It can sometimes be easy to fall into a routine of heading to the gym a few times a week and pottering around, without really getting much out of it. Implementing a few of these simple steps can really help increase the amount you get out of your workout, helping you to start seeing progress and enjoy your workouts again!
- Get a good playlist
Music has been shown both to improve performance and enjoyment during sport, both of which are important if you’re looking for consistency in progress! You’ll be surprised what you can achieve when you stick on a good playlist – anecdotally I have achieved many of my best runs when listening to a playlist where the music matches the cadence of my stride. Spotify has a cool smart playlist that allows you to put in your tempo (of cycyling or running) and plays you music that matches that beat. If you’re looking for an extra boost, this could be worth a shot!
2. Sleep properly
We all know deep down how important sleep is for pretty much everything in everyday life, and yet it’s often the first thing to go when we are busy or stressed. Being well rested improves reaction times, reduces injury rates and fatigue, increases power and reduces mental errors – vital especially if you play a sport. Getting a good night’s rest can also increase your motivation to workout, which is something we all struggle with from time to time!
3. Mix up your sessions
Boredom can totally annihilate even the best intentions. If the gym (or wherever you workout) doesn’t inspire you, then why would you put yourself through it? I try to mix up my workouts daily, so I never get bored, and also work different parts of the body. I do cardio and HIIT for my heart, weights for strength and bone density and everything else just for fun. Mix it up!
4. Eat 2h before
You don’t want to head to the gym on a full stomach. When your body is still digesting food, it uses blood that could otherwise be used to carry oxygen to your muscles. Equally though, if you don’t eat and start a workout hungry this can leave you feeling lethargic and weaker than usual. Whilst this can be used as a training technique, it’s not recommended if you’re looking to get the most out of your workout! Check out what to eat pre and post workout.
5. Warm up properly
This one is SO easy to overlook. When we’re a little short on time, the warm-up can seem like an unnecessary waste. However, if you’re looking to get personal bests (whether that’s in cardio or weights) and hoping to not get injured, then warming up is essential. It prepares the muscles and joints for work, meaning that whatever you’re workout, you’re likely to do it better. Try warming up with dynamic movements and cooling down with static stretches, rather than the other way around.
6. Have a plan
There’s nothing worse than going into the gym and having no idea what to do, whether that’s because you’re new to it or because you haven’t organised your workout days. I have fallen into the trap of telling myself that I’m just going to ‘workout’ but not saying how, and then half-heartedly doing a million things until the 45 minute workout is over. Now I try to write down what I’m going to do in the gym, or set up a circuit so I don’t have to think about what I’m doing next. This also makes your workouts much more efficient, meaning you can go in, smash a workout and get out in record time!
“Water regulates your body temperature and lubricates your joints. It helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy. If you’re not hydrated, your body can’t perform at its highest level. You may feel tired, have muscle cramps, dizziness, or other serious symptoms.” – from Family Doctor. Water is needed for your body to produce energy, and if you’re dehydrated it literally can’t produce as much. To keep hydrated try to always have a reusable water bottle on you, and take sips throughout the day. When you exercise you lose water in the form of sweat and simply through breathing, so make sure to continually sip on water during and after your sessions. If you feel tired, you may just be dehydrated!
8. Dress appropriately
Have you ever seen someone attempting a run in totally inappropriate footwear or an un-supportive bra and think to yourself ‘WHY’. Turning up to the gym wearing non sports clothing is shooting yourself in the foot if you’re looking for progress. Girls, please invest in a well-fitted sports bra. Once the ligaments keeping your boobs perky are damaged (your Cooper’s ligaments), they’re damaged for life, and you’ll have saggy boobs by the time you’re 30. This is important even for small breasted women, so don’t think you’re exempt! Also if you’ve ever tried running properly without a good bra, you’ll know how uncomfortable this is – just spend the money on a good bra and be done with it. Having leggings/trackies that don’t fall down is also important, and a pet peeve of mine is having men unable to complete a set without having to pull up their trousers. The idea is to not be distracted from your workout at the gym, and having decent clothes is step one in achieving this.