5 Tips for Smarter Workouts: Avoid Injuries Due To New Years Resolutions!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

On the 1st of January you are full of good intentions and New Years resolutions, which often revolve around getting into better shape … however a 0-100 mph start after a relaxed Christmas (season) often results in physical and mental overload and injury come February. There are smarter ways to do it.

It is a classic mistake to do too much, when you start exercising. No matter if it is running, spinning, strength training or other forms, and whether you are a trained exerciser getting back after a holiday break og injury or you are a total beginner, who wants to get into shape right NOW e.g. because of New Years Resolutions.

Here is a handful of free personal training tips for 1) avoiding overdoing it and injuring yourself and 2) getting better and faster results.


5 Tips for Better Workouts This Year

1. Start and increase effort gradually. Increase volume (weight, distance) by max. 2,5-10 % per week. Not a lot, but you have to give your body a chance to adapt.

2. Train regularly and stick to it – no matter what. If possible Work out 3-4 times (up to 6 times) per week. However, less is o.k. when starting out and 1-2 times a week is a lot better than nothing and fine for maintaining fitness, if you are pressed for time.
The most important thing is stick with your healthy and rewarding new habit.

3. Enjoy variety, mix and match cardio, strength, neuromotor and mobility exercises in your programme. It is more fun and an all-round good shape improves performance in all sports and function in everyday life.

4. Train smart; e.g. get help to design a time-efficient functional training program.
Far too many people Waste precious time with poor programs and exercises; avoid that and get better results faster.

5. Listen to your body; during the workout and afterwards. It is o.k. if it feels hard and challenging, but pain or irritation is a warning signal. Go for a feeling of ‘smiling’ and ‘ease of movements’, it is a better and more fun way of working out.

In the days after you should feel more energetic. If you feel tired and moody, it may be a sign of over-training and the training program should be re-designed.

Note: DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness, which is often felt in your muscles 2-4 days after hard, different or eccentric training, is normal and only natural (a good sign of you body recovering after beneficial training).

Enjoy your workout – at home, at the gym or on the travel.

Fitness Music: Top 10 Exercise Music and Ultimate Workout Playlist

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

At home, at the gym or on the move: Music moves you. Music increases motivation. Music increases performance.
On that note: Spotify, a digital music service, has investigated the top workout sounds globally and for Denmark, Scandinavia, and presents the Spotify Top 10 DK list, check it out for inspiration, and their Ultimate Workout Playlist with tips for better workout music to ensure maximal training

iPhone løbMusic and workouts go hand in hand. “Jogging with our iPhones” by Ed Yourdon.

In this article Spotify, a global music service with over 20 million songs, about music, tempo and workout music, provides a Top 10 and a Ultimate Workout playlist.
I have added time, duration, my comment and links, so you can see the video, hear the music and make your own selection.

According to my own b r o a d taste in music: Almost all of these Top 10 list songs are fairly easy listening, popular music, for a wide audience (apart from some of the lyrics!) and several kinds of workouts … aka mainstream music (rock is missing).
The Ultimate Workout list is more special and diverse with both hot and not songs.

Top 10 Workout Tracks DK

1. Pitbull: “Timber”   3:35   130 BPM   Dance pop music, nice drive   ♥♥♥♥♥

2. Eminem: “The Monster”   5:19   110 BPM   Pop melodic hiphop   ♥♥♥♥♥

3. Contiez, Djuro Remix: “Trumpsta”   4:20   128 BPM   Monotonous electro  ♥♥♥♥♥

4. Jason Derulo (ft 2 Chainz): “Talk Dirty”  3:08  100 BPM  Ethnic poprap  ♥♥♥♥♥

5. Avicii: “Wake me up”   4:33   124 BPM   Dynamic dance pop country   ♥♥♥♥♥

6. Avicii: “Hey Brother”   4:19   125 BPM   Popular music pop country   ♥♥♥♥♥

7. Eminem: “Till I Collapse”   5:09   86 BPM    Insistent mm hiphop     ♥♥♥♥♥

8. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft RD: “Can’t hold us”  6:14  146 BPM  Pop/rap ♥♥♥♥

9. Martin Garrix: “Animals” (original)   3:12   128 BPM   Heavy/light electronica   ♥♥♥♥

10. Fort Minor: “Remember the Name”   3:49  85 BPM  Melodic hiphoppop   ♥♥♥♥♥

Training and music tempo

To optimize your workouts, it is preferable to choose music, that matches the kind of training you do. Check out (listen to) the number of beats per minute, BPM.
Check this by Googling the song followed by bpm (look for dj sites) or by clapping the base rhythm and counting every clap for a full minute.

