Keys to Exercise Success

by Dr. Jim Hendricks, Freeport Integrated Health Center, Freeport, Maine

Dr. Jim HendricksI put the following guidelines together after many years of weight training and athletics. I found considerable success following these guidelines and use them when prescribing exercise for patients. No matter how serious you are in regard to your training, remember that exercise and physical fitness are an important part of maintaining over-all health. For example, last year the US government recommended that every person perform 90 minutes of physical activity each day. The important thing to remember is any exercise is better than none at all. Start out slowly, with easily attainable goals and increase the amount and the intensity of exercise as you improve. The following guidelines should give a good base from where to start.




The Keys:

1. Genetics

2. Commitment

3. Intensity

4. Consistency

5. Nutrition and Water Intake

6. Rest

Genetic is the only one of the above factors that you cannot control. You are what you are, but determining your body type can enhance the way you train. The three general body types are the following:

Characteristics: fast metabolism, thin, low body mass, lean (low body fat percentage) and generally has trouble putting on any kind of weight.

Characteristics: medium level of metabolism, hard/muscular looking, can gain or lose weight easily and is naturally strong.

Characteristics: slow metabolism, large/wide bone structure, soft looking body, gains weight or muscle easily but has trouble losing fat.

These body types are not absolute. Most people are not usually totally all one pure body type but a mix. Knowing your body type can improve how you train and determine what exercise will help you succeed. .

The first thing to be done prior starting an exercise program is to establish goals. Your goals will determine the focus of your training and give you something to work toward. It is important to realize your goals and commitment yourself to reaching them. The goals you choose will dictate what type of training program that you should perform and how you will train. Commit to the goals first then commit to the exercise. That means sticking to you training routine and working hard to reach your goal.

The gym is a place to work and work hard, not a place to “lounge around,” or socialize. I realize that for many people, the gym is used as a social outlet, that’s ok. However, get the work done first then work on your social life. My theory is that anything less than 110% is a waste of time. It is important to maximize the time that you spend in the gym and not waste time in between sets or exercises. While rest is good in between sets, too much rest can cause your heart rate to decrease, circulation to slow down, the muscles get “cold” and this decreases the overall “training effect.” This can lead to not only injury but has a negative effect on your training and will not allow you to reach your full potential.

I think that the most common complaint that I hear from patients about exercise is this: “I work out, but I really don’t see the results I want.” This I find is most commonly caused from inconsistent training. Exercise is like anything in this world, “practice makes perfect.” How successful would you be at your job if you only worked once in while or with your children it you only parented occasionally? It is important to be consistent and stick to your exercise program. With inconsistent exercise, the gains that you achieve one week will be lost the next week with out maintaining your training.

Nutrition and water are vital to achieve success in exercise and maintaining overall health. It is essential to have an eating plan and follow it. It is also imperative that you maintain adequate water balance with in your body. I would advise that if you have questions about your current diet or are interested in developing a nutritional program that will promote your exercise goals to seek out a qualified professional to get some help.

Believe it or not you are not building muscle on your training days. Muscle is built when you are resting. When you are resting or sleeping your body takes this time to repair itself and store energy. Without the proper rest, your body can become prone to injury, muscle breakdown and susceptible to disease because you immune response is decreased. As a rule of thumb, the typical person needs any where from 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

Well, there you have it, all you need to be success at the gym! What you choose to do with the information I have given you is up to you. It know I have really just tipped the iceberg here, but I hope that it gives you some of the basic concepts upon which to build on. In closing, I will leave you with this quote, “If you are not giving it your best effort, then the only person you are cheating is yourself!”

Dr. Jim Hendricks is a doctor of chiropractic at Freeport Integrated Health Center in Freeport. His undergraduate education is in Sports Medicine and he is Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach. For more information go to


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