Muscle Conditioning Exercises YOU Should Be Doing

We all know that muscle conditioning is an essential part of staying fit, but which muscle conditioning exercises should YOU specifically be doing?

There are literally hundreds of different exercises and thousands of variations you could perform to get the results you are looking for.  So how do you know which ones are right for you?  Here are a few guidelines to follow when designing your resistance training program.

Start with basic exercises

When you are starting a resistance training program, it is necessary to progress from exercises that require the least amount of skill, coordination, balance, and overall fitness to exercises that maximally challenge these skills.  This means that in the beginning, very basic exercises will do the trick.  As you improve and master the technique of these exercises, then you should advance the program by incorporating more challenging exercises. 


For example, when performing a chest press, you may start on a machine that has a back support so that all you have to think about is just pushing the bar.  As you master this skill and your muscle conditioning improves, then you can try performing the exercise on your back with hand-weights instead.  Now, you have to think about balancing the hand-weights which adds a new dimension to the movement.  Once you have mastered this skill with good technique, you can then progress to performing the exercise laying over an exercise ball instead of on a bench.  Now, not only do you have to think about the hand-weights, you also have to consider that you are now lying on a moveable object which will add a further challenge to the exercise.  You can follow this type of


progression for any exercise.  Every 4-8 weeks try to add a new challenge to any exercise that you are performing.  But it is always important that you follow the appropriate gradual progression.  You definitely do not want to attempt more challenging exercises without having first developed the basic foundation for the skill.

Change your program regularly. 

The only perfect resistance program is one that changes. 

A program that we design today, may be perfect today, but in about 4-8 weeks, it will no longer be as effective. We know that the body needs to be challenged in order to progress.  A plateau will occur once the body adapts to any program.  If continued results are desired, the program will need to be changed every 4-8 weeks in order to constantly challenge the body and force it to respond in a positive fashion.  You can change your program in a variety of different ways.  You can change the resistance you lift, the exercises you perform, the order in which you perform the exercises, the number of sets or reps you lift, the amount of recovery time you take between exercises, the number of days you workout each week etc.

There are so many different types of exercises and variables that you can manipulate that this is where an investment in a personal trainer may save you a lot of time.  It is not necessary for you to spend a fortune on consulting with their expertise.  Even just one or two sessions every one to two months so they can design a program that you follow on your own will go a long way in maximizing your workout time and provide the changes required for you to see continued results.  IDEA, the International Health and Fitness Source, released a statistic at one of their International conferences.  It stated that only 25 percent of people working out in a gym are getting the results they want.  But out of the 25 percent of people getting results, 90 percent of them are working with a personal trainer.  So, it is quite clear that having a personal coach to look after your progress and update your program regularly is an investment in your health worth making!

Incorporate Staple Movements: 

There are some movements that I would consider most beneficial for most people.  I would want to include squats, lunges, bridging, pulls/rows, presses, and core training movements like planks, back extensions, v-sits etc.

Many physiologists believe that Strength Training is the true fountain of youth. So invest 2-3 workouts per week to challenge your muscles and you will see improvements to your muscle strength and endurance, body toning, bone density, metabolism, posture and more!

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for over 20 years and has received numerous industry awards including International Personal Trainer and Fitness Presenter of the Year. She is the author of five books including “Go For Fit – the Winning Way to Fat Loss” and “Fit over Forty” and is the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs.  She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver and can be seen running, hiking or cycling with her two children, Brianna and Jackson.  She can be reached at or Note:  As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started.  Contact 360.574.7292 for more details.  

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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