5 Essentials For Better Fitness Training

by tinareale on February 7, 2012

Good morning! I have a little fitness talk to discuss with you today. A little reminder, if you will.

I have been big into fitness and learning about workouts for a decade. Over that time, I have learned a lot, but I often realize that we can all too easily forget some important basics. Today, let’s establish 5 basics to set the foundation for our fitness training. We put in the effort, so don’t we want to get the most out of it – safely and effectively?  I thought you would want that. Winking smile


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1. Work Your Stabilization.

In order to have truly functional levels of fitness, it is important to improve your body’s ability to balance and stabilize itself. That comes with practice and doing exercises that challenge your stability. It gives a great foundation for the muscles and joints to help improve overall fitness. Plus, it’s a great way to challenge yourself in new ways. And it’s fun, too!

  • those 22 planks are a perfect example of working stabilization!

2. Don’t Forget Flexibility.


There’s this little thing called length-tension relationships. Basically, it means you want your muscles at the proper, normal length for them to function optimally. That’s where flexibility comes in. Stretching regularly after workouts, warming up properly, using techniques such as foam rolling, and/or participating in things like yoga work wonders!

3. Tame Your Tempo. Don’t just go through the motions of a workout. Really pay attention to the pace of your strength training moves. You want movements to be controlled. Also switching up the tempo, going at a sloooowww pace for example, will up the intensity and force your body to work harder to control the weight. Paying attention to tempo also helps with proper form.

4. Train Everything.

Example Compound Move

It’s so easy to focus on your favorite body parts in a workout – to hit the legs, but never train the upper body. To work the abs, but not the low back. To rock out the bicep curls, but never do a bench press. To avoid muscular imbalances, which can lead to injury, train your entire body. It doesn’t have to be all at once. Simply try to hit each muscle group once or twice a week.

5. Recovery Matters.

I’m sure you know just how vital rest days are in a workout rotation. If not, then add one in to your workout schedule right now; I beg of you! Yes, rest days matter. Rest days are actually when your body makes the most progress as it repairs and strengthens itself.

However, do you pay attention to recovery workouts?? In other words, regularly having planned workouts at a lower intensity to help prevent overtraining? A completely different matter…but just as important. Not every workout should be balls to the wall hard. At least one workout a week should be done at a lower intensity and, at minimal, every two months should have a full week of a lighter work load than normal. It can keep you in tip top shape…and give you some oomph for the future. Trust me.

So, there you have it! Five things we often forget, but need to do in order to keep our fitness at its peak. I’m glad we had this little talk. Now let’s hold each other to it, okay?

What do you have to remind yourself about with your training habits?


1 Lauren @ What Lauren Likes February 7, 2012 at 6:50 am

Great post! I always have to remember to have a recovery day :)

2 Deborah (Schmiet) February 7, 2012 at 6:59 am

I hate to confess to this but I have to remind myself to work to capacity. I often pace myself not knowing what’s next and keeping a bit in reserve in case I need it!

I’ve actually just drafted a post for tomorrow about needing to keep pushing myself during exercise and trying new things to increase my fitness.

I particularly need to pay attention to 3 & 4 in your excellent list…


3 Nicole February 7, 2012 at 7:10 am

as usual great post tina! Flexibility is one I’m lacking in…need to work on it!

4 Katie @ Raisins&Apples February 7, 2012 at 7:20 am

I think recovery workouts are some of my favorites, it makes me realize why I enjoy working out and what it’s all about!

5 tinareale February 7, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Same here. Recovery runs feel so freeing…as long as they’re not on the treadmill. ;)

6 Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health February 7, 2012 at 7:22 am

Awesome post Tina! I think it is so important to do a lighter workout once a week- it’s something I’ve learned that I need. And I too take a week of doing much lighter workouts every few months and it has been a saving grace for my body :D .

7 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey February 7, 2012 at 7:23 am

blah blah blah to you reminding me I need to foam roll and stretch more often. ::sigh:: It’s going to hurt tonight.

8 Brenda February 7, 2012 at 7:27 am

What great information Tina! I’ve never heard of recovery workouts and am going to have to incorporate those in for sure. Thanks!

9 Hilary February 7, 2012 at 7:39 am

Thanks for the reminders….all helpful tips! I constantly have to remind myself to stretch after working out…I am soooo bad st it!

10 Heather (Heather's Dish) February 7, 2012 at 7:40 am

flexibility training has always been the hardest for me…i feel like if i just GOGOGO for the full time i have to workout i’ll get the best results, but later when i feel like crap and am sore/stiff i’m always reminded otherwise!

