You may be slogging it out at the gym every day, but are you seeing results?
I am always on the lookout for ways to keep me motivated and to make sure my workouts are doing what they should be.
Here are my five top tips to get the most out of your efforts.
1. Change it up
Change the mode or intensity of your training every four to six weeks. The body gets used to things very quickly. Once it's used to it there's no longer a lot of stimulus to cause it to change. So we wonder why we end up staying the same, even though we're still working out.
Altering your routine will help you avoid these conditioning plateaus and force your body to adapt to new movements and levels of intensity. If you use the treadmill to walk a lot, try switching to the cross-trainer for a week instead or if you like to bike outdoors try swapping for some beach walking sessions, walk on the flat, try walking up a hill - any change is great. Get creative and challenge yourself.
2. Choose your exercise by your goals
Not all exercise is created equal. Some exercise is more effective for fat loss, while other options are better for health. Other forms are great for fitness while others focus on improving strength. By setting one or two top goals and understanding what the most effective form of exercise is for that goal we can get the most out of the time we spend in our workouts.
Weight training is fantastic for fat loss, walking is great for general health, interval cycling is excellent for reducing stomach fat, and boxing is great for stress release, fat stripping and improved short-bout fitness.
3. Fuel your body properly
Eat good quality foods first to fuel yourself and stay hydrated. Just like a car we need good fuel to run at an optimum rate. This does not mean we need to eat perfectly all of the time, it means eating good quality food as a regular base. In doing so, you'll feel better and find that you recover and repair after exercise much more quickly which will allow us to be effective and enjoy your next workout.
The same can be said about water. Often we lack energy to train. You may find you have a headache and a little tension and decide to skip out on exercise. In fact, having some water and staying hydrated can minimise such effects and actually improve energy, lubricate stiff and sore joints, reduce tension and help achieve better results when you do train.
4. Go for quality
Always focus on quality over quantity. It may seem like working out more often is the best way to get fit, but more intense workouts performed less often will actually produce greater results.
Your body needs rest to recover and repair damaged muscle tissue and avoid injury. So yes, I am totally saying more is NOT always better. Feeling exhausted, stiff and sore while trying to exercise is a challenge and not the best idea in many instances. Take time to recover, focus on getting a good night's sleep and prepare some healthy food for the next day. This will improve the effectiveness of your workouts when you do them because you'll have more energy and improved focus.
5. Deep breaths
When strength training, take full breaths during each exercise, exhaling on the exertion and inhaling as you release. During cardiovascular exercise, full breaths will deliver as much oxygen as possible to the working muscles, making them more efficient.
Many of us hold our breath during a movement without even realising it. So just by becoming mindful of this you can improve your workouts and ultimately your results.