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  • Crush your fitness and health goals and maximize results this year with tips from Danny Musico, trainer to pros such as Cowboys' running back Ezekiel Elliott.
By K. Aleisha Fetters
January 17, 2017

Danny Musico doesn’t sugarcoat it. “When people fail at sticking with their resolutions, it’s because they aren’t fully committed to their goals,” he says. “That’s why athletes are great to train: they are totally committed to their workouts. After all, their training in the gym is what keeps them working on the field.”

With a full roster of muscle-clad NFL clients—from Dallas Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott to the Rams’ Chase Reynolds, Kenny Britt, Rodger Saffold and more—Musico says that finding a reason to train that truly gets you fired up and dedicated to your workouts is vital. It doesn’t matter if it’s the entire world that’s watching on Super Bowl Sunday, or if it’s your children who have their eyes glued on you.

“For some of my clients, fitness is about being able to play with their kids. Or about setting a healthy example for them,” Musico says. “For others, it’s simply about living. Remember, what you do today determines how you are going to live 10 years from today.”

When you think about exercise as a requisite for living—rather than as a luxury or something you tack onto the end of your day—you sure as hell make time for it. But loving fitness? That happens when you start to see and feel the results of exercise, whether that means fat loss and muscle gain or improved energy and mental health.

Below, Musico shares his top five tips for making sure you get the most out of your workouts—and get hooked on breaking a sweat—in the new year.

1. Find someone to motivate you

When you pay for a training session, you show up to the gym. No excuses. But all accountability aside, working with a qualified professional is vital to making sure that your workouts are properly planned, you execute exercises with correct form, and you stay safe, especially when you’re starting out, Musico says.

While he recommends sticking with a trainer for at least a year to reap crazy “before/after” results, if that’s not in the budget, just a month is great. Make sure to tell your trainer that you want learn why he/she is picking certain exercises, and how you can structure your workouts after the month is up. 

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2. Feed Your Workouts

Forget fasted cardio. You need to fuel your body if you are going to work hard in the gym—and get the most out of every bead of sweat. Prioritize a diet rich in whole foods like fruits, veggies, lean protein, and plenty of water, says Musico, noting that many people enter the gym dehydrated. The result: decreased workout performance, recovery, and results.

To maintain proper hydration levels, your goal should be to always have urine that’s pale yellow or nearing clear. Then, during your workouts, drink six to eight ounces of water every 15 to 30 minutes. As a partner with energy drink Celsius, Musico uses the brand’s beverages with his clients as a supplement to water, to help them load up with vitamins and minerals, but unsweetened green tea and water flavored with fruits are other options for staying hydrated.

3. Eat More Protein

During each workout, you create thousands of microscopic tears in every worked muscle. A huge factor in repairing those tears is providing your muscles with amino acids from dietary protein, he says.

Focus on integrating whole protein sources like meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and whey protein powder into every meal and snack. Aim to consume between 20 and 30 grams of protein at every meal.

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4. Swap Steady-State Cardio for HIIT

“Do you want to look like a marathon runner or a sprinter?” Musico asks. If your answer is the latter, you need to stop focusing on long endurance sessions on the treadmill or elliptical to burn fat and instead turn your favorite cardio workouts into high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions.

When Musico puts his clients on a cardio machine, he has them perform all-out exercise for 30 seconds, rest for 30, and repeat for a total of three minutes. When he has them strength train, he opts for circuit-style workouts involving 12 to 15 explosive reps per set.

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5. Cut Out Alcohol

For many, alcohol is what separates them from their fitness goals. If it's not for the hangovers and workouts missed, it’s because of the extra calories and sugars. And, if it’s not for that, it’s for the amount of money it steals from other, healthier exploits. 

“Many people won’t balk at spending $100 per week on alcohol and ruining their health, but they refuse to spend $100 a week on workouts to improve their health,” he says. Like we said, Musico doesn’t sugarcoat anything.