Whether you've made the decision to get back into the gym or you're a veteran, there are always small things that you can do to improve your workout and be efficient as possible. Not everyone has hours to spend in the gym each day, so it's crucial that you make the most of your time there if you want to achieve the results that you're looking for. Here are a few tips that will improve your workout the next time you step into the gym.
Listen To Something That Gets You Going
If the ambiance of people grunting and the clanging of weights gets you pumped for a workout, then keep doing what you're doing. However, if you prefer not to hear any of that, make sure that you're at least listening to something that gets your heart rate up or makes you excited to move your body.
Making a gym playlist is always a good idea because it can help keep you motivated, and it's all the songs you like, which means no taking a break to change the music. You never know what song might get you through that last set!
Make Sure You're Using The Right Weight
If you're doing workouts with bodyweight, that's just fine. But if you choose to use weights, it's important that you're using the right amount. A basic rule of thumb is that you want to use a weight that isn't too heavy for you to move but will present a challenge after a certain amount of repetitions.
It's always better to go lighter than heavier than you think because you can hurt yourself using too much weight, while there are still benefits if the weight is a little too light.
Log Your Progress To Increase Motivation And See Results
If you have a goal in mind that you want to accomplish, you'll never know if you have reached it or are on the right track if you never track your progress. According to personal trainer Adam Rosante, "when you go to the gym to perform that day's workout, note how many reps and sets you completed for each move, as well as the weight you used for each."
Over time, you will then be able to see that your reps and weight may have increased, which helps increase your motivation and will keep you coming back for more!
Sleep Is Essential
How can you expect yourself to perform in the gym if you're not getting enough sleep? At the end of the day, no amount of energy drinks or pre-workout can compare to a good night of rest.
Not only does sleep give you the energy you need to perform your best, but it also gives your body the time to repair itself, build muscle, or lose fat. Plus, exercising is also a great way to promote better sleep, which is something we could all use these days.
Do Workouts You Don't Want To Cry Over
Although working out isn't always supposed to be a walk in the park, there are countless exercises that you can choose from. This way, you aren't stuck doing the same movements that you either find boring or above or under your skill level.
Exercising shouldn't always be a chore, so take the time to experiment to see what works for you and what doesn't. When you find some exercises that you enjoy, you'll notice your mental attitude about working out will shift in the right direction.
Don't Forget To Take Days Off
When it comes to building muscle or regularly exercising in general, it's important to take some recovery days. You don't need to be in the gym every day to get the results you want. In fact, it's the opposite.
Working out creates micro-tears in your muscle fibers, and you get stronger when those muscles repair themselves when they aren't under stress. Therefore, your body needs days off if you want to make progress, otherwise, you might be shooting yourself in the foot! So, don't beat yourself for taking a day off. Your body needs it.
Practice Some Dynamic Stretches Before You Begin
When you walk into the gym, don't just hit the weights or hop on the elliptical, take some time to do some dynamic stretching to warm up your body first. Dynamic stretches are nice because they require body movement rather than just standing in place and pulling on your muscles.
Dynamic stretches help to raise your heart rate and body temperature, thus warming up your muscles. This allows for you to have a greater range of motion during your exercises, getting the most out of them. However, the stretches you want to do before all depend on your plan for the workout.
Strength Training Is Your Friend
To some people, few things are as intimidating as the weight room in a gym. But it's time to get over those fears because strength training will guide you to whatever results you're looking for. Strength training builds muscles that make your body inherently stronger and can make your day-to-day life that much easier.
Furthermore, even though most people associate a healthy heart with cardio training, studies have shown that strength training is also beneficial to the heart by lowering your blood pressure. Now go build those muscles.
Compound Workouts Are The Definition Of Efficiency
A compound exercise is a movement that works multiple muscle groups as well as two or more joints at once. These exercises don't just focus on one area of the body but several at the same time. Of course, they can be more difficult than isolation exercises, but they build more muscle and more calories because they require more effort.
According to Noam Tamir, the founder of TS Fitness, around 80 percent of your time exercising should be compound movements with the rest focusing on whatever part of the body you want to work on.
Save Time By Taking Shorter Breaks Between Exercises
If you're on a tight schedule and need to get in and out of the gym in a flash, one way to shave off minutes is to decrease your amount of rest time. This doesn't mean not taking a rest and completely burning yourself out, but taking shorter breaks between sets or exercises will cut down your overall time.
Not only does it keep your heart rate elevated, but it ups the intensity of your workout, meaning that no minute is wasted. Of course, the amount of rest you need depends on the exercise you're doing.
