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At Infinity Fitness in Darien, CT where I personal train and nutrition coach, I'm leading a team of 15 women in body transformation competition.

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Feature Article

"Promoting Real Women" Interview with Linda Stephens, Figure Competitor, Fitness Coach

This interview skillfully uncovers many of the secrets behind Linda Stephens' amazing figure competition success. More...




4 Simple Tips for a Quality Workout




The following seasonal fitness column is from Linda Stephens, NASM, CPR/AED Certified Personal Trainer, who runs a gym in town. Stephens is a local fitness instructor, weight management consultant, and NPC Amateur National Figure competitor.

Four Simple Tips for a Quality Workout

As a nutritionist and personal trainer, one question I get a lot from new clients and members is: “I’m not sure how to start my workout and what to bring to the gym.”

Most wonder if they should stretch before or after their workout and which stretches are best.

I’ve tried to be concise and to the point below as to how everyone can get the most from their individual workouts.

Tip 1 Drink Plenty of Water

Given that our bodies are made up of about 60% water we need to make sure we are consuming enough especially before, during and after exercise.

Just a 5% drop in body water will cause up to a 30% loss of energy in the average person.

If you wait until you are thirsty to drink water your body is already on its way to a dehydration state.

During exercise you’re losing water through your breathing and sweating mechanisms. This makes it extremely important to hydrate constantly with water especially if you’re outside in the heat.

You may need to take in even more than when in the gym.

According to the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM), you should consume about 20-40 ounces of water for every hour of exercise. So, bottoms up. Also, make sure you’re drinking water from a BPA free bottle. Try to avoid bottled water at all costs for yourself and especially your children.

Tip 2 Self-Myofacial Release or Foam Rolling

One type of important stretching before a workout is called self-myofacial release or foam rolling.

It focuses on the fibrous tissue that surrounds the muscles.

It works great on muscles that are tight or when you have trigger points that are causing specific pain within a muscle group. It helps to relax and loosen the muscle in order for the circulation to get through the muscle fibers.

Muscles can be rolled both before and after a workout. Muscle groups that should be targeted are the quadriceps, gluteus maximus and the inner and outer thigh area. Also, roll the left and right sides of your back up into the back of your shoulder/scapula area.

Foam rolling should definitely be done after a strenuous workout in order to prevent tightness and stiffness later on.

Most importantly, when you find a spot that’s sensitive let all your weight sink into the roller as you wait for the trigger point to loosen up.

While foam rolling may not always feel pleasant, especially if you’re sore know that the benefits far outweigh any discomfort you might experience.




4 Simple Tips for a Quality Workout (cont.)



Tip 3 Warm Up Set

After you have your water bottle all ready and you’ve done your stretching and foam rolling you now need to get into your workout.

The warm up set is equally important to the other two steps I mentioned above. Before you start pressing or squatting you need to let your body know what’s expected of it. Always take a lightweight and perform 15 to 20 reps of the first exercise you’re going to do.

This preps your muscles to work.

What you don’t want to do is pick up a heavy weight right away and risk pulling or straining a muscle.

After you perform one or two warm up sets, go up in weight a bit more and do another heavier warm up set.

Prime your muscles, get them warm and when you feel ready, hit it hard.

This strategy should help keep you injury free.

If during your warm up set a muscle hurts or feels tight, go back to the foam roller and try to roll it out. Then, go back to your set and see if it feels better.

If not, listen to your body and try another movement that doesn’t cause pain. You never want to work through pain that will set you up for an injury down the road.

Tip 4 Quality Protein Supplement

After your workout, you’ll need to replenish all the nutrients you used up. According to the NASM, “one reason to ingest supplemental protein is to quickly get amino acids into the blood after exercise.”

This helps the anabolic hormones focus on building muscle instead of repair after anaerobic or aerobic exercise.

The school of thought is to consume a quality protein supplement (usually whey) within 20-30 minutes after your workout. Personally, I say the sooner the better. I keep my shaker cup with the measured amount in my gym bag.

I add water, shake and down the hatch. It makes me feel energized and strong.

While there are many types of protein powders on the shelf, I suggest you sample some different brands and flavors.

Look at the labels and notice the protein amounts in a serving; 20-25 grams in a serving should be fine.

Also, look for a whey protein isolate. This will be easier to absorb/digest and shouldn’t cause any bloating or gas pain.

Of course, keep drinking water from your BPA free bottle all day long too.

I hope that this provides some helpful tips. As always, it’s my passion to help people reach their goals from a health and fitness perspective.

Feel free to email me at or visit me at Infinity Fitness Gym and please be sure to watch my website for new health and fitness tips at

Linda M. Stephens
M.S. Clinical Nutritionist
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
NPC National Figure Competitor


View this article as it appeared in the Darien Times.