BPM recommendations according to Spotify [my comments]:

Yoga : 60-80 BPM [or below, new age music without a beat]
Running, warm-up : 100 BPM [for a walk, above that for jogging warm-ups] Running : 120 og 180, mange løber bedst ca. 125 BPM [faster tempos are better] Spinning, warm-up : 120-130 BPM
Spinning, sprint : 180-190 BPM [music tempo (maybe), not cadence!]
Aerobics and other fast cardio workouts : 130-150 BPM [above 140 is better]

Find your own rhythm

You can find your own rhythm, movement speed, and the appropriote music (tempo) by counting how many movements or steps you do for a full minute. For running check this link: Run 2 Rhythm.

Globally Macklemore and Ryan Lewis top the list

Spotify has analyzed 6.7 million play lists and identified our favourite workout songs at the gym. Globally Macklemore and Ryan Lewis is number 1 with “Can’t Hold Us” followed by “Wake Me Up” by Avicii, “Till I Collapse” by Eminem and “Don’t You Worry Child” by Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin.

Music and motivation

To get you going, get started working out, Spotify has worked together with Music in Exercise and Sport Group at Brunel University, London, to present the ultimate workout playlist. The list is based on songs with global popularity and songs, which are proven [yes, music with a certain speed and style improves performance] to make you berform better, due to their number of BPM, style and lyrics [mmmhhh, some of them…].

Professor Costas Karageorghis of the School of Sport & Education at Brunel University, tells: ”When you synkronize your movements to the music BPM, you also increase the intensity of your workout by increasing the effort by one or two BPM above normal capacity. This means, that you increase your work and as a result your fitness level over time, but the difference is so small, you will hardly notice.” 

The Spotify playlist is developed to match a workout with popular songs, first warm-up, then high intensity- [cardio] and strength training and finally cooldown music. It is meant to boost your motivation to last past the first weeks of january!

The playlist includes both motivating and less motivating songs, according to personal preference, so to get your own ultimate playlist, you may need to adjust it (I will).
The chosen songs are primarily for general fitness exercise and not for high-intensity interval training og heavy resistance training.
The cool-cown song must be missing, if it were meant to be last, because cool-down music should be slower than the rest … and < 100 BPM (or no beat) is best.

Spotify: Ultimate Workout Playlist

1. Katy Perry: “Roar”   4:30   90 BPM   [… not for my warm-up/list]

2. Jason Derulo (feat 2 Chainz): “Talk Dirty”   3:08   100 BPM   [o.k., nice ‘trumpets’]

3. Rizzle Kicks: “Skip To The Good Bit”   4:05   105 BPM   [Fun, interesting]

4. Daft Punk ft. Pharrel Williams: “Get Lucky”  4:08 116 BPM  [… for workouts?]

5. Little Mix: “Move”   3:44   112 BPM   [o.k. interesting, but for workouts?]

6. Duke Dumont ft. AME: “Need U 100%”   3:11   124 BPM   [Still great!]

7. Avicii: “You Make Me”   4:00   124 BPM   [yes! earlier hits better for workouts]

8. Viralites: “Feel My Rhythm”    3:35   125 BPM   [nope; (and hardsell video)]

9. Pitbull: “Timber”   3:35   130 BPM   [slow start, but nice partypop/rhythm]

9. Martin Garrix: “Animals” (original)   3:12   128 BPM   [super start, o.k./good]

10. Lady Gaga: “Applause”   140 BPM   [(nice style/look), music o.k.]

Do you have input or tips for workout music or even a top 10? Your comments are always welcome.

