12 Ways To Maximize Your Workouts
The gym can be an effective way to promote weight loss but it can also take up precious hours of the day.
If you’re not interested in becoming a gym rat but you still want to tap into the positive benefits that a gym membership can offer, here are a dozen ways that you can make sure you’re getting the most out of each visit.
1. Create a Workout Plan
Schedules and routines can help you get into a rhythm while you’re at the gym. By strategizing what you’ll do before you enter the premises, you can ensure that you’re maximizing each gym visit.
Take some time beforehand to plan out your workout. You can either come up with a series of rotating workouts that you do by default, or you can personalize each visit. Either way, make sure you’re ready before you sign in.
2. Stay Hydrated
It’s tempting to avoid too much water before you work out. A belly full of water can feel like a bother during high-intensity activity.
However, staying hydrated is a critical part of getting the most out of your workouts. On average, you can lose between 17 and 50 ounces of H2O while exercising. Even mild hydration can impact both physical and cognitive abilities and make your exercise efforts that much harder.
You can avoid this issue by creating a personal hydration plan. Make sure that you’re drinking water well before, right before, during, and after your workouts.
3. Start With Dynamic Warm-Ups
Everyone knows that you should stretch before you engage in high-performance physical activity. But static stretches (where you “bend and hold”) have come under an increasing amount of scrutiny.
Instead, take some time to run through a dynamic stretch routine. This should mimic the motions that you’re about to do in your workout. A dynamic stretch is a much better way to loosen joints, stretch muscles, boost your blood flow, and generally improve your range of motion.
You are what you eat, but the concept goes further than just your makeup. Your food intake can also impact how effective your workouts are (or are not.)
Consider how you’re fueling your body. Are you eating whatever you want before you exercise? If so, you may want to be more strategic. Look for a specific diet that can help you stay strong throughout your workouts. If you’re trying to lose weight quickly, make sure that your workouts and your caloric intake are appropriately synced up.
Along with the number of calories, also consider whether you’re eating clean food. Find options that will give you the energy and endurance you need for each gym session. It may even be a good idea to schedule food prep sessions to make sure you have what you need each time you pack your gym bag.
5. Reduce Rest Time
You always want to give your body a break between different circuits. With that said, rest time can also eat into the effectiveness of your workouts. If you rest for too long, it can also mean your heart rate gets too low.
Instead, plan your workout so that you move from one activity to the next. Give yourself a brief breather in between, but keep moving as much as possible while using different muscle groups in quick succession.
6. Focus On Your Form
There’s a reason instructors are constantly harping on your form. If you aren’t maintaining the right shape, posture, and movements throughout each exercise, the entire activity can be in vain.
A squat won’t do you much good if there’s too much backbend in it. A sit-up is fruitless if you use your bodily momentum. A bicep curl is in vain if you’re swinging the weights. Always consider your form so that you know you’re getting effective results.
7. Switch Up Your Routine
If you always do the same thing, it’s easy to slip into a rut. A circuit repeated too many visits in a row can lead to boredom, longer rest periods, and a general sense of apathy.
If you want to maximize the time you spend working out, consider shaking things up from time to time. Create a new plan every month, week, or even day. This can provide new challenges and spark creativity that can help you maintain your mojo.
8. Utilize Supplements
From shakes to pills to mixes, there are countless supplements on the market. Some of these can help with things like brain function and weight loss, but many can make a difference in your results.
If you’re just getting started in your workout journey, HMB (beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate) can help with muscle mass in those who are starting to weight train.
Make sure to do your research and consider your personal needs. Then look for supplements that can meet these requirements and boost your workout results.
9. Use Free Weights
A machine can feel like the ideal way to work out. The imposing contraption screams authority and promises results. However, it’s those less-imposing dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells that can make the biggest difference.
Research has revealed that free weights seem to induce a greater hormonal response than a machine. They engage more muscles and require more from the participant. A machine is a good way to learn your form, but moving on to free weights is a great way to up your game.
10. Eat More Protein and Carbs
Your overall diet is important, but protein and carbs are two critical fueling factors that you should always consider when heading to the gym.
Protein helps with muscle growth while carbohydrates provide a primary source of energy for your body while you workout. Using the two together can provide dynamic support. Ideally, you should eat them a few hours before you work out as well as shortly afterward.
11. Get More Sleep
Rest is a critical part of your workouts, too. Not only should you rest your muscle groups for at least 48 hours between workouts, but you should also make sure that you’re getting enough sleep at night to properly recover and build muscle.
This applies to both quantity and quality. An adult should get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Also, consider if your sleep is disturbed and look for ways to improve the quality of your slumber.
12. Take Advantage of Post-Workout Recovery
Finally, make sure that you don’t stop with the workout itself. After you’ve made your plans, hydrated, fueled, stretched, and worked out, you want to invest in some post-workout recovery efforts.
This includes anything from drinking and eating to stretching, taking supplements, sleeping, and getting a massage. If you want each workout to count, make sure to follow up.