1. Don't Starve - Watching your calories is good, starving yourself and skipping meals actually works against
you. When you skip meals or reduce your calorie intake too low, your body thinks you're starving and goes into
"survival mode." It actually lowers your metabolism so that you burn less calories. Instead, plan on increasing
exercise and reducing caloric intake so that you have a daily "calorie deficit" of 500-1000 calories. At this rate,
you should lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week. The American Dietetic Association and American College of
Sports Medicine consider this level optimal for long term weight loss.
2. Don't Do Just Cardio - Aerobic exercise is great for burning calories while you're doing them and for a
short time later. Strength training has the added advantage of building lean muscle - which means your
metabolism increases and you burn more calories ALL DAY LONG! Ideally, do a combination of both for
3. Skip the Small Muscle Exercises - The larger the muscle, the more calories it will burn when you exercise.
Legs, Back and Chest exercises give you the most bang for the buck, while small muscles like shoulders,
arms and calves burn very few calories. Multi-joint exercises like those shown on the chart below give you
the biggest bang for the buck, and can hit smaller muscles in the process.
Skip These Small Muscle Exercises
Emphasize Big Muscles/Multi-Joint Exercises
Biceps, Triceps, Shoulder Press, Shoulder Lateral
and Front Raises, Calf Raises
Squats, Lunges, Pushups, Pullups, Chest Press, Rows,
Lat Pulldowns, Hamstring Curls
4. Cut the Down Time- Organize your strength workout into circuits so that you get more training volume
and keep your heart rate up by reducing idle time between sets. Examples of circuits include
lunge/pushup/pullup with no rest in between and chest press/row/squat. I've got some circuit training programs
on my website at programs.caryraffle.com.
5. Don't Go in Without a Plan - It is proven that having a plan and schedule lead to better results. Where,
when, how often will you exercise and what will you do in every exercise session? Base your plan on goals
that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
6. Don't Get Hurt - Overtraining, inappropriate exercise selection, and poor setup technique can lead to an
injury that derails your program - or worse. Give each muscle group a day off between strength training
sessions. Identify problem exercises for you with the mini-self assessment on my website
trainercary.com/fitness-assessment. Be careful with technique in getting in setting up weights or getting in and
out of machines. It is easy to get hurt grabbing for a weight in the wrong way or squirming in and out of a
machine without adjusting it properly. If you've had a long break or are new to exercise, check with your
If you need help getting a safe, appropriate, efficient and effective program off the ground, I can usually get
someone on routine in as few as five sessions.