Everyday it seems like there is a new trend in the seemingly daunting task of weight loss. There’s always a new diet, new exercise program, or some type of ‘lose 20 lbs in 20 days’ weight loss system –all ‘guaranteed’to work but most likely to fail. Even for people that have committed themselves to realistic exercising and dieting, maintaining weight loss and fitness goals can be a very daunting long term task. Often people lose steam when they don’t see the results they want quickly. As a personal trainer for many years, it’s my job to make sure my clients are successful. Here are my top five fitness guidelines for achieving your fitness goals:

Incorporate Body Weight Exercises In Your Cardio Routine. I can’t tell you how many people I see spend 2 hours on the treadmill or elliptical and then leave the gym feeling a sense of accomplishment. Yes, it’s great that you just ran 4 miles and burned 600 calories, but once your heart rate goes back to normal so does your metabolism. As a result as soon as you eat, the calories you just burned have now returned. The key to maximizing the total calories you burn is to continue burning calories well after you exercise. To do so, you have to increase your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate). By incorporating simple body weight exercises like Squats, Lunges, Push-Ups and Pull-Ups, you are burning more calories for longer periods throughout the day.

Don’t Be Afraid to Add A Little Resistance. Resistance training can be done in multiple ways; body weight, resistance tubes/bands, or weights. The key is to train within the parameters you’ve set for your weight/fitness goal, while gradually increasing the resistance over time (my recommendation is every 2-4 weeks). For example, to add some additional resistance to your squats, hold a 10lb dumbbell in each hand, keeping your arms down at your sides and perform your squats. The dumbbells account for an extra 20lbs of added resistance, causing your legs to work harder while performing the exercise. When losing weight your goal should not only be to decrease your body fat percentage, but to replace that fat with muscle. Without stronger muscles you may be on your way to an injury and not even know it. How does 2 hours on the treadmill sound now?

Discover Interval Training. Interval training is one of the most effective “heart healthy” exercise methods. It involves periods of high intensity exercises coupled with periods of low intensity exercises, completed at different time intervals (Hence the name). You can do a variety of exercises for Interval Training, for example; if you’re using the treadmill, set the speed to about 3.0 for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to 7.5 for 30 seconds and repeat for 10 minutes straight. Then move on to something else, using the same intensity and time interval methods. The benefits of Interval Training include an increase in cardiovascular effectiveness as well as lactate threshold enhancement (when your muscles begin to fatigue due to lactic acid build-up in your muscles). It allows you to push your body from an aerobic state to an anaerobic state, while providing just enough recovery time for muscular and cardiovascular development.

Shock Your Body To Avoid a Plateau. The worst thing you can do in your exercise regimen is to do the same thing over and over. This is of utmost importance in any exercise regimen if you want results. The harsh reality about the human body is that it’s stubborn. It doesn’t feel the need to change once it has become accustomed to its current state. In order for you to avoid the dreaded ‘plateau’, you have to switch it up and shock your body into changing. For example, in addition to your traditional routine, incorporate one minute of air squats followed by a 30 second interval of burpees. My personal rule of thumb is to change your exercises every 4-6 weeks. Even if you do some of the same exercises, do them in a different order; do something different to shake things up a little bit.

Rest. This is the most neglected and misunderstood step in a successful workout plan. You need to rest! There’s no other way to say it. Your body does all of its work when you are resting. When you’re sick, your doctor says “take this medicine and get some rest”. The same rules apply. You’re actually tearing down your muscles in the gym and your body is rebuilding those muscles while you’re asleep. The rule of thumb is to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep per night and never work the same body part more than once in a 48 hour period, with the exception of your abs (you can work abs every other day). It doesn’t matter how much you work out, or how many hours you spend in the gym. You’ll never accomplish your health/fitness goal if you don’t spend enough time resting and recovering.

Follow these 5 simple steps and and watch your body change. Indulge in the idea of becoming healthier; Bask in the glory of your amazing flat stomach or take a walk on the beach and be confident, knowing that people are looking at you in complete admiration. The way your body looks is a reflection of how you treat it. Treat it like a rock, it’ll have no appeal; treat it like a diamond and it’ll be unforgettable.

Quentin Vennie is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer specializing in weight loss, weight management, strength/conditioning and mass building. He started training his family and friends for the love of it until his work took on a life of its own. Only a few months after acquiring his certification, he started his own Personal Training Company, Life-Fx Training  LLC. and has been transforming lives ever since. Quentin is in the process of opening the first Life-Fx Training Studio in Baltimore, MD. and continues to participate in speaking engagements, conferences, and health fairs, spreading the word on the importance of health and fitness.