Express Fitness # 1: Interval Training For Travel or Home

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Stay fit and healthy without wasting time. Even if you are travelling, on holiday or have a busy life with little time for exercising, you need to take care of your health, the foundation of fitness, wellness and performance. The good news is, that you can have great results with minimal time investment. The number one option is:

  • Interval training (yes, it’s for you, no, it’s not just for athletes)

Interval running for travel fitness or home fitness

Interval running on the Zaton Holiday Resort, Croatia, (soft) running track. Nice .

Interval training
As the saying goes: With interval training you will double your results in half the time!
Or something to that effect …
The definition: A series of repetitions of a work period (higher intensity) followed by a rest period (low intensity).

The (active) rest periods are crucial to succes; you need to recover in order to put just as much energy into the next work period: So no push-ups etc. during rest periods, that is not interval training. 

More and more recent research points to interval training for just 3-4 minutes per time/week as enough for becoming healthy and fit and even loose weight.
In reality, though, this is too little, as you need 1) a warm-up and cool-down and 2) to train at higher intensities, than most will be able to, to get the mentioned results.

Interval training is, however, the number one way to get fit fast for everybody. Interval training is not just very high intensity training. It is interval work at intensities higher than during continuus exercise. This means, that exercising just a little harder than you normally do will work!
Of course, if you are in shape, you should work at high intensity to get even better results.

There are numerous ways to do interval training and it can be tailor-made to meet specific needs. You can have short intervals or long intervals or fartlek, various speeds and intensities. All intervals, though, will improve your cardiovascular fitness and body composition.

If you are new to interval training try these super-easy sample programs:

  • 5 repetitions: 1 : 1 min., e.g. jog for 1 minute, walk for 1 min.: 10 min. ex. warm-up.
  • 10 repetitions: 30 : 30 sec., e.g. jog for 30 sec., walk 30 sec.: 10 min. ex. warm-up.


  • From lamppost/tree to lamppost/tree: Run/jog/powerwalk as fast as you can.
    Then walk, focus on breathing, to the next lamppost/tree. Repeat 5-20 times.

Try it. What do you think?

Habit Change: Fitness And Wellness: Start Now With These 3 Steps.

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Habit change is not all that easy, because your habits of the last 10-20 years do not just disappear in 1-2 weeks. With the right strategy, however, it is possible to:

  • Build healthy habits that last
  • Maximize wellness and life quality
  • Perform and feel better
  • Get fit (in and out of the gym)
  • Lose or maintain weight with a smile 

Healthy habit tips for fitness and wellness

The key to success is keeping it simple. For starters do just 3 things :

  • Start now, don’t wait. Make a deal with yourself: Today is the day: Start by making one (small) change, just one habit change at a time, and stay on track.
  • Prepare (keep all temptations out of the way, make healthy choices easier).
  • Take one step at a time, make small increment changes – these will last.

Go ahead. Do it now.
More tips will follow.

Stretching: Should You Stretch? Would You Like To Feel And Perform Better?!

Hamstring stretch

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Is it really necessary to stretch? Yes. Over time your muscles will shorten due to muscle action during exercise and every day activities.
That means, that the muscles become tighter and reduce your range of motion.

American College of Sports Medicine recommends, that you stretch two to three times a week, or more (ACSM, 2011).

Many people do not stretch, because they think stretching does not work. This notion is typically based on by articles with misinterpretations of research.
Many newspaper and magazine articles have had headlines and fact boxes with text, which can easily lead exercisers to believe, that stretching is irrelevant. This is not so.

The myths about stretching are also keeping quite a few from stretching. A.o. 1) no pain, no gain, 2) stretch a lot to make it work and 3) all major muscles should be stretched.

In reality, most people can have a positive effect by doing just a few, pleasant and short stretches. Because often it is not necessary to stretch all that much. Generally it is not a good thing to be too flexible; your body needs to be strong and stable.
However, strength is not of much use, if you lack mobility.
So a certain amount of stretching is recommended, e.g.:
2-3 times per week, 10-30 seconds per stretch, 2-4 repetitions.

Focus on the tight muscles, typically calves, hamstrings, hip flexors and chest muscles.