11 Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) February 7, 2012 at 7:48 am

I am really working on my recovery workouts. I got a little over excited working out with Tabata and HIIT that I was kind of over working myself. Besides, I have a friend that is studying to be a trainer and we are both constantly showing each other workouts and doing different workouts together on top of my morning workouts. I was over exhausted last week and it showed. I’m getting better about it…

12 Tara Burner February 7, 2012 at 7:58 am

Excellent post Tina!
I often forget my trusty foam roller til it’s too late! LOL

13 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table February 7, 2012 at 8:01 am

Great tips! I neglect flexibility a lot… I take for granted that I am flexible, but that tends to disappear with age.

14 Meredith @ DareYouTo February 7, 2012 at 8:08 am

Wonderful tips. I’ve seen flexibility improve dramatically with stretching after workouts alone. Now, I also do pilates and yoga to work on flexibility AND stability.

15 Lee February 7, 2012 at 8:16 am

I need to focus on my flexibility. I am so bad about stretching and foam rolling.

16 Mattie @ comfy & confident February 7, 2012 at 8:16 am

Great reminders. I need a foam roller so bad. For me, Stretching would help wonders.

17 Heather (Where's the Beach) February 7, 2012 at 8:28 am

Very good post! And those driver lunges look fantastic. I really don’t do a lot of compound exercises like that and keep wanting to try to add them in.

18 Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries February 7, 2012 at 8:31 am

all great tips and reminders! i know i need to work at incorporating some recovery workouts to my workout schedule. i always take sunday as my rest day, but my other workout days are usually a little too intense without adding some easier workouts in. great post! :)

19 Parita @ myinnershakti February 7, 2012 at 8:44 am

Great post! Since the beginning of this year, I’ve tried to really add some variety to my workouts. So now I run, go to spin, strength train, and do yoga once a week. And I’ve learned that the one day of yoga makes a world of a difference. Stretching is sooo important.

20 Amanda @FancyOatmeal February 7, 2012 at 8:52 am

You are such an inspiration to me! Thank you for always helping to remind me of the small things that will make my workouts for beneficial, both mentally and physically. :)

21 Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef February 7, 2012 at 9:10 am

ahhh i need to stretch more. thanks for the reminder!

22 Jess February 7, 2012 at 9:22 am

I totally agree with everything in this post – shocker, I know. ;-)

I’ve been very particular about staying FOCUSED during my workouts, really practicing solid form, pushing myself to work to my limits and never phoning in a workout – while also remembering that one pull-back day a week is needed (plus a full rest day). I’m also learning to train my mind to think differently about the weeks I’m in Cali for work – rather than stress to the max about all the missed barre workouts and less-than-perfect running while I’m out there, I use it as my pull-back week instead. Running, but less intensely (which works well since I”m already exhausted the entire time I’m out there as it is!), and using yoga and core dvds in my room to keep me mentally focused. It’s something I think we should all practice more of – pulling back every now and then to let those bodies recover – we work them SO hard all the time, a pull-back week can work wonders.

23 Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers February 7, 2012 at 9:37 am

great tips! i NEED to work on my flexibility. blahhh!

24 Whitney @LiveRunLoveYoga February 7, 2012 at 9:48 am

I’m studying for my NASM personal trainer’s certification and this was a perfect little review in blog form! Thanks for covering the basics!

25 Cat @Breakfast to Bed February 7, 2012 at 9:59 am

I am terrible about stretching and foam rolling. I know I need to, but man, it hurts!!

26 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat February 7, 2012 at 10:43 am

Just bought a foam roller… I know I don’t always take enough time to stretch when I’m pressed for time!

27 jobo February 7, 2012 at 11:17 am

Train everything and stretching…both things that I’ve learned this year! You can’t spot train, which I knew, but you can’t just focus on certain areas and not expect other areas to decrease in strength etc, either. And I need to use my foam roller much more than I do, and it’s sitting here staring at me as we speak ;)

28 Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather February 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Great post lady! Tempo is hugely important to me, especially being a body pump instructor I’ve seen the benefit. One area I know I need to focus on more is flexibility. I was just thinking this morning that I need to foam roll again… it’s been too long.

29 tinareale February 7, 2012 at 9:03 pm

I love switching things up with tempo!

