Q: "How do I know that I'm doing the exercises correctly? I'm following the DVD workout, but I'm not seeing the results I expected."
A: If you're doing the exercises correctly and not seeing results there are two possible reasons. One is that your nutrition isn't supporting your goals and that's too big to address here. The other is that your intensity might be insufficient to give your body a reason to change.
When it comes to exercise, the human body is actually quite simple. It's driven by one rule: Stimulus and Response.
Provide a stimulus to the muscles greater than what your body is used to and you get the response of getting stronger/leaner/more fit. If the stimulus isn't there, your body's response is "been there, done that" and it rolls over and goes back to sleep through the workout.
Some questions to ask yourself are below. Your answers to them will likely provide the answers you need to get the results from your workouts.
When you are finished your workout, do you feel like you had a workout?
At the end of a workout, does your body let you know it had a challenge? Do you feel a faint whisper of "Whoa, what was that we just did?" from your body? If all you noticed was that your muscles were moving and then the workout was over, your workout probably is not asking your body for any changes.
Solution: Make the workout harder. Decrease rest between sets, add more sets, add a rep or two, increase the resistance, decrease the stability, or increase the time of your work interval on each exercise. If your workout time is already maxed out then ignore any of the above choices that add significant time to your workout. But change something to make the workout harder.
How do you determine when it's time to stop an exercise?
Do you train for the feeling or for the number? Do you stop just because you completed the target number of reps or the work interval time? Or do you stop because you are tired? Ideally, your muscles get tired in the target rep range or time interval.
Solution: Follow my training mantra: "Train for the feeling, not the number." Add a few reps to each exercise or add 5-10 seconds to your work interval. Before stopping any exercise, ask yourself "Am I really tired enough that I should be stopping now?" If not, do a bit more!
Stop an exercise when you need to stop because you're either too fatigued to continue or your form is completely shot. A minor drop in technique isn't a crisis since in life we often have to move in less than ideal conditions and without perfect form.
Jonathan Ross is a TRX Master Trainer and the 2010 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, Exercise TV's "Best Personal Trainer," Discovery Health National Body Challenge Fitness Expert and one of Men's Journal's Top 100 Personal Trainers in America. He is owner of Aion Fitness (www.AionFitness.com), co-author of Family Fit Plan and Personal Training Director at Sport Fit Total Fitness Club. His unique personal experiences help him create exercise strategies that deliver big results for his clients.