The method and duration of your stretch can vary, it all depends on your purpose and your health and fitness status.

There are many good reasons, purposes, for stretching:


  • In warm-ups to prepare the muscles for load and end-ranges of motion, which may occur during the activity. For warm-ups: Active dynamic stretching is preferred.
  • In cool-downs for better recovery and injury prevention “Slow, controlled stretches makes it easier for muscle cells and tendons to keep even tension, which is of importance for local injury later on in a period” (Michalsik, Bangsbo, 2002).
    For (the end of) cool-downs passive static stretching is preferred.
  • Improve performance; improve muscle efficiency related to accelleration via greater stiffness; obtained by slow, even stretches (Boysen-Møller, 1998) and prevent tightness, so performance in sport and every day life over time is improved (indirectly).
  • Improve general mobility; the ability to use the optimal joint range of motion, ROM, so every day movements are easier.
  • Improve sports-specific mobility. The stretches should be selected specifically according to the demands of the sport and the health and fitness of the athlete.
  • Prevent injury. A great number of injuries cannot be prevented by stretching, but some can …
    Here and now: Prevent muscle strains: “There is evidence that pre-participation stretching reduces the incidence of muscle strains …” (McHugh MP, Cosgrave CH, 2010).
    Over time: Reduce difference between passive and active range of motion, so there is less of a risc of strains during sports activities.
  • Treatment of injury – professional treatment, e.g. physiotherapy (not on your own).
  • Improve health and wellness. Stretching facilitates mental and physical relaxation – with the right stretching – and can, together with breathing exercises, reduce stress and lower the blood pressure.
    Increased mobility can reduce the risk of tight muscles causing back problems.

Click on this link for an easy health and wellness stretching program (3 min.).

Use stretching sensibly for your purpose and needs and forget about the myths and misinformation about stretching.
Stretching works and is good for you, when you choose the right stretches and methods.
Enjoy your stretching!


Alter, MJA (1996). Science of Flexibility, 2nd Edition. Human Kinetics.Behm DG, Chaouachi A (2011). A review of the acute effects of static and dynamic stretching on performance. Eur J Appl Physiol.
Boysen-Møller F (1998). Stræk og udspænding – sådan er effekten. Puls. Garber et al., ACSM (2011). Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. Vol 43. 1334-1359.
Holt LE, Pelham TW, Holt, J (2008). Flexibility: A Concise Guide To Conditioning, Performance Enhancement, Injury Prevention, and Rehabilitation. Humana Press.
McHugh MP, Cosgrave CH (2010). To stretch or not to stretch: the role of stretching in injury prevention and performance. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 Apr;20(2):169-81.
Michalsik L, Bangsbo J (2002). Aerob og anaerob træning. DIF.

No Time For Exercise? Microtraining Workout!

SpringtræningJumping is healthy (after basic training)
(Photo: Ski Fitness. Model: Kim Holmes)

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

“No time for exercise” is a   r e a l l y   p o o r   excuse. It is like this, “those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness” (Edward Stanley, Earl of Derby, 1826-93). And:
Lack of physical activity will result in a poorer performance physically and mentally.

More often than not; if your (exercise) activity is interesting enough, you will find time!
Also it is possible for untrained as well as trained individuals to obtain a notable training effect even with very short workouts, as long as the program has the right design; a suitable level according to your health and fitness.

If one day you believe, you have no time for exercising, then exercise for 5-10 minutes, it is far better than 0 minutes! You can maintain your current fitness level and your body loves every minute of your workout.

In the military they use 5-15 minute micro workouts on busy days with no time for regular ‘full-sized’ workouts. Even ‘everyday-warriors’ can  ‘microtrain’ and get ‘macro-results’ with cardio and strength training combined in ‘mini’ CrossFit look-alike programs (high-intensity basic training).

Microtraining can be performed in your everyday clothes (though not optimal) and everywhere, indoors and outdoors, and whenever, as it is primarily bodyweight training.
Of course you can also use nature, furniture or equipment for program variation. And you can perform either one, two or three rounds, series, of the exercises.

For maximum results the microtraining should be relatively intense, so often this means sprinting, leaping or jumping, which also functions as agility training.

