each exercise. Perform each one to the best of your ability but make sure to challenge yourself. Once you have completed the entire list, push yourself to complete another round or two, if you are physically able to do so. Remember to record your workout and the amount of time it took you to complete it.

• Wall Squat: 30 seconds
• Modified Medicine Ball Push-ups: 10
• Bird Dog: 20
• Lunges: 25
• Staggered Hands Push-ups: 10
• Single Leg Deadlift: 15
• Burpees: 10
• Leg Flutter: 20
• Wall Squat: 30 seconds


Fitness classes are an excellent way to get the challenge you are looking for while utilizing different variations of high intensity interval training. Veteran professional group instructors have an in-depth knowledge of hundreds of exercises, ensuring you will rarely do the same thing twice. You can move at your own pace with no fear of judgment or critique. Best of all, you’ll be building a new body amidst the company of friends. If you want all benefits of H.I.I.T. in a fun and carefree environment, consider joining a fitness class.

Open Fitness offers several different types of group classes such as Yoga, Cardio, Dance, Pilates and Boot Camp. Visit to check out the complete list of classes.

4 Tips To Make Your Workouts More Enjoyable

Gearing up for a workout session ahead? Whether you’re hitting the gym yourself or partaking in a group fitness or video class, there are certain things that you can do to make your workouts that much more enjoyable.

It’s important that you constantly remember to assess your enjoyment level because if you ever reach a point where you just aren’t enjoying those sessions any longer, it won’t be long before you’ve fallen off the bandwagon.

16This said, let’s look at four quick tips to make your workouts more exciting.

Add More Variety

The first great tip is to ensure that you are adding sufficient variety into your workout routine. Lack of variety is not only the cause of mental boredom, but can also be the cause of lack of results as well.

Always remember that your body needs change in order to adapt and get stronger. If you’re doing the same workout over and over again, you aren’t creating the change necessary for results.

Try having at least four or five different workouts on hand that you rotate through as you progress along with your program.

Get A Workout Buddy

Next, also consider getting a workout buddy to join you in the session you’re doing. This could mean inviting a friend over as you do an exercise video or hitting the gym with a partner.

Being in the company of another will not only help you stay motivated, but may also help you push yourself as well, allowing you to see more significant progress.

This workout buddy should be ideally at around the same skill level as you for optimal results.

Set A Daily Goal

It’s also important that you set a daily goal when going about your workout sessions. Think of one thing that you want to accomplish during that specific workout session and go after it.

This does two things. First, it increases your focus on the workout session at hand. When you look at this workout as part of about 15 that you’ll do this month for instance, it doesn’t seem so important in the grand scheme of things.

But, when you have an objective to accomplish during that specific session, all of a sudden putting forth maximum effort becomes more critical. This is precisely what you want to have happen here.

Second, setting this goal and then reaching it will also give you a boost to your self-confidence that you can reach the goals you’ve set out to obtain. That in turn can help you push harder and realize your long term goal sooner as well.

Turn Up The Music

Finally, last but not least, don’t forget to add music. Having some inspiring music playing while you do your workout sessions is going to help boost your overall energy in the session, helping you give more effort. This in turn means greater results and more excitement as well.

So there you have the primary points to remember if you want to liven up your workout and get more excited about fitness. Try these and watch how much more committed you become.

Want to find some fun and fast paced workout ideas? Check out for a variety of different options.

Why Compound Exercises Are A Must

Looking to build more muscular strength? Or perhaps fat loss is your primary goal? Or, maybe you’re an athlete and are looking for ways that you can enhance your athletic performance.

Whatever the case may be, compound exercises are a must for your workout routine. Many people aren’t quite sure what exercises to be doing when they hit their workouts each week, but this can really make or break the progress you see.

If you perform the wrong exercises, it could mean minimal results and worse, workout boredom.

A particular set of compound exercises, which includes squats, deadlifts, lunges, shoulder press, bent over rows, and chest press are a must for all strength training workout programs.

Let’s go over why these are so beneficial so you can get a more clear idea of why they deserve a place in your workout program.

15High Calorie Burn

The first reason to be adding these compound moves to your protocol is to boost your workout calorie burn. The more muscle fibers you work in a given instant, the more calories you burn.

These exercises are going to target three or more muscle groups all at once, so you can imagine how quickly this adds up.

In addition to that, because these exercises are so intense overall, they’ll also help to jumpstart your metabolism and you’ll continue to see increased calorie burn for hours after the workout is completed as well.

