1. Stretch After Your Workout
Stretching post-workout can almost seem like a chore, especially if you’re on a tight schedule where you need to get in, crush a workout and get out. But stretching is essential for developing and maintaining an appropriate range of motion around joints, assisting in correcting posture and increasing blood flow and nutrient supply to muscles. Improved flexibility has the potential to increase physical performance as well as decrease risk for injury. Always save 5 minutes at the end of your workout to stretch out major muscle groups, especially those that feel tight.
If you’re not sure where to start for a post workout stretching routine, Health.com has an awesome sequence for major muscle groups. Another one of my favorite things to do post workout is foam rolling! It is amazing for myofacial muscle release. The foam rolling routine can be found at Symmetry4Me.
2. Go in with a Plan
In order to make the most of your time at the gym go in with a workout plan. Decide before-hand what muscle groups and movement patterns you want to work. Movement patterns can be broken down like so:
- Knee Dominant
- Hip Dominant
- Core (Anti-Rotation/Rotation)
- Horizontal Push (Upper/Lower)
- Horizontal Pull (Upper/Lower)
- Vertical Pull (Upper/Lower)
- Vertical Press (Upper/Lower)
This will save time wandering around machines and weights trying to figure out what exercises to do. It helps to use a stopwatch and time your rest in between exercises so that you challenge yourself to try and beat time/reps. This makes for a more efficient trip to the gym and you’ll have everything that you did written down so you can reference it later.
FitnessBuilder acts as a portal personal trainer that keeps track and logs workout stats, anthropometric data and your progress. It also has over 1000+ workouts with 7000+ images and videos to create your own personalized workout plan.
3. Some is Better than None
We’re all busy and sometimes don’t have as much time as we’d like to make it to the gym to exercise. Especially in the winter- you want to be outside doing fun outdoor activities/sports but you’re stuck going to the gym since it’s too cold outside. This isn’t a reason to skip your workout all together. Being active as little as 20 minutes a day will show physical and mental health benefits. HIIT’s are a great, effective workout and are designed to initiate a higher calorie burn in a shorter time period.
BodyBuilder is a great free resource that explains what exactly a HIIT workout is. You can find awesome HIIT workouts from NeiLarey which comes with a free PDF that you can print off and take to the gym with you!
4. Be Conscious of Distractions
A recent study at Harvard University found that the same type of pleasure associated with food, money and sex can be found through social media. The article can be found here: http://wjh.harvard.edu/~dtamir/Tamir-PNAS-2012.pdf. We are more addicted than ever when trying to push through a workout and were checking our phone every five minutes. Put your phone away and be present. Practicing mindfulness will allow you to concentrate on how your body feels during your workout.
5. Mix it Up
In order to maximize results it’s important to alter your workouts every four to six weeks. After this amount of time it is recommended to change your program to prevent your body from plateauing. Not only this, but keeping variety in your workout ensures that you wont burn out so fast and will enjoy working out more.