Note: The higher intensity, the greater the effect, however, at the same time the risk of injury increases; train with concentration og muscular control. Start at a suitable level.

Below are some examples of microtraining workouts for intermediate to advanced exercisers (warm up, and start with a lesser range of motion). The examples show basic training and each micro workout may be changed with other exercises:

1 round (Tabata requires a 5 min. warm-up):
Tabata-routine; 20 sec. sprint, 10 sec. (active) rest-pause, repeat 8 times
12 back extensions
12 ab curls

1 round:
16 jump lunges (feet staggered, jump and change legs, repeat other leg)
16 push-ups
10 reaction drill (from prone (plank>les forward) to supine (sit-up)

2 rounds:
10 tuck jump (jump, pull the knees up)
16 back extensions
16 ab curls

2 rounds:
16 lunges (forward an/or out)
16 squat
10 pull-ups

3 rounds:
10 squat jump
10 dive bombers (circular push-ups forward and backward)
10 pull-ups

3 rounds:
10 Burpees (from prone or plank position, jump forward and up, return)
16 Lunges
12 Push-ups, narrow

Enjoy your workout!

10 Top Tips: Get The Most Out Of Your Training

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Don’t waste your time! Check these 10 expert tips, based on motivation theory and advanced sports science, and get the most out of your training time.

Få Mest Muligt Ud af Din MotionFå Mest Muligt ud af Træningen      Få Mere Ud af Din Træning og motivation

1. Find your internal motivation, find out what’s fun and meaningful in training: 1) It feels good working up a sweat and feeling the muscles work, 2) you get to know your body, 3) you get more energy, perform better and can do things, you couldn’t do before.
Alternatively for external motivation: Put up a photo on your fridge of training or an athlete, that inspires you or give yourself a reward for reaching one of your training goals.

2. Enjoy your favourite form of training: Try different things; dance, martial arts, fitness, group exercise, individual exercise, ball games, racket sport, water sport. What motivates you the most, gives you the greatest chance of starting, committing and adhering to it.

3. Do cross training, mix different training modalities and activities; mix cardio, strength, coordination and balance, flexibility, indoor and outdoor, in the water or on the ground, with or without equipment, with or without music. The body and mind loves variety. It improves your motor skills and provides all-round fitness.

4. Do strength training, e.g. 3 times a week, 20-30 min. pr. time: It improves your metabolism, increases energy expenditure during workouts and recovery. It reduces the risk of injury and improves everyday and sports performance. And it’s easy!

5. Surprise your body. Your body reacts especially well to unfamiliar training, so dig out forgotten exercises and activities, e.g. hula-hooping or football. Or vary your advanced strength exercises with basic, heavy training.

6. Change your program regularly, every 4-6 weeks, to keep the motivation and stimulate the muscles to respond even better.
The exception: If you still progress and is happy with your program.

7. Organize your training in your calendar or a training log. Set time aside for training, get into a good rhythm. This is the basis for lasting result-oriented training habits and gives an overview of your training pattern; indicates if you undertrain or (rare) overtrain.

8. Set goals, a dream goal is fine, but split it up into realistic smaller goals: Taking small steps ‘Small Increment’ technique is brilliant and doable. See to, that your goal setting is SMART, Specific, Measurable – e.g. from 0-1 mile in 5 weeks – Accepted, Realistic and Timed. And in particular: Test yourself to see how you progress, fitness testing is a very motivating activity.

9. Train with a partner. Training with one or more people, e.g. group exercise, has proved to increase exercise adherence and a partner can support you and help you to increased (heavier weight, higher speed) performance.
If you prefer to work out on your own, then let your heart rate monitor, training log, training app or your workout music be ‘your partner’.

10. Make your diet and lifestyle enhance your training. Drink approx. 2 liters of water every day throughout the day. Eat in moderation and eat healthy, whole-grain, vegetables and healthy proteins and oils (e.g. oily fish).
Get 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. You get more out of your training and faster.
Also: See to that your training clothes and shoes have a comfortable fit, let you move with easy and are sweat-transporting (and lay it out ready for use).
This makes a difference and enhance your training experience.