Many of us head to the gym multiple times each week, for weeks on end, yet fail to really see the fruits of our labor. This is because no matter how many times you hit the mat or crank up the treadmill, if you’re not getting the most of each workout, you’re not going to see the results you’re striving for. Think quality, not quantity. Of course we all have days when we’re just not feeling it or ready to give it our all, but there are certain ways that we can boost our ability to. Maximize your workout by choosing the right mindset, self-care and post-workout routine.
Remember this checklist before your next sweat session:
As with anything you do in life, it’s important to commit to your workout. Yes, that means every single one of them. Wear the proper clothing, shoes and, most importantly, attitude. Show up like you mean it, and be ready to work out with intensity. Accept that exercise may feel uncomfortable. After all, you must break out of your comfort zone in order to make real strides. Yes, you’ll sweat, you’ll be out of breath and your muscles will likely burn. If you find yourself lacking self-discipline, consider signing up for a fitness challenge, going for group classes or recruiting a workout buddy. You’ll be much less likely to skip this way.
Make a plan
Without some sort of game plan, a trip to the gym can easily result in a total waste of time. So plan out your workouts and set clear objectives in advance to avoid aimlessly and unproductively wandering between machines and equipment. By doing so, you’ll be more mentally prepared before you start and feel a great sense of accomplishment once you complete your goal. Remember to always warm up, cool down and stretch.
Don’t multitask your time
It might be tempting to fire off emails in between sets or catch up with an old friend while walking the treadmill, but it’s important to be fully present and mindful during your workout. Using the gym for social hour or to knock out other tasks is one quick way to sabotage your goals. This is because when you’re not paying attention to your workout, you lose steam. So put down the magazine and be all business at the gym. Pop in some earphones so that no one bothers you, and listen to something upbeat that will provide motivation. Which brings us to our next tip.
Use music to your advantage
Sometimes, all you need is good music to heighten your mood or get the adrenaline pumping. No, really. Studies have shown that music helps one endure waves of exhaustion for a longer period when exercising, rather than quitting at the first sign of sweat. So keep your phone (do people still use iPods?) charged and your playlist updated.
“Music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort and may even promote metabolic efficiency. When listening to music, people run farther, bike longer and swim faster than usual—often without realizing it,” said Ferris Jabr in an article from the Scientific American.
Music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort and may even promote metabolic efficiency. When listening to music, people run farther, bike longer and swim faster than usual—often without realizing it.
Load up on protein after your workout
Knowing when and how to fuel your body properly is the most important thing you can do for your workouts beyond simply showing up. Within an hour after your session your muscles are ready to begin the recovery process. Consuming a protein shake and a handful of seeds or nuts is quick and delicious way to take in nutrients and help your body do so. You’ll bounce back faster and be prepared to conquer the next workout.
Proper hydration is vital to athletic performance and overall health. Our bodies lose water through sweat glands located all over, and for this reason we can quickly become dehydrated during a workout. Dehydration prevents our bodies from functioning at full performance and can also hinder the recovery process. So make sure you drink enough water to replenish what’s lost, by drinking fluids before, during and after your exercise.
Sleep is one of the most important and probably most overlooked part of a fitness routine. A mutually beneficial relationship, the right amount of quality sleep will help aid the recovery process and allow you the energy to get through a tough workout. So aim to get the recommended 7 to 8 hours each night. If you feel run down, achy and groggy, your body may be trying to tell you that it hasn’t fully recuperated.
“You give your body the chance to repair, recharge, and regrow during sleep. It’s the ideal time to replenish nutrients, and, since your body isn’t moving, it allows the muscles to repair themselves,” said Dr. Felecia Stoler in an article from Muscle and Fitness.
You give your body the chance to repair, recharge, and regrow during sleep. It’s the ideal time to replenish nutrients, and, since your body isn’t moving, it allows the muscles to repair themselves.
Celebrate progress and challenge yourself
Forming new practices can be challenging, so be easy on yourself and take small, actionable steps towards these healthy workout habits. When it comes to your fitness, remember that change doesn’t just happen overnight. Reward yourself as you make progress, but also be sure to keep setting challenges for yourself frequently and constantly.
When every workout feels like your best, you’ll be so much more motivated to keep going and continue making healthy life choices. With that kind of consistency, you’ll likely see way beyond the results you initially set out for.
Image courtesy of muscleandfitness.com.