If you’ve ever started an exercise program and were frustrated by poor results, here are a few tips to make your workouts more productive.

1. Your results will be in proportion to your exercise intensity. You do not have to spend hours exercising. In fact, if you can, you're not working hard enough. Your weights are too light while lifting, your speed is too slow while doing cardio or both. Don't try to kill yourself the first day but you will need to challenge your body to get fat loss results.

2. Stop spending hours in the cardio area. If you are doing 30, 40, or even 60 minutes of steady state cardio in an attempt to lose weight, stop. Walking, running, or hitting the elliptical or stationary bike for extended periods of time will not get you the body you want. Cardio intervals or metabolic circuits are more effective alternatives.

3. Make sure you are strength training. Resistance training is associated with too many health benefits to list them all here. Besides preserving muscle as we age, strength training helps control weight, builds strong bones, helps prevent injuries, builds self confidence, and lots more.

4. Get a professionally designed strength training program. Picking exercises willy-nilly because they look fun or because you think they'll work certain areas, won't get you far. To avoid injury and get maximum benefits, you need a balanced program that works opposing muscle groups evenly. Invest in a couple of personal training sessions or check out program recommendations on my blog.

5. Concentrate on compound movements. Squats, Pulldowns, Presses, Lunges, Pushups, Kettlebell Swings, Rows, Deadlifts, Pullups, etc. are far superior to Leg Extensions, Bicep Curls and Tricep Kickbacks. Compound exercises are more time efficient and burn more calories because they work multiple muscles at one time.

6. Step away from the machines. Although I often incorporate one or two machines in the workouts I design, the bulk of my programs focus on exercises where you support your own body weight. Free weight and body weight exercises place a greater demand on your muscles to stabilize, control and balance your body and the weight you're lifting, forcing you to work harder and get better results.

7. Record your workouts. Studies have shown that people who track their training sessions- exercises performed, weight used, repetitions completed, etc.- make better progress. Tracking your workouts will also help you...

8. Always try to improve upon your previous workout performance. Our bodies quickly adapt to the physical stresses we place upon them. Don’t get complacent; strive to do a little better each workout. Try to increase the weight you use or to perform more reps (always with good form, of course) or do your cardio intervals a little faster or with more resistance.

9. Change your workout routine every 4-6 weeks. Because of adaptation, you should change your exercise routine regularly. However, I personally don't recommend switching exercises too often. If you don't stick to a routine for a few weeks, you won't not get the full benefits from it.

10. Clean up your nutrition. Eliminate as much processed foods as possible (anything that comes in a bag or box) and most, or all, liquid calories. Focus on eating a variety of fresh, unprocessed foods. You can't out-train a bad diet.

Author's Bio: 

Mickey Glick is the owner of Body & Soul Fitness Studio, an all-women fitness center and No Pink Dumbbells Boot Camp, co-ed group fitness training, both in Lancaster, PA. She has worked in the fitness industry since 1995 and is a certified personal trainer.