Springtime is quickly approaching, and most people are welcoming the warmer weather. As you swap your winter coats for swimsuits, your focus might shift to getting into shape. Fortunately, many gyms are beginning to open again as COVID vaccines become available and cases decline. If you’re opting for a new workout regime, be sure to make your gym time count. Here are seven tips for enhancing your workout session.
- Fuel Your Body
If you’re aiming to trim down before summertime, you’re likely already thinking about what and how much you’re eating. However, HealthMarkets notes the importance of when you eat in relation to exercise. What you eat before, during, and after your workout can make a big difference in your results. Here is a quick overview to get you started:
- Before: complex carbohydrates like whole wheat toast with fruit or Greek yogurt and granola
- During: more carbohydrates, especially if your workout is longer than 1 hour
- After: lean protein like a hardboiled egg, a glass of chocolate milk, or salmon
The science behind these suggestions has to do with how the macromolecules (carbs and proteins) are broken down. Your body breaks down carbs into glucose that fuels your cells. Eating healthy carbohydrates before and during your workout will give you the energy to perform at your best. Eating protein after a workout will help replenish glycogen and repair muscle fibers that may have been damaged.
- Prioritize Hydration
Along with eating the right foods at the right time, be sure to hydrate properly. HealthMarkets recommends drinking two cups of water about two hours before exercising. Then, have another cup 15 minutes before beginning your workout. Continue to drink water while exercising to fuel your body’s cooling system. If your workout lasts longer than an hour or you sweat a lot, consider a sports drink. While water is generally the best choice for shorter workouts, sports drinks can replace carbs and sodium lost during prolonged exercise.
- Find Your Motivation
If swimsuit season isn’t enough motivation, find something that makes your workout worth it or more fun. Perhaps it’s a new pair of shoes or new gym attire. For other people, a high-energy playlist just for exercising will boost their motivation. Find songs that pump you up or an intriguing podcast that will help pass the time. Crank up the volume then turn your phone on airplane mode to avoid distractions.
- Make a Plan
Avoid going to the gym with no plan in mind. Instead, create a layout of what your workout will look like for the day. Perhaps you opt for a group fitness class, a set amount of time on the treadmill, or a specific weight regime. Try completing the most difficult or disliked exercises at the beginning to avoid skipping out early. You may even consider finding a workout partner: work with them to create a workout plan and to hold each other accountable.
- Incorporate Variety
When creating your workout plan, be sure to include variety in the exercises you’re doing. In addition to bench presses, bicep curls, and squats, include exercises like short head bicep exercises to engage the muscles differently. While you may love to run, aim to incorporate at least some form of strength exercises. An ideal plan includes a balance of both strength training and cardio exercises.
Not sure where to begin? Here are a few well-rounded sample workout plans created by fitness experts. Variations in your routine will keep you from getting bored while boosting your results.
- Set Specific Goals
Think about your personal goals for working out: maybe you want to fit into an old pair of jeans, tone up for your new bikini, or just improve your cardiovascular health. Write down your goal and refer back to it often. Track your progress over a few weeks and see where your workout regime may need to be refined. Recognize that setbacks will happen and while you should never ignore pain, you’ll likely be sore or tired some days. Aim to power through the best you can with your end goal in mind.
- Remember to Rest
Consistency is key to seeing results from your workout regime. However, exercise in moderation and sufficient rest can keep you from overdoing it or getting burned out. Build active recovery days into your workout plan. Trade a tough workout for a leisurely walk, gentle stretching, or restorative yoga. Consider using a foam roller on days off (and after workouts!) to massage soft tissues and speed recovery. Lastly, be sure to get enough high-quality sleep each night. Sleep allows your body to build muscle tissue and ensure you have enough energy for your next workout.
Boost Your Workout with a Few Key Steps
No matter your fitness goals this season, be sure you’re taking the proper steps towards achieving them. From eating well and hydrating to building variation into your plan, there is no doubt you will begin to see results. Find what motivates you, and don’t forget to rest after all of your hard work!