When you tackle a workout you want to get everything you can out of each rep, lift, and every bead of sweat. No one wants ‘so-so’ results. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can improve the efficiency of your session, and claim all those sweaty gym gains. Whether you’re a fitness fanatic or a fitness newbie, these tips from personal trainer Alicia Beveridge will help make your workout count.
Choose your workout wisely
One of the keys to working out smarter is choosing the right workout for your fitness goals. If you’re looking for a cardio hit, then it’s no use doing yin yoga. First, figure out what you’d like your end result to be (run a 10km, lose weight, put on muscle, tone up etc) and choose your workout accordingly. Not sure what your fitness goal is? Your best bet then is to try HIIT (High-intensity interval training), which is bursts of intense exercise, broken up by active recovery periods. The idea is to keep your heart rate up and burn more fat in a shorter amount of time.
Have a solid workout playlist
It’s no surprise that your favourite beats can pump you up for a workout; it’s even been proven that listening to music while you work out may actually help you workout harder and elevate your mood. So make sure your playlist is on point. It’ll help to create it with your workout in mind – start with uplifting slower tracks for your warm up, rocking tunes for your workout and add relaxing tracks to lower your heart rate and blood pressure back to normal post workout. Try to make the song transitions smooth and make sure each song is similar; a jolt in music can put you off your game!
Fuel your workout well
Make friends with carbs! Fuel your body right and you will be able to give more to your workout. You want to think of carbs as your body’s primary fuel for high-intensity workout so it’s important to consume carbs and protein before you workout. If you do eat a pre-workout meal with fat, try and eat at least a few hours before your train to give your body a chance to digest it. However, it’s obviously better to fuel your workouts with natural foods, as you allow your body to focus its energy on repairing your muscles rather than digesting your food.
Grab a workout buddy
Exercise and friends are a powerful combo. Having someone else around will help you make the workouts more enjoyable, plus, you’ve made the commitment not only to yourself but also to one of your friends. You won’t want to let them down, even if it is raining and you’d rather sit on the couch…Also, don’t be afraid to chose a buddy a little fitter than you; it’ll push you to workout harder and more efficiently. We’re naturally competitive when we’re with a fit friend.
Don’t be afraid to lift weights
If you’ve avoided weights in the past, it’s now time to embrace strength training. Strong muscles will not only help you in your day-to-day life, but building muscle will also increase your metabolic rate. Your body will have a higher resting metabolism and be able to more quickly burn the fuel in your body. Weights also help to prevent injury, improve bone density, and fight the natural decrease in your muscle mass as you get older, so there really is no reason to not pump iron. Aim to master exercises using only your bodyweight at first, then amp tit up by adding light weights to give your muscles an extra challenge. For example, if you’ve mastered squats and lunges, try holding a set of dumbbells to make them more effective.
Dress to win
So research hasn’t *exactly* proven this, but it makes sense that the better you feel in your workout clothes, the potential is there to train harder and feel more positive about exercise… especially when you put on some killer tights that fit you like a second skin. Apart from how you look, it’s also important to make sure you wear the right shoes, bras and active wear that support you when you exercise – look for gear that provides comfort, reduces injuries or discomfort, and ensures optimum performance. A good motivator is to reward yourself when you reach fitness and/or health goals with new active wear to keep the momentum going.
Take a rest day
Even though you may love the idea of doing a workout every day, it’s important to schedule in rest days to allow your muscles to recover. From a mental standpoint can actually help prevent burnout too. But, don’t spend the day in front of the TV, you can still keep active on rest days, just lower the intensity, think activities like walking, swimming, or gentle yoga. Take it as an opportunity to grab a friend for a coffee, get outdoors and go for a walk.
This article was originally published in Marie Claire Magazine Australia.