Jimmy Pena, MS, CSCS

I'm asked by people everywhere about the "best way" to get in shape this year. And my answer is simple. I tell them to do whatever it is they will do. That's right. Whatever they will do or enjoy doing is exactly my prescription for new year's health. If you enjoy an activity, you'll be more likely to perform it more often.

I also feel it's important to start out with small goals that you can build your success on. Too many times, people begin a new year with an enormous weight-loss or muscle-gain plan, and try to accomplish it all at once. That kind of thinking is bound to leave you struggling to find results, or worse, laid up with an injury.

So, if you're starting over, coming back from an injury or are brand new to exercise, fitness or bodybuilding, take it slow and learn as much as you can. The good thing is that weight training and cardiovascular exercise might be something that you absolutely enjoy — you are at muscleandfitness.com, after all — which bodes well with my first point, but you have to methodically go about your gains, not only to prevent burnout but injury. Too often, people go back to the gym and grab the kind of weight they "used to" push and end up setting themselves back because their joints and muscles just aren't ready yet.

So take it slow. Find a good plan that is progressive in nature, and one that works all major muscle groups. Invest your time in learning a good nutritional plan that fits your lifestyle and training routine and physique goals.

Another good idea is to enlist an accountability partner if possible. Someone with whom you can share the journey that will help keep you on track with your goals. The healthy competition perhaps can be a catalyst for long-lasting habits and change.

Finally, keep M&F with you along the way. Each month, we bring you new tips, routines, meal plans and supplement ideas to keep the gains coming. If you're looking for some structure for 2008, be sure to pick up our February issue, on newsstands now. Our 33-page Starter's Guide is packed to the hilt with all the guidelines you'll need to start forging a new you. And, as always, check back here often for excerpted articles and exercise info from the M&F brain trust.

Be well and be fit!

M&F Fitness Director

The February issue of M&F is on newsstands now!