Together, these two factors will really optimize fat burning results.

Greatly Improved Muscular Strength

The next reason to be adding these into your workout protocol is because they’re also going to go a long way towards improving your overall level of muscular strength.

Because they do work so many different muscle groups as just discussed, this means that you’ll be able to lift more weight in each and every rep you do.

More weight lifted means greater strength gains and this translates into superior results. You’ll see great functional strength gains using these moves, meaning that your performance on everyday activities will increase dramatically.

Improved Time Efficiency In The Gym

The next big benefit of these exercises is the fact that by doing them, you’ll need to spend less time in the gym overall. Because you will hit three or muscle groups in every rep you do, this means you can perform fewer exercises total per session while still working the entire body.

For those who need to get in and out of the gym quickly thanks to a busy schedule, this can be highly beneficial.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Finally, last but not least, you can expect to see great cardiovascular benefits from these moves as well. They’ll help really get your heart rate up, not only providing you with the strength gains you’re looking for, but also with improving heart health.

If you’re someone who doesn’t especially like traditional cardio training, a few sets of these can help provide similar benefits.

So there you have the primary reasons to make sure that compound exercises are part of your workout program. Want a workout that uses these along with other effective exercises? Check out for more ideas.

Biggest Exercise Mistakes You May Be Making

Passion for fitness must be followed by knowledge of fitness. Every time you enter a commercial gym, you’re sure to find several people making a series of mistakes that are stealing gains and increasing risk of injury. Make sure you are maximizing your results while avoiding injury by avoiding these common gym mistakes.



Hands down one of the most common mistakes across all levels of fitness enthusiasts, skipping on stretching is one mistake that may cost you big time. Stretching is an effective way to prepare you for the challenges ahead while preventing exercise-based injuries. Increasing your flexibility has long-term benefits as well, helping to prevent age-related injury and complications.

Let’s not forget about your performance, studies have shown how effective stretching can be in improving your overall performance in the weight room. As you can see in this study from the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, when stretching is made a part of your program, you help to boost the following:
• Power
• Strength
• Endurance
• Agility
• Overall performance


A common mistake for those just beginning their fitness lifestyle is to focus solely on cardiovascular-based exercises such as jogging and biking. While these types of aerobic exercises are important for your health, you are limiting yourself in a number of ways. You’ll discover that results via cardio are quick to reach that dreaded plateau. Once your body reaches a plateau, the scale will stop moving and there will be no differences in appearance. What’s more, focusing on cardio as your exercise program limits your ability to build lean muscle tissue, an important fat burner.


If you’re stuck on cardio-only exercises, then there’s a good chance you have a machine addiction as well. Machines are a great way for beginners to get comfortable with resistance exercises as the weight room can be an intimidating place. Eventually, you will need to break away from machines and push yourself to learn traditional weight lifting exercises. Using a machine limits your range of motion and muscle group utilization. If you feel uncomfortable about your technique, consider hiring a personal trainer.


Variety is an essential part of any fitness program, so why is it that so many people trudge into the gym each day to perform the same program for weeks and months on end? Your body is a marvelous thing. It adapts to the stress that it’s being placed under in an attempt to achieve homeostasis. If you don’t change up your acute variables, then you’ll stop seeing results. Every 6 to 8 weeks, swap out your exercises, increase the weight you’re using, or try a different sets-to-repetitions ratio.


One of the best ways to ensure you stretch, include variety, avoid machines, and get an overall great workout is to invest your time in a set of fitness classes. Provided by experienced and trained professionals, fitness classes can be as challenging as you need them to be. Trainers hold the knowledge of hundreds of exercises including regressions. Best of all, you are building your new body among friends. Open Fitness offers several different types of group classes such as Yoga, Cardio, Dance, Pilates and Boot Camp. Visit to check out the complete list of classes.

The Perfect Push-Up: What To Know

As you move through your workout program, it’ll only be so long before you find yourself having to perform a push-up exercise. Push-ups are great for strengthening the upper body and even the core to some degree and thanks to all the different variations you can do while performing them, you can be sure that you’ll never grow bored.

Let’s look at some quick tips to remember when doing your push-ups, so that you can ensure you’re using perfect form.

healthy woman doing pushupsKeep Your Core Tight

First and foremost, keep your core muscles tight the entire time. You want your body to assume the flat position at all times. The moment you see the hips lifting up or moving down, you know you’ve fallen out of good form.