30 Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin February 7, 2012 at 12:10 pm

These are some really great tips! I need to get over my fear of planks and do more stabilization exercises. :P

31 Jess @ Blonde Ponytail February 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Tina! I love your site!! As like-minded trainers, I’m hopping on your site daily for resources and new moves!! So happy to meet you through FitFluential!!

I’m using several of your plank modifications for my Abs Blast class tonight!

32 tinareale February 7, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Hope it was a great class! And gotta love the FF family. :)

33 Carol @ Lucky Zucca February 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Great list!! I definitely tend to focus on my favorite areas instead of a total body workout and I need to work on that! Body works class is helping, but when I do my own strength workouts I am really bad about just doing my favorite moves.

34 Cheryl @ eatplayluvblog February 7, 2012 at 12:54 pm

The “recovery” part is the hardest for me. Finding a healthy approach to exercise has been a struggle but I am learning the value of it (from getting injured to feeling exhausted to realizing that if exercise is supposed to make you feel strong you have to find a happy balance with it).

This post was really informative. And I love how it fits in with your site, which just keeps getting better. :)

35 Kris | iheartwellness.com February 7, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Thanks for the fabulous post, girl!! I lack flexibility and stretching…ugh…i hate focusing on them,I just want to do my strength….


36 Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning February 7, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Great tips!! If you have any tips for how to MAKE yourself foam roll on a daily basis, I’m all ears. I know all the benefits and always feel better afterwards- it’s just making myself do it in the first place that seems to be the biggest challenge!
BTW- I couldn’t watch your plank videos at work and finally did over the weekend at home. I LOVE THEM!! I love all of your variations- some of them I had never seen before! You’re a great teacher!

37 tinareale February 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm

I do it while watching tv. It works for me. haha!

38 Lindsay @ FuelMyFamily February 7, 2012 at 4:05 pm

I have to remind myself to stretch. That is a big weakness of mine. I also have to remind myself that a workout is still a workout even if it didn’t include sprinting on a treadmill and ending up a sweaty mess. A nice yoga session is a workout too! I don’t have to remind myself about rest days, my tired legs do that for me!

39 Michelle @ Lipstick and Lunges February 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Love the tips! I have to remind myself to take rest days. I used to go hard all week long and never give my body time to recover. I’ve gotten much better at listening to my muscles and giving them a chance to heal and get stronger! That’s the whole point anyway, right :)
— Michelle

40 [email protected] February 7, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I’ve used a foam roller for the first time, yesterday and today!

41 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats February 7, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I definitely need to do some lower intensity workouts, I think my favorite is going to Bikram! I come out so relaxed!

42 Proform Pete February 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm

These are great workout ideas. This definitively should be seen by everyone because I 100% agree with all of this! And you definitely cant forget to rest and get enough sleep and just push yourself to be the best person you want to be!

43 Paige @ Running Around Normal February 7, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Great tips, Tina! Recovery is huge for me. And not over doing one workout (which i guess has to do with recovery as well!)

44 Liz (Little Bitty Bakes) February 7, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Just when I think I can “save” stretching my calves ’til tomorrow, you go and make me feel guilty ;) (Thanks!)

45 This fit chick February 8, 2012 at 5:43 am

Such great tips! recovery is KEY! Building muscles :)

46 Lori Lynn February 8, 2012 at 8:32 am

It seems when I do more than 1 plank (sometimes 2), that my shoulder’s start tingling, which is partially from having neck/back issues. (I go to the chiropractor pretty regularly.) I know that they are good exercises to do, and would like to do them more.

47 Caitlin February 8, 2012 at 10:03 am

Great post! I have to remind myself about flexibility and rest. Whenever I take a group fitness class, it always ends with stretching, which is a good thing since I don’t often take time to stretch on my own. I kinda need someone telling me to do it! My mind tends to wander and I get bored easily. I’ve been trying to incorporate online yoga vids into my routine twice a week too to get more stretching in.
And I have such a hard time taking rest days. I get so antsy! I’ve been backing off to two yoga days a week that I would call active rest. I need to learn that it’s OK to rest tho!

48 [email protected] February 10, 2012 at 12:35 pm

These certainly are some of the most important tips to keep in mind. When you get on that get-healthy kick, sometimes you can forget that your body needs certain things to remain healthy as you either try to lose weight, or build up your fitness level. I don’t know about anyone else, but I LOVE that it’s vital to include rest days during the week!

49 Health and Fitness May 7, 2013 at 1:42 am

The point which i like is Train Everything. Don’t just focus on Biceps or chest. Try to involve every part of your body

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