Whether you’re exercising at home or hitting the gym floor, getting the most out of your workout should be one of your top priorities. An efficient workout session can make you feel better and help you reach your fitness goals faster.
So, how do you maximize the benefits of your workout routine? This will mostly depend on your goals, fitness level, time, and motivation. Not everyone can exercise every day or spend hours at the gym, and honestly, not everyone should. Even if you have only 15 minutes, boosting your workout strategy is just as crucial.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you improve your exercise sessions to get the most out of them. And most importantly, enjoy them even more.
Have a Plan
Almost everything requires proper planning if you want to achieve the desired results. The same goes for your workout regimen. Going to the gym without having a plan in mind is like driving without a final destination. It can be nice, but will it be effective?
Whether you create your workouts by yourself or follow YouTube guides, always know what exercises you’re going to do. This will save you a lot of time and will maximize your efforts.
“The first step is to have a plan in place. Regardless of the setting (gym, home equipment, outdoors), know exactly what you want to accomplish during your workout. Time spent, reps, sets, movements...as much as possible, have it all laid out so you can focus on the task at hand and not waste time figuring out what's next. Whether you write it down on a piece of paper or use an app, don't leave anything to chance.”
Marc Zalmanoff, B.S., Health & Fitness Professional at Marc Z Fitness & Nutrition
Whether you work out once per week or try to do it every day, as long as you're keeping your schedule consistent, you're already contributing to improving your results.
Following a consistent workout schedule will also help your body adjust to the new physical activity levels much faster. It means that jamming a week worth of working out into one day is not the best idea if you want your fitness journey to be healthy as well.
“Having a robust and consistent workout routine has helped me relieve stress, stay focused, and overcome the struggles that come with work. In order to make sure that I make the most out of my routine, I also make sure to prioritize my diet, get enough sleep beforehand, and that I don’t pressure myself too much with my fitness goals.”
Simon Elkjær, Chief Marketing Officer at avXperten
Consider Pre-Workout Drinks
Your body needs enough energy to allow you to do your best when exercising and get the most of it. Pre-workout shakes can help you provide your body with that energy, and as a result, maximize your gym or home workout sessions.
You can also consider taking 200-400mg of caffeine 1-2 hours before your workout. It can help you increase fat-burning, improve endurance, and relieve muscle pain during training.
“If you’ve never tried a pre-workout before, test it at home first. Make sure it doesn’t make you too jittery or feel nauseous. Either of those will inhibit your workout instead of help. Pre-workouts are good for improved muscle gain, muscle endurance, fat usage as an energy source, and a metabolism boost. Don’t just drink any pre-workout. A lot of them are packed with sugar and unhealthy ingredients. Look for something with zero sugar and little caffeine to be sure you won’t get the sugar crash after your workout.”
Jeff Parke, Owner of Top Fitness Magazine
Post-Workout Protein Shake
Protein is essential for the muscle-building process as well as for muscle recovery after your workout. A protein shake is a great way to provide your body with the sufficient amounts of protein it needs to help you grow muscles.
For example, we created Gelpro Collagen Hydrate for those who lead an active lifestyle. It has no gritty taste and is a great alternative to whey-based proteins that may cause bloating in some people.
Collagen powder contains a unique profile of 18 different amino acids, including eight of the nine essential amino acids. We have fortified our collagen with additional L-Glutamine and L-Lysine as well as organic coconut water for added hydration. So, you can easily add it to your post-workout shake to maximize your training and speed up recovery.
“Protein shakes are ideal for post-workout nutrition as they aid in protein synthesis, which is the process of muscle tissue adapting to exercise (e.g., getting stronger and bigger.) Following your shake, you do want a nutritious meal incorporating a good source of protein low in fat like chicken or white fish and a low GI carbohydrate, i.e. basmati rice or sweet potato, to replenish energy levels and help with the repair process. Low GI (Glycemic Index) carbs are a longer-lasting source of energy to fuel your body throughout the day.”
Lachlan Mott, Qualified Personal Trainer and Australian Sports Nutritionist
Keep Things Different
Adding a variety of exercises and types of training to your workout schedule will help you target different muscle groups, increase endurance, lose body fat, and reach that lean body physique. Plus, it will also keep you more interested and invested in your workouts. We all can agree that no one enjoys doing the same exercise over and over again.
“If you want to get the most out of your workout, it should be varied in nature. A workout that's just cardio isn't going to help you as much as one that includes strength training. Even if you're just using resistance bands or dumbbells at home, building and toning muscle should be a part of everyone's fitness routine.”
Rex Freiberger, CEO at Discuss Diets
Don’t Forget to Hydrate
“Remember, working hard is important, but working smart is the real key.
Eating right and working out is no exception to this. Here smart work is defined as the right way to do the right workout at the right time.
Before you even begin your workout, you have to live by one rule that is to hydrate yourself to get the most out of your workout. Availability of water during a workout can help your body in the following ways:
Moreover, staying hydrated can also regulate your body temperature after physical activity.”
Ms Safeena Amjad, Certified Nutritionist
Don't Scrimp on Carbs
If you want your body to perform well during your training sessions, you need to fuel it. One of those essential fuels is carbohydrates. As much as you might want to avoid carbs, by all means, your body needs them to have enough energy and help you push through your workout with success.
You can also try prepping your pre- and post workout meals in advance to save time and always be ready to fill up your body with nutrients.
“While low-carb diets are particularly good for weight loss, they're not great for ensuring your workouts are as productive as they can be. Carbohydrates provide the energy needed to consistently work hard when you work out, so don't go completely carb-free. Just make sure they're coming from good, natural sources like sweet potato, rice, and oatmeal.”
Eamonn Leaver, Registered Psychologist & Founder of The Home Fit Freak
Protein Before Sleep
“Consuming 40 grams of quality whey or casein protein can promote lean muscle growth, increase strength, increase recovery time and improve metabolic rate all while you sleep!
During the night, the body evenly distributes protein around the body, and muscle biopsies have shown a 22% increase in protein synthesis overnight compared to those who consumed a placebo. It also helps decrease hunger in the morning and during sleep keeps fat metabolism high to prevent you from gaining weight. So consume 40 grams of quality protein before sleep to fully recover and set yourself up for success.”
Garret Seacat, C.S.C.S., Owner of Absolute Endurance
“Many people neglect the psychological aspect of their workouts, often droning away to music and simply going through the motions. By actively concentrating on the mind-muscle connection, your brain is recruiting and contracting more muscle fibres during the movement, which results in a more efficient and productive exercise.”
Kirstin Smith, Certified Fitness & Nutrition Coach at Six Smiths Fitness and Consulting
Try Rest-Pause Sets
“Rest pause sets are really effective for workouts as they help you get closer to failure in a way that is easier for most people who struggle to push themselves to failure.
How to perform rest-pause sets?
- Perform a regular set of an exercise with the number of reps you usually do.
- Rest for 20 seconds.
- Perform another set of the same exercise (same weight) but this time go to failure
This method is beneficial for many people because it is not that mentally exhausting to push yourself to the limit (and beyond). It helps you get the benefits of going to failure in a much easier way.”
Robert, Founder of Way of Martial Arts
Working out and getting fit can be an exciting and rewarding process if you approach it with the right mindset. Whether you're exercising to feel better or want to strengthen a particular muscle, making sure to maximize your efforts will help you reach your goals much sooner.
You might have a busy schedule and a million things to do, but you shouldn’t forget that your workout is just as important as anything else. If you treat each of your exercise sessions accordingly and try to get the most out of it every single time, it’ll definitely pay you off.