By squeezing your abdominal muscles, you’ll help keep the body flat while executing the exercise. If you simply can’t do this, then you’ll want to try and easier variation of push-up until you can.

If you let your back move out of good position, you’ll be putting yourself at risk for serious back strain.

Lower Your Sternum Down

Next, you’ll want to lower your body down with your sternum reaching towards the floor. Some people instead lower down by positioning their face towards the ground, which usually leads to them moving their bum up into the air. This is not the correct form to be using.

Lower down thinking of touching your chest to the ground and this will help you maintain that flat position mentioned above.

You should come so far down that you are almost, but not quite touching.

Pause At The Bottom

Finally, for added intensity, take a brief pause at the bottom of the exercise. This will help you put more total tension on the chest and arm muscles, improving the results you see because of it.

This pause doesn’t need to be long – a 1or 2 count will be sufficient. Press back up from there to complete the rep.

So there you have the key points to know and keep in mind while doing a push-up. If you can integrate these into your exercise execution, you can ensure you will see maximum results.

Want to put your push-ups into action? Check out for a number of different workout varieties incorporating the push-up exercise into their protocol.

Symptoms Of Overtraining To Know

Excited about your new workout program? That’s great news. When most people first start out with their sessions, they have sky-high motivation. They’re antsy about the results they hope to be seeing and can’t wait to do their workout each and every day.

All of this however, can lead to major problems. Overtraining is a very real and serious thing and many simply think that it’ll only happen to professional athletes or those training hours per day.

Athlete man tiredThis isn’t’ the case however. Overtraining can happen to everyone and is almost more likely in beginners who haven’t learned their body’s signals that it’s time to ease up and stay away from their workouts.

Overtraining is a situation where your body simply cannot handle the level of stress being placed upon it and isn’t recovering fully between each workout session. If you are pushing hard, 5-6 days per week, you can see how this might start to occur.

To help you better recognize whether this might be coming into play with you, let’s go over some of the biggest signs to look out for.

Physical Symptoms

The primary physical symptom you’ll experience is fatigue. Ongoing fatigue that lasts more than one or two days indicates something is up, so don’t ignore it. Some people simply choose to push harder at this point – a sure mistake that will cost you long-term.

Other physical symptoms include:

  • Increased resting heart rates
  • Frequent occurrence of colds, flu’s, illness
  • Aches and pains that don’t seem to go away
  • Change in appetite from normal levels
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling sluggish and slow

You don’t need to present all of these symptoms to be at risk for problems – even just a few could indicate that some time off is needed.

Psychological Symptoms

In addition to the physical symptoms, you also want to watch out for psychological symptoms as well. Overtraining will manifest itself in both regards.

Here are the physiological symptoms to be on the lookout for.

  • Loss of motivation and desire to exercise
  • Lack of interest in doing activities formerly enjoyed
  • Loss of libido
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling anxious and highly irritable

If these, combined with physical symptoms are showing up, you know that trouble is around the corner.

What To Do Now?

So what do you do? First, take 4-5 days off away from all forms of exercise. In most cases, this is enough to fix the situation.

If you’ve persisted though for a while despite feeling this way, you may need more time off than this – anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months. Rest until you are feeling energized again and then start slowly back in the gym.

Don’t go fill speed ahead. Remember, your body was not recovering from what you were doing before, so if you go right back to the same sessions, you’ll be right back in the same place once again.

Make some modifications and then proceed forward. Cut back on the volume, intensity, or frequency of your sessions.

Always keep an eye out for overtraining symptoms. Don’t take them lightly if they start to show, but rather, take action immediately.

Want to find new workouts to try? Check out where you will find a wide selection of new and interesting ways to get fit fast.

Supersets: What You Need To Know About This Workout Technique

Looking for a way to shake up your workout program? If so, look no further than to the superset exercise technique. This advanced protocol will help you see results faster, liven up your workout routine, and help train your body to push through a fatigued state.

The end result? You see your fitness level improve and when you move back down to your normal straight-set workout, you’ll be seeing progress like you’ve never seen before.

You’ll feel stronger – possibly strong enough to get to the next level of weight and will also notice you can crank out a few more reps than normal.

You can use this technique whether you’re working out on your own or during a group fitness class as the teacher instructs you to do it.

Let’s look closer at what this method is and how you go about performing it.

