Top Ten Tips to Make the Most of Your Workout

As featured in the January/February 2013 edition of 11Athletics Magazine in Columbus, Ohio.

Making time to get to the gym, workout or even take a walk isn’t easy; and it seems like a new trend emerges daily to aid in achieving weight loss, health or physical fitness – all guaranteed to work, but most likely to fail. Even if you have committed yourself to realistic expectations involving weight loss, dieting and getting fit, maintaining these goals or committing to them as a lifestyle can be daunting for just about anyone. Why not make the most of the time you spend working towards your health, fitness and weight loss goals? See the tips below for simple yet effective ways to maximize the time you spend working out.

  • Plan out your gym session. Make a list of what you plan to do, for how long and in what order. Keep track of your workouts and progress. If your plan goes awry for one reason or another, you will eventually build up a library with a multitude of options to keep you moving. Writing down your workout ahead of time will minimize time spent floundering at the gym trying to decide what to do next and lets you keep track of your progress – often the biggest motivator – in a simple, organized fashion.
  • Be fully hydrated before working out to avoid cramping and muscle fatigue, but don’t overdue it. Make sure you are drinking about 80 ounces of water continuously throughout the day.
  • Don’t eat sooner than 45 minutes before working out. Make sure you have a good mix of healthy carbohydrates and protein for your body to use as a fuel source.
  • Maintain an 80 to 85 percent maximum heart rate while working out. You can purchase a heart rate monitor with a calorie counter, which can also serve as a huge source of motivation when working out. See what you burn each time you hit the gym.
  • Mix cardio with resistance training to achieve the most benefits for your body. Resistance training helps not only decrease your body fat percentage, but replaces fat with muscle, which should be your ultimate goal. Adding resistance training can be as simple as holding a five or ten pound dumbbell in your hands while you are doing squats.
  • Do your exercises as circuit training so your body never stops moving. The truth is the human body does not like to change once it has become accustomed to one certain thing, even if that thing is exercise. Keep your body guessing by keeping variety in your workout, whether it is changing weights, exercises or the order in which you do things.
  • Use your own body weight as much as you can (squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, dips, etc.). It helps build core strength and you can use it anywhere – gym or no gym! Gym machines should only consist of about 25% of your workout. By incorporating simple body weight exercises in your routine, you will end up burning more calories for longer periods throughout the day. Use your body – after all, it’s what you’re working on to begin with.
  • Utilize interval training. It is one of the most heart-healthy exercise methods because it involves periods of high intensity exercises mixed with low intensity exercises all completed at different time intervals. Interval training helps to increase cardiovascular effectiveness as well as your lactic threshold, when your muscles begin to fatigue due to lactic acid build-up in them. Intervals can be as simple as a three minute aerobic period at high speeds (i.e. on the treadmill), followed by a minute and a half or so at your regular level.
  • While some exercise is better than none, try not to break up your workouts. The ideal fat-blasting sessions should be for 30 minutes at once and not, for example, three ten minute sessions in a day.
  • Make time for rest. Resting is the most neglected part of any successful workout program. Your body does all of its work while you are resting – rebuilding muscles and re-energizing for your next workout. Get at least six hours of sleep at night and space out your workouts so that you are not working the same muscle groups two days in a row.

What are your favorite tips for making the most of your workout? Continue sharing tips in the comments below!

Until the next mile marker,