In this day and age, time is our most limited resource. If you’re finding yourself less and less challenged by your exercise regimen or are not seeing results as quickly as you’d hoped for, the issue might not lie in the duration of your exercise as it could be a case of not maximising your workouts or working out as efficiently as you could have.
From staying hydrated to high intensity intervals, we give you some tips on how to reap the most benefits from your workouts.
Have a Plan
Before you even arrive at the gym, have an idea of which muscles you’d like to strengthen or train, and therefore which workouts you will focus on for that day’s session. Although this may seem redundant, knowing what you will do before you begin your session enables you to make the most of your time in the gym so that you are not meandering between machines, trying to decide what to do next.
Despite this being very basic and a no-brainer, many of us choose to knowingly ignore warm-ups and proceed straight to work out “in the essence of time” — or so we believe. We fail to understand the importance of warm-ups, which helps wake up our muscles and get us off to a stronger start.
Warming up is especially important if you have a habit of working out first thing in the morning, as going from rest (if you’ve just been asleep) to full steam tends to over-exert your heart — and not in a good way. By skipping your warm-up, you are making your heart work harder than it should, hence burning your energy a lot faster and making your workouts less sustainable.
A simple 10 or 15 minute warm up can help take the edge off and ultimately helps you increase your overall calorie burn as you are more active both during and after your workout.
Say Yes to High Intensity Interval Training
Increasing the intensity of your workouts in shorter intervals increases cardiovascular endurance and physical fitness. Opting for HIIT not only shortens the overall amount of time you spend on machines, it also enables you to burn more calories in an efficient manner.
If you’re not sure how to start, begin by doing cardiovascular intervals of 2-3 minutes at higher intensities (increased speed, resistances, etc.), followed by 1-1.5 minutes at your regular or “resting” level. Repeat this 3-5 times and you’ll definitely be breaking a sweat!
Variation is the Spice of Life
The point of a workout is to challenge yourself, and not just in terms of how far or long you can exercise, but in terms of the exercise itself.
Doing the same workout too frequently will cause your body to be used to the movements, consequently making the workout less challenging and you burn fewer calories.
The solution? Mix it up. Whether it’s switching between yoga classes, cardio or weights, even changing the order in which you do exercises can help challenge your body.
It is also important to alternate between the muscle groups you’re exercising; instead of doing a 15-minute session just working your core or your legs, alternate between them.
This technique — called cross-training — enables you to sustain a higher level of intensity when working out a specific area of your body. This ultimately enables you to burn more calories as you’ve given your body a little bit of time to recover between exercises, helping you go 100% each time.
Find Your Motivation!
Sometimes, you might just need another person around to help you make the most of your workout. Getting a workout buddy (aka a Personal Trainer) will surely breathe life into your regular workouts, challenging you in new ways with new exercises.
A Personal Trainer’s direct supervision will not only increase your fitness goal success rate, it’ll motivate you to do better and encourage you to put in all you have during each workout. What's more, engaging a Personal Trainer allows someone with the relevant background and expertise to analyse your body, diet and exercises. With this, a Personal Trainer can formulate workouts that will help you to work out in the most healthy and efficient manner, enabling you to achieve your goals.
It is important to stay hydrated even when not exercising, but it is especially important if you are working out as not drinking enough can limit your performance. The human body is composed of about 70% water, so staying hydrated definitely affects your workouts for the better.
If you know you’re going to hit the gym later, sip water throughout the day and remember to hydrate more after you’ve done all that sweating. It is also possible to confuse hunger with dehydration, so staying hydrated further helps you maximise your exercise as it could prevent you from unnecessarily snacking.
All in all, the key to maximising your workouts is to consider the bigger picture. Though working out may seem like the most obvious part of exercising, what you do before and after definitely helps you maximise every workout.