Working out can hurt you almost as much as it can help.  With this quick list, you can turn your hum drum work out session into a great one!

1. MIX IT UP: Change your training program frequently and avoid doing the same workout, over and over again.  Change the exercises, volume, intensity, repetitions, and rest periods – weekly or monthly.  Always doing the same old routine causes your body to adapt to it, therefore there will be no changes and causes stagnation.

2. SET FITNESS GOALS: Be sure your fitness goals take into account all of these aspects: structural needs, functional needs, metabolic concerns, flexibility, working with an injury, sport specific goals, and of course personal goals.

3. CHECK YOUR POSTURE: Have a posture assessment, so you can focus on areas to improve upon for correct spinal alignment, shoulder, knee, head positioning, structural scoliosis, and functional scoliosis.

4. DIVERSIFY: Include all of the following aspects of fitness for a more effective and balanced program: Aerobic endurance, Anaerobic endurance, muscular strength, muscular power, proprioception, and flexibility.

5. GO FASTER & SLOWER: For greater strength gains perform slow eccentric (negative) and fast (positive) motions to innervate more type II muscle fibers.

6. TEST YOURSELF: Before you start plyometric exercises, the following guidelines should be met to be certain you have strength and speed to do so:

1) Be able to squat at least 1.5 times your body weight with impeccable form to reduce the risk of injury, and be able to perform five repetitions of the squat with 60% of body weight in 5 seconds or less.

2) For upper body plyometrics you should be able to bench press 1x the body weight for individuals weighing over 220 lbs, and 1.5x body weight for those under 220 lbs.  You should also be able to perform 5 repetitions of the bench press with 60% of body weight in 5 seconds or less.

7. COMPOUND YOUR INTEREST: The majority of your strength training exercises should be compound in nature, focusing on multi-joint movements and focusing on core strength.

8. TO BELT OR NOT TO BELT: Weight belts should only be used for high intensity lifts, power lifts, and lifting maximal loads. When a belt is used, the abdominal muscles and muscles in lower back can relax, and this will promote the detraining of stabilizer muscles and may contribute to their weakness and may therefore be detrimental rather than beneficial.

9. MECHANICS: Learn proper lifting mechanics from a professional such as a NSCA Strength and Conditioning Coach (CSCS), or NSCA, CPT – not your friend who lifts weights and thinks they are now a professional weight lifter just because they go to the gym.

10. IF YOU DON’T KNOW, WE CAN HELP: Understand the Five Point Contact principle and how it is applied to most supine and seated exercises with the Los Angeles personal trainers at BioMechanix Strength and Conditioning Clinic.

Jon Torerk, CSCS