When it comes to starting a new fitness program, there are many things to be considered and many things that should definitely be avoided. Everything from nutrition, supplementation, the type of workouts, and rest should all play a vital role in determining the overall effectiveness of your exercise program. Here is a list of the top four fitness rules to follow in order to ensure success.

Avoid Isolation Exercises

One of the biggest mistakes that people often make when beginning a new exercise program is doing too many isolation exercises. While they serve their purpose in building some muscle tone, individuals should stick with heavy and explosive compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, rows, power cleans and presses. These movements are neurologically taxing on the body and produce high amounts of anabolic hormones that facilitate fat loss and build lean muscle mass.

Eat Clean

Regardless if you are trying to bulk up or cut down, the majority of foods that you consume should be clean. Another common mistake that people generally make is to assume that exercise can erase the negative effects of poor dieting. While this might work for beginners, eventually a diet filled with fatty and sugary foods will catch up to you. Stay away from refined sugars, processed foods, sugary drinks and fried foods. The bulk of what you eat should come from lean meats, whole grains, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables.

Avoid Excessive Cardio

While aerobics plays a critical role in fat loss, it should not be done in the same intensity as weight lifting. Excessive amounts of cardiovascular exercise raises cortisol levels which leads to muscle breakdown and can even potentially hamper fat loss efforts. To get an idea of what this means, compare a sprinter with a marathon runner. Sprinters, although more muscular, typically have lower body fat percentages than marathon runners. Building muscle should be the foundation of any serious exercise program.

Get Adequate Rest

The biggest factor that determines success in any exercise program is getting adequate rest. The body needs to recover from intense exercise. Getting less than eight hours of sleep a night can affect muscle growth and can even hamper fat loss efforts as well. Cortisol, a stress hormone, is heightened when the body gets inadequate rest. Avoid overtraining and ensure that after an intense workout, you are fueling your body with proper nutrients such as amino acids and carbohydrates.