Don't Exercise When You're Hungry
While there are worse things that you can do, you do run a few risks when you work out when you're hungry. The first is that if you haven't eaten, you're most likely not going to perform as well as if you had, and in some instances increase your chances of passing out. Losing consciousness can be incredibly dangerous in any circumstance, especially if you're using weights.
Secondly, if you work out when you're hungry, you might end up overeating afterward because your body is craving energy, or making unwise decisions when it comes to the food you choose to consume.
Hydrate Before, During, And After
Losing fluids while working out can significantly reduce your exercise performance as well as hinder your body's ability to recover. According to Amanda Carlson-Phillips, the vice president of nutrition and research at EXOS, most people are already dehydrated when they arrive at the gym, meaning they will only continue to lose fluids during their exercise.
Carlson Phillips recommends that people drink 1/2 to 1 ounce of water per pound of their body weight each day. So, if you're adding exercise into your routine, you must be consuming enough water before, during, and after.
Variety Is Key In Any Workout
If you're someone who likes to go to the gym and solely focus on cardio, that's great, but it could benefit you to incorporate some strength exercises into your routine. You can accomplish this by doing a few exercises that involve free weights, resistance machines, or dumbbells.
Adding some variety into your workouts will greatly improve your results as well as take care of your body. You shouldn't be working the same muscle groups each day either, as muscle tissue needs time to heal between workouts. This usually takes around 48 hours.
Protein Should Be In Your Diet, Even Before Bed
There's a reason that bodybuilders eat chicken and carb-heavy meals multiple times a day. This is because protein helps to build muscles and nourish what your body loses during a workout. Of course, muscle building shouldn't stop when you're sleeping, so a little protein before bed can never hurt.
Research by Maastricht University in the Netherlands shows that a snack that includes casein, a slow-digesting protein, promotes muscle building throughout the night. Some foods that contain casein include Greek yogurt and cottage cheese.
Invest In A Good Pair Of Shoes
Just as you wouldn't want to walk into the gym wearing jeans, you also don't want to be wearing sandals or any other kind of inappropriate footwear. Countless exercises put a lot of stress on your lower extremities, such as your knees and feet, so it's crucial that you provide them with as much protection as possible.
This means investing in proper workout footwear that is comfortable, provides cushioning, and fits well. Although this may mean you have to go out and purchase a special pair, your body will thank you in the long run.
A little Caffeine Can Go A Long Way
If you're intimidated to dive into energy supplements such as pre-workout before going to the gym, rest easy knowing that a cup of coffee will do just fine. It's perfect for morning gym-goers.
Caffeine can help to stimulate your central nervous system and give you the extra energy that you may need for whatever you are doing. It can also have the effect of making your workout more enjoyable. According to Jessica Cording, R.D., the best time to have your coffee is about 30 minutes before you begin exercising.
Have A Plan...And A Backup Plan
Like any other aspect of life, having a plan when arriving at the gym will make your life significantly easier and give you much-needed structure. Walking into the gym without a clue about what part of your body you want to work on or how to do it is an accident waiting to happen and can be counterproductive.
Besides, having a plan decreases the amount of time you spend walking around aimlessly which takes up time and lowers your heart rate. A backup plan is also helpful in case a particular machine is being used, and you need to make a quick transition.
Find Yourself A Workout Buddy
Unless going to the gym is something that you consider as "me" time, find yourself someone that you can go to the gym with on a regular basis. Not only does having this person with you make the gym a less daunting experience, but it can also help motivate you to work harder.
Furthermore, having a gym buddy also holds you accountable, something that everyone can use. So, on those days that you really don't feel like working out, you'll have someone counting on you to show up, and will hopefully give you an earful if you don't
Think About Your Muscles As You Work Them
It's easy for your mind to wander when you're working out, which can lead to performing an exercise incorrectly or essentially wasting your time. When doing an exercise, think about the exact muscles that you're trying to engage.
Personal trainer Pete McCall, C.S.C.S., comments on this, stating, "What we've seen is that if you focus on contracting the muscle that you're involving, then you can get a better result out of it." If you think about the specific muscle you're focusing on, you're more likely to activate it rather than letting other muscle groups take over to get the exercise over with.
Avoid Instability Devices Like The Plague
While using equipment such as exercise balls and wobble boards may seem like a great way to engage your core and other parts of your body during a workout, many experts advise against it. A study from Appalachian State University in North Carolina showed that when athletes did squats on instability discs, they had less force and muscle activity than if they were doing them on solid ground.
Not only are these devices dangerous, but they also prevent the user from increasing the weight they use, creating a plateau in progress. The stable ground is the best way to go to build muscle.