Woman lifting  weights and working on her chest at the  gymWhat A Superset Is

First let’s go over what a superset is. A superset is where you take two different exercises and pair them back to back. So rather than doing a certain number of sets of one move and then progressing onward and doing another exercise entirely, you now do one set of one move, one set of another move, and then take your rest break.

This is then repeated until your total desired number of sets are finished upon which you can then move to the next pairing (or exercise, whatever the case may be).

Try and rest very little between each exercise in the superset in order to receive maximum benefits.

The Types Of Superset Training

So what type of superset should you be doing? There are a few different ways to structure the supersets. First, you can do same part supersets. These are very intense and will help build up a higher level of tolerance to fatigue in that muscle group.

This would have you doing two exercises for the same muscle group. So for instance, it might be a chest press followed by chest fly’s or some walking lunges followed by leg extensions.

By the time you’re at the end, get ready to face some serious fatigue.

Next, you might also do upper/lower supersets, which would involve you performing one exercise for the upper body followed by another exercise for the lower body.

This is great when doing a full body workout and will allow you to shorten your total time doing the workout considerably.

Finally, you can also work opposing muscle groups. So this might be a bicep curl followed by a tricep extension or a hamstring curl followed by a leg extension.

Both of these are going to help bring extra blood into that region of the body, giving you a fantastic pump and helping you grow stronger in the process.

So there you have the main points to know and remember about superset training. You definitely don’t need to do multiple supersets every workout, but doing two or three per session can definitely take your workouts up a notch.

Open Fitness is a great place to advance your fitness level as they offer a number of different classes including Yoga, Cardio, Dance, Pilates, and Bootcamp. Please see for more information.



How To Schedule Ab Workouts With The Rest Of Your Session

Flat abs. If this is a goal for you, you aren’t alone. More and more people are striving to obtain that flat stomach and show off the fact they are fit and healthy. But yet, few people ever achieve this goal.

In order to see optimal success, you need to know how to plan your workout sessions along with everything else you are doing in your program. Most people think that when getting a flat stomach is a priority, they should perform their core training at the beginning of their workout so they can put full effort into it.

Sadly, this isn’t correct.

Let’s take a look at the best way to structure your core workouts along with the rest of your workout session.

Group of people exercisingEnd Of Session Core Work

The first option is to put your core work at the very end of your workout session. This is typically best for two reasons.

First, it ensures that your core is nice and strong when doing all of your other heavy lifts. Remember, you will be engaging your core muscles when you perform all of your exercises including squats, deadlifts, push-ups, lunges, and so forth. If you have tired core muscles, it will impact your performance on these exercises, giving you fewer results.

The second reason why this tends to work well is because the core is worked when you are doing all these exercises, this means that by the time you get to the end of your workout, the core muscles will already be in a partially fatigued state.

Translation? You have to do less work overall to bring them to that state of full fatigue that’s needed to see progress.

So in essence, by placing your core work at the end of the workout program, you’ll not only see better results, but you’ll also have to do less work overall to see those results.

It’s a win-win scenario.

Between Set Core Work

Another option is to put your core work between other sets you do. So for instance, you might do a set of push-ups and then perform a set of crunches. Or, you might do some lunges and then perform a set of lying leg raises.

The nice thing about this is that it keeps your body workout and your heart rate up even during your resting periods, giving you more of a cardiovascular boost in the session.

The drawback is that because you are fatiguing your core every step throughout your workout, the lifts you do towards the end might suffer.

So you need to weight the trade-off here and decide what’s most important to you.

Post-Cardio Core Work

Finally, the last time to do them is after you finish a workout session. If you aren’t doing any strength training workout that day, you can do them once all your cardio exercise is completed.

This is great because your abs should still be quite fresh and strong, meaning you can work them hard without worry. The only drawback is that because they are fresh, you’ll need to do more work overall to fully fatigue them.

So there you have the three times when it is appropriate to be doing your core exercises. Place your ab workouts here and you’ll be seeing better success.

Open Fitness is a great place to advance your fitness level as they offer a number of different classes including Yoga, Cardio, Dance, Pilates, and Bootcamp. Please see for more information.



How Often Should You Workout?

Wondering how often you should be doing your workout sessions? The answer to this question isn’t black and white. Rather, there are a number of factors that must be taken into account when trying to determine the proper workout frequency.

Let’s go over what some of these are so that you can come to decide how often you should be working out based on your individual situation.

