August 6, 2015 at 1:16 pm EDT | by Bucky Mitchell
Back to basics
basics, gay news, Washington Blade

Simple efforts to vary your workout can yield dramatic results.

It seems like every few months a new fitness trend is popping up, ultimately giving us more and more choices, all the while making it hard to navigate the waters when it comes to creating a strong foundational fitness regiment. So here are three simple tips to help you find something that works for you.

Work your primary muscles

Your primary muscles are the muscles in your body that are, generally, the biggest. When worked appropriately, these muscles can either allow you to gain considerable muscle mass or help you lean down depending on your goal. These muscles include your gluts, your lats, your core (transverse and rectus abdominis), and your pectoral muscles. To help get you back to the basics and build a great foundation, I challenge you to do these simple exercises every other day for the next 30 days.

If you’re looking to bulk, start by adding free weights and increase them by five pounds every other day. If you’re looking to tone up and lean down, use your body weight and add more repetitions or more time but don’t increase the weight.


• Four sets of squats for least 10-12 reps starting with 10- or 15-pound dumbbells if you are bulking.

• Four sets of pull-ups (assisted) for at least 10 reps. Eventually migrate to just your body weight and increase your rep count.

• Four sets of planks. Hold each plank for one minute. If the minute becomes easy, add a plate to your back if you are bulking and more time if you are leaning down.

• Four sets of bench chest press for 10 reps starting with 20-pound dumbbells. Increase the weight every other day by five pounds or increase rep count if you are leaning.

Vary your cardio

While I know this simple tip may seem a little easier said then done, once you do it, you will be happy with the results. We are creatures of habit and when it comes to our cardio regiment, we tend to do the same thing over and over again because it’s comfortable and safe. While doing cardio is certainly half the battle, it’s still only half the battle. After about two weeks your body quickly recognizes the pattern you have created for yourself and therefore, you aren’t burning as many calories as you think. Therefore, one the best things you can do is have a good mixture of cardio activity during the week.

Start out by trying a cardio routine that looks like this:

• On Monday, do your regular cardio activity (treadmill, elliptical, etc.) but at add in intervals either by increasing and decreasing your speed every other minute or increasing your incline every other minute.

• On Wednesday, be sure to take a group fitness class where you know the instructor is always changing the routine. The reason I love taking SoulCycle so much is because the ride is never the same.

• On Friday, try adding cardio into your weight-lifting routine. It can be as simple as adding jumping jacks or split jumps between each set.

Fuel your workouts with the right food

Often I have clients who have cramped, thrown up or have become light headed because they didn’t fuel the tank before working out. Therefore, I recommend the following to ensure you get through that next group class or 30 minutes of running on the treadmill.

• Be sure to have some sort of carb before you workout. Yes I said carb. Of course there are good carbs (a banana or sweet potato) or bad carbs (white bread, rice, pasta) but in this case you can have either/or because you will burn those carbs and use them a source of energy to sustain your workout.

• Eat more veggies. Whether it’s kale, spinach, beets, onions, sprouts, etc., veggies are a natural energy booster because they are packed with vitamins and minerals that help clear toxins and free radicals in your body.

• Last but not least, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The last thing you need during a workout is to cramp up. Therefore, I suggest having at least 16 ounces of water before hitting the gym, especially during these humid summer months.

My next cooking classes “Couples Cooking: Summer Healthy Favorites II” is Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 1 p.m. Register at

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