By Tanja M Shaw
Most of us have a limited amount of time to work out, and want to see results. So, it makes sense to try to get the most out of your time at the gym. Today I am going to share three simple tools you can use to make the most out of your workout.
1. Have a plan. It sounds simple, and it is. But, if you go to the gym without a plan, you’ll likely end up wandering aimlessly from cardio machine to strength exercise, haphazardly picking up a few weights without purpose or intent. When your time is up, you’ll head home and miss out on that sense of accomplishment, because you don’t really know what you were trying to accomplish in the first place. Then, you may feel discouraged with your lack of progress. Now, kudos to you for going doing a workout in the first place, but a simple plan will put intent behind your workout, improve your results and give you that feeling of achievement because you completed your plan. It just feels good to check something off! Your plan does not have to be complicated. I will often write up my workout plan for that day as I sip my morning coffee. If you need help getting started, a personal trainer or fitness coach can help you plan your workouts.
2. Workout to a timer. There are times when you will want to count reps for strength, or go out for a steady bout of cardio. However, timing your intervals is an effective way to push your workout to the next level. For example, if you’re doing push-ups and lunges and a bicycle crunch in a set, set your timer for 9 rounds of 40 seconds with a 10 second break. Do as many push-ups as you can in 40 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, then do as many lunges as you can in 40 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and move on to bicycle crunches. Repeat the cycle for two more rounds. The greatest benefit to timed workouts is that it keeps you moving quickly through your workout. Once that beeper goes, you need to start! Without a timer, it’s easy to take increasingly longer rest breaks and eventually lose momentum in your workout. Because you’re moving quickly from exercise to exercise, you can drastically cut down your time at the gym. For instance, the workout example above only takes 7 minutes and 20 seconds to complete. If you complete one more group of exercises (for an additional 7 minutes and 20 seconds), plus a set break, warm up and warm down, you can be done your workout in 25 minutes. Many digital watches will have a countdown timer function or even an interval timer function. My preference, however, is the Simple Interval Timer app, and it’s free! There are many other timer apps available, but the Simple Interval Timer is, well, simple.
3. Track your stats. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. – Peter Drucker. There are two main reasons to track your progress. First, you will improve a lot quicker than if you don’t track, simply because your workouts will naturally become more purposeful and because you know you want to improve a metric, you will push yourself a little harder. When you experience measurable results, you will likely stay motivated to keep going! Second, it’ll give you something to celebrate! Did you beat your 5K time? Did you run further than you did last week? Did you do more push-ups than you did a month ago? Then give yourself a pat on the back, and be proud! Just don’t fall face first into a doughnut or piece of chocolate cake during your party.
There are many ways to measure your workouts. You can simply write down how far you ran one day, and try to improve it. If you are techy, you can find gadgets and apps to help you track your progress. Another way to improve your workout by measuring is to simply count how many reps you complete during your timed workout. In the workout example above, count how many reps of push-ups you completed the first round, and write it down in your 10 second break. Do the same with the other exercises. During round 2, see if you can beat your previous score.
Whether you are just getting started in fitness, or are a seasoned fitness enthusiast, be sure to follow these tips to get the most out of your workout!
Tanja Shaw is the owner of Ascend Fitness Inc., a private training studio. Tanja and her team of expert professionals work to inspire and educate Chilliwack residents to make positive and power changes in their lives through physical fitness and sound nutrition. For more fitness tips go to http://www.ascendfitnesscoaching.com.
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