Exercise words  on a calendarYour Skill Level

The first thing to look at is your skill level. A beginner will need a much different protocol than someone who has been exercising for five or more years.

Beginners should aim for around three days per week. This will allow for one day between sessions, which is a good amount of recovery.

More advanced exercisers should aim for four to six days per week, depending on the factors we’ll discuss next.

Your Activity Pattern

Another important consideration is your overall activity pattern. Are you always on the go? If so, you may not get the rest and recovery you need between sessions as someone who simply held a desk job for instance.

For this reason, you may need to workout one or two days less per week. Likewise, someone who is also participating in other activities such as team sports or otherwise may also need a less frequent workout session.

Three days in either of these situations will be more ideal.

The Type Of Workout

Next, consider the type of workout you’re doing. If you’re doing a very casual, low intensity style workout, you can likely do this five to six days a week without worry as it simply won’t be taxing your body.

But, if you are doing a more intense workout such as interval training, HIIT of any variety, or intense strength training, you’ll want to limit yourself to just 3-4 days per week of intense training (beginners won’t be doing this level of training at all).

This will provide sufficient recovery time between those sessions.

Your Stress Level

Finally, also consider your stress level. While this may seem odd to consider, how stressed out you are on a regular basis can impact your recovery ability. Remember, overtraining sets in when your entire system is facing more stress than it can handle.

It doesn’t really matter if this stress is financial stress, work stress, relationship stress, or exercise stress. Stress is stress and will impact you nonetheless.

So if you are highly stressed out right now in your life, you may not be able to handle as much exercise as you would if you were less stressed. Keep this in mind and adjust your program accordingly – or take steps to reduce your overall stress level.

So there you have the top factors to know and remember regarding how often you should workout. There’s no right or wrong answer here, but rather, an answer that’s right for you.

Want to find some fun and fast paced workout ideas? Check out for a variety of different options.

4 Workout Myths You Must Not Fall For

As you get geared up for your workout session, there are some key workout myths that you must make sure you aren’t falling prey to. These myths sadly circulate around, catching many people in their trap.

If you fall for them, you could waste weeks, if not months of your time seeing little to no progress.

Let’s take a look at four of the biggest workout myths that you should know.

Working outMyth #1: Cardio Is For Fat Loss, Weights Are For Muscle Gain

The first myth is the notion that you should do cardio training for fat loss and only use weight training if you want to gain weight. Nothing is further from the truth.

While cardio definitely does have a place in a weight loss program, you should definitely be strength training the entire way through.

Strength training is the only way to reshape your body and it will also help to significantly elevate your metabolic rate, allowing weight control to be that much easier.

Aim to lift weights three to four times a week for optimal fat burning results.

Myth #2: More Exercise Is Always Better

Next, another myth is that more exercise is always better. If you can do 30 minutes on the elliptical, this must mean that 60 will be superior, right?

Wrong. Remember, too much exercise will just put your body on the verge of overtraining. Plus, the more exercise you do, the lower your intensity will typically be and this often means less total fat loss.

Instead, think quality. Quality will always trump quantity when it comes to your workout sessions.

Myth #3: High Reps Burn More Calories

The next myth that you should know is the myth that when doing weight lifting, you should be using high rep training to burn more total calories. Again, not true.

If you use high rep training, this means that you must be using a lighter weight. And that means you won’t be challenging yourself all that much. This then means less results.

If you want to see optimal success, whether you are looking to lose fat or build muscle, aim for 8-15 reps total. You usually won’t need to go higher than this.

Myth #4: The Fat Burning Zone

Finally, also consider the myth of the fat burning zone. This myth states that to burn fat effectively, you need to exercise at lower intensity levels. While it is true that lower intensity exercise burns more calories from fat as a fuel source while higher intensity burns more calories from carbs, this doesn’t really matter at the end of the day.

What will dictate whether or not you lose body fat is your total daily calorie balance. And, intense training out of the ‘fat burning zone’ burns more calories overall, so it comes out ahead.

Don’t fall for the ‘fat burning zone’ myth. Push yourself harder and you’ll see better results.

So keep these myths in mind as you move through your workout session. Were you falling for any of them?

Want to find more effective workouts that will help you lose fat? Check out for more information.



Lunge Variations To Try During Your Next Workout

One of the top exercises that you should have in place during your lower body workout sessions is the lunge. Lunges are great as they’ll work the quads, hamstrings, glutes, as well as the core to some degree as well as it contracts to keep you stabilized.

