We all know doing something when it comes to exercising is better than doing nothing. But if you really want to take advantage of your time spent working out then you will not only want to train right, but you will want to adopt some new habits to help you get the most from your workout routine. We’ve compiled a list of 5 to start you off.
- Make a plan. Knowing what you want to achieve from your gym session before you leave the house will keep you from wasting your time in the gym and wandering from one piece of equipment to another.
With a good plan you can figure out your workout circuit, that way if there’s someone on the equipment you need, you can just come back to it later without having to contemplate what else takes your fancy. Also by having a plan you can see results quickly or discover if you’re plateauing. Don’t know how to make a plan? Simply look online for inspiration, or ask a trainer to design a program for you.
- Start your day right. No day should begin without a proper breakfast, especially not a gym day. Your body needs all the energy it can get if you want to make the most of your time sweating later. Don’t settle for a piece of toast and some coffee – give yourself the best start and fill up with some yogurt and bananas or coconut flour pancakes. Studies suggest consuming a mix of protein and carbohydrates before exercise can improve your performance and may allow you to work out at a higher intensity. Just avoid the overly-processed cereals and the highly sugared breakfast bars, and don’t forget to drink plenty of water!
For an extra kick of caffeine and essential energy nutrients, a pre-workout drink is also a great way to begin your workout. I highly recommend Dymatize’s new PRE WO to get your metabolism going before a major workout.
- Warm-up. Warming up before you start exercising is more crucial to prevent an injury than cooling down at the end (it will also allow you to get the most from your workout and help prevent an injury). When warming up go for a dynamic warm-up, one that gets you sweating and preps the body for what’s about to happen. A static warm-up will just cause you harm – why would you stretch cold muscles? That’s just asking for trouble.
- Post-workout nutrition. Eating within half an hour of finishing working out is a great habit to get into to enable you to maximize your workout. Your muscles need to replace their glycogen stores, so fill up on carbs and protein-heavy foods such as peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt, and fruit or turkey and salad on whole-grain bread. Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids too to help prevent dehydration.
- Rest. If you think you have to go to the gym and hit it hard every day (forever) in order to lose weight, gain muscle or become incredibly fit, think again. Off days are even more important for building muscle than the gym days themselves (obviously you still need to do the gym days to take advantage of the best ones!). Overtraining is simply not a good idea: if you don’t give your body a chance to repair itself you are, quite literally, wasting your time working out. Stick to the simple rule of work out + rest = results. If you have to do some form of exercise on rest days, make it a form of gentle exercise that doesn’t stress your already overworked muscles: stick to swimming or yoga or an easy run or walk. And don’t forget the power of sleep.