When it comes to training, working smarter overrules working harder. While you should give it your all in every workout, laying a strong foundation to support your training is the key to success.
With many people struggling to achieve their fitness goals in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to make every workout count. Here are ten strategies for improving your performance and your results.
Take some time to outline your workouts for the week. Copy them into a training journal or review them on an app to determine what you’ll need to prepare when you’ll schedule them, and what new exercises you need to research.
By having this information readily available before your workout, you’ll be able to focus on the exercise rather than learning as you go. Additionally, it will help you commit to getting your workout done by planning the day and time as though it’s an appointment.
Hydrate in Advance
If you’re starting to drink water an hour before your workout, it’s already too late. Proper hydration starts in the morning for evening workouts and the night before morning workouts. By creating a healthy habit that ensures you’re always hydrated, you won’t have to overthink this issue.
Proper hydration is essential for preventing fatigue, nausea, and stomach problems while engaging in a heavy workout. In addition to water, consider a sports drink or electrolyte mix to ensure you have proper levels of sodium and potassium to prevent cramps and muscle pain.
Use Compound Movements
Compound movements are exercises that engage multiple muscle groups at once. Adding compound exercises, like deadlifts, thrusters, and push presses to your workout routine will help you burn more calories in less time, build full-body strength, and improve your coordination.
Adding compound exercises to your training will get you better results faster, making it an ideal alternative to sweating for hours with isolation exercises.
Supplements aren’t the most important part of a workout. However, they can help fill gaps in your nutrition and improve your recovery once you have the basics down.
Some common supplements to consider include:
- Probiotics – aid with nutrient absorption, digestion, and recovery to improve athletic performance.
- Protein – helps with muscle recovery and hunger satiety while building strength.
- BCAAs – assists with protein synthesis while preventing muscle soreness and stimulating growth.
- Caffeine – provides mental clarity and an energy boost to support intense training.
Supplements will never replace proper nutrition, rest, and form. However, implementing supplements into your training regimen can help you perform better and get the most out of your workouts.
Prioritize Rest and Recovery
Never underestimate the power of a good night’s rest. While you sleep, your body restores your energy levels, heals damaged muscle tissue, and regulates your hormonal function. In other words, getting adequate sleep leads to better performance and better results.
In addition to prioritizing rest at night, consider your rest between sets and workouts. Give your body a full 24 hours between training sessions for the best results. If you’re following a body split program (i.e., targeting different muscle groups on different days), allow 48 hours before revisiting that muscle group.
Finally, be sure to incorporate active rest days into your training program to ensure your body and mind have what they need to push through hard workouts.
Make Time for Mobility
If you don’t make time for mobility work, you’ll have to make time for injury recovery. Mobility is about being able to maintain proper form and strength throughout the entire range of motion during a movement. It’s more than just flexibility; it’s about maintaining healthy muscles, joints, and bones.
Start each workout with a dynamic warm-up that gets your heart rate up and blood flowing. Set aside time to improve your range of motion beyond using a foam roller for 20 minutes.
Eat to Perform
Many people make the mistake of putting restrictive diets and intense exercise together when trying to reach their fitness goals. While a caloric deficit is required to lose body fat, being too restrictive will limit your available energy for exercising and could derail your progress.
Rather than focusing on restriction, consider what you can add to your diet to support your goals. For example, you could focus on adding more protein and replacing refined carbs with sweet potatoes and protein-rich quinoa.
If your goal is to build muscle and strength, you’ll need to eat more to support those goals. There are different approaches for different bodies and different goals— don’t believe the one-size-fits-all nutrition advice.
Ensuring you have food that will fuel your workout is essential to get the most out of your training. Without that energy, you won’t be able to give it your all, and your recovery will be lacking.
Choose the Right Time of Day
Many people wonder if there’s the best time to exercise. The reality is that the best time to exercise is subjective based on your body and schedule. If you can only schedule your workout in the early morning hours before your family wakes up for the day, that’s the best time for you. If you don’t have enough energy first thing in the morning, then a later workout is best for you.
Take some time to experiment and determine which time of day is best for your training. If something changes, change the plan.
Find an Accountability Partner
There’s a school of thought that believes that you can only be truly accountable to yourself. However, having someone with similar goals and interests can help you push a little harder when the going gets tough.
Find someone who is following a similar program and needs a training partner. If working out together in person isn’t possible, stay in contact via text or schedule your training over Zoom.
Track Your Training
Finally, one of the most important things you can do to get the most out of your workouts is to track them. Write down what your program was, the target weights or reps, the actual weights or reps, how it felt, and what factors influenced your session.
Collecting this information will help you identify if any external distractions are getting you off track or if you’re outgrowing your program. It can also be effective in identifying challenges and making plans to overcome them.
With these strategies, you can get the most out of every workout. Remember to do your best every time and know that what you do outside of your workouts is just as important as the exercise itself.