They’re also a fantastic calorie burner. Do one set of walking lunges, aiming for 20 reps per leg and see if your heart rate isn’t sky-high by the time you’re done. You can easily boost your cardiovascular fitness with these, all without having to do hours of cardio training.

This said, not all lunge variations are created equally. Some will hit the muscles in a slightly different manner, so it’s important to choose wisely with your goals.

Let’s go over the main variations you should know.

Woman Doing LungesWalking Lunges

The first variety is the basic walking lunge. For this one, you simply hold a pair of dumbbells down by your sides (if using weight) and walk across the room, one foot in front of the other.

This one is great for cardiovascular conditioning and will tend to hit both the quads and hamstrings equally.

Split Squat Lunges

The next option is the split squat lunge. This one is perfect for those who want to firm up and shape their backside as it’ll hit the glutes to a larger degree.

To do this one, you simply place one foot up on a bench behind you, holding a set of dumbbells by your sides (if using weight). From there, you bend the supportive leg, bringing the raised leg knee down as close to the ground as possible.

Once there, pause and then press back up. Complete all reps to one side and then switch sides and repeat.

To get the most from this exercise, you’ll want to think of pressing up through the heel of the foot, not the toes. This ensures optimal glute muscle activation.

Jump Lunges

Jump lunges are another great variety that add a plyometric element into the equation. Simply move down into a lunge and then spring up off the ground as high as possible, switching legs mid-air. Land a lunge position again, this time the opposite leg in front.

Keep repeating until all reps are completed. This exercise is great for cardiovascular conditioning and will help improve your power capabilities.

Reverse Lunges

Finally, reverse lunges are the last move you might consider doing. To perform these, stand in an upright position and then take one step back behind you. Slowly lunge down into position.

Once there, pause and then come back up again. Keep doing this on the same leg or repeat legs and work both simultaneously.

This move will be excellent for working on your balance and agility ability, while also hitting your hamstrings to a slightly higher degree.

So next time you’re in the gym, consider one of these lunge variations. Switch it up between them to receive optimal strength and progress results.


Open Fitness is a great place to advance your fitness level as they offer a number of different classes including Yoga, Cardio, Dance, Pilates, and Bootcamp. Please see for more information.


How To Set Proper Workout Goals

As you gear up for your workout training, it’s going to be important that you’ve set the right goals. Having a good set of goals is going to be one of the top factors that determines whether you stick with your workout routine or it’s just another time where you find yourself falling off the bandwagon.

GOALS word cloud, fitness, sport, health concept So what can you do to ensure success?
Here are some goal setting tips for you.

Use The SMART Goal Setting Formula

The first and possibly most important step in setting the right goals is to ensure you are using the SMART goal setting principle. This means that the goal is as specific as possible, it’s measurable, it’s attainable, it’s realistic, and it has a timeframe for completion.

Each of these is going to give your motivational levels a boost, help prevent you from procrastinating on that goal, and ensure that you know how close you are coming to reach that goal.

Don’t for instance, just say you want to ‘lose weight’. How will you ever know when you’ve reached that goal? Set a specific number – 10 pounds for instance and give it a realistic timeline.

This is the best way to set yourself up for success.

Set Short Term And Long Term Goals

Another important goal setting point to note is that your goals should be set over the short and long term. Many people just set that long term goal and then forget about it.

Do this and you risk losing steam halfway through your journey. When that light is so far away that you can’t see it any longer, that’s when you’ll be falling off the bandwagon.

Instead, set shorter term goals. Something that you can accomplish every two weeks to one month. This will break that longer term goal up and keep you focused on each end prize.

Write Your Goals Down

Finally, make sure that you review your goals often. Write them down and then read them over daily. This will help keep them focused in your mind and you’ll always know why you are putting in the effort that you are to reach those goals.

Also keep in mind that your goals are never set in stone. As you read them over each day, if you feel like one goal isn’t as applicable to you as it once was, don’t be afraid to change it.

Remember that this is your journey here and you have complete control over the goals that you are striving to obtain. Life changes and so will those goals. Make sure that you adapt them or they simply won’t serve to motivate you like they once did.

So keep these goal setting tips in mind. Don’t skip over this process as it really can make all the difference in the results that you see.

Open Fitness is a great place to advance your fitness level as they offer a number of different classes including Yoga, Cardio, Dance, Pilates, and Bootcamp. Please see for more information.