4 Tips to Building Muscle Tone and Keeping Up a Solid Workout Routine

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Set realistic goals, grab a workout partner and try not to be so harsh on yourself.

Together with Athleta, we're compiling actionable wellness advice you need from the experts — and Well+Good is bringing it to life at events in NYC. Here, national fitness business director at Exhale Nicole Uribarri weighs in on the starter guide to a strength-building workout routine.

Have you ever found yourself at the gym ready to get your strength on, but not totally sure what to do while you're there (other than feel stronger)?

The key is to set tangible goals for yourself, along with realistic timelines to accomplish them. Start out slow, too. Give yourself a four-week benchmark for establishing a routine, editing where you need to, and creating a habit out of it — all while hopefully enjoying yourself along the way.

To help overcome any dips in motivation, Nicole Uribarri — national fitness business director at Exhale — suggests writing your goals (and the timelines) somewhere you'll see them every day. That way you can try and avoid those help-me-I'm-lost moments after you're laced up and ready in the gym. From there, you can get to the important stuff (re: putting in the work to build up that tone).

Here are four more tips from Uribarri that'll help you build muscle and fine-tune your routine over a few weeks.

All it takes is a few weeks to amp up your workout routine — plus, those endorphins are so worth it.

1. Consult a Coach

Oftentimes, the hardest part is starting out. To show you what to do and to provide you encouragement to hit your fitness milestones, reach out to a trainer or coach. "Many trainers offer a single session to assess your form, provide guidance on how to effectively and efficiently perform moves and lead you through a brief tutorial on how to use gym equipment and props," Uribarri says.

During that first session, take all the notes possible; that way you'll be set to take on the gym with your newfound fitness knowledge. And don't forget: Form is important and you can't train properly if you're injured, says Uribarri.

2. Be Consistent

The first week of workouts tends to feel pretty good — you're in the zone, ready for the unlimited possibilities of your strength. But then comes the wall called lack of motivation. When this strikes, Uribarri says to always go back to your goals. "Start slowly and hold yourself accountable," she says. "Keeping your practice will bring sustainable and long-term results."

3. Don't Forget About Your Diet

To be able to work out at your optimal level, you have to make sure you're eating the right foods that energize you from beginning to end. Uribarri recommends eating high-quality, wholesome ingredients (if it doesn't eventually rot, then it's not real food, she says). That means fitting in some whole grains, fresh veggies and protein onto your plate. Your gym self will thank your in-the-kitchen self.

4. Try Uribarri's Never-Fail Moves

Uribarri says it's vital to create a routine that you actually enjoy, and to help you build one out (in addition to what you learn from a coach or trainer), she has four go-to moves that are sure to light up your muscle groups.

"Plank poses are great, accessible moves for someone new to exercise and looking to build strength," Uribarri says. "They're full-body exercises that improve posture and target your core, back and arms."

She also suggests push-ups, wall sits and abdominal pike-ups — all of which are easy to integrate into any routine. Now all you have to do to build your strength over the next month is develop a gym plan you won't grow tired of, get your form down and remember to have some fun with it.

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