Whether you’ve just started working out or you’re a long-time gym buff, it doesn’t hurt to stop and take stock of your current workout routine. Ask yourself a few key questions. What are your goals? Is your current plan getting you closer to it? Has new research yielded anything of use to you? It goes without saying that how you enhance your workout will depend on what kind of workout you’re doing, but we’ve rounded up a few general tips that can help you make the most of those crucial hours at the gym.
Get Better Results from Your Workout
Caffeine can Help
For those that work out in the morning, this may be part of your routine anyway, but did you know that caffeine does more than just help you stay awake? Caffeine is the most frequently used ‘drug’ in sports, with good reason. When taken pre-workout, caffeine can increase the body’s ability to burn fat and causes some amount of resistance to muscle pain while training. It can also increase endurance. If you’re not into coffee or tea, try caffeine supplements to enhance your workout. Studies have shown that they may work better than caffeinated drinks too.
Use CBD for a Better Workout
CBD or cannabidiol is the hottest fitness supplement on the shelves, more so after the recent legalization of hemp. This derivative of the hemp plant is completely non-psychoactive (so it can’t get you high). It's gaining popularity in high-performance fitness regimens for many reasons. For starters, CBD supports the endocannabinoid system or ECS. The ECS is a system that brings balance to the body’s other systems, including the endocrine system that controls hormones. If you want to increase muscle tone, it’s important to make sure that your catabolic hormone (hormones that reduce protein synthesis) levels are balanced, especially cortisol. Cortisol tends to spike when exercising - which is a bad thing because it can prevent muscle building. Luckily, CBD can counteract cortisol spikes to a degree, thus helping you to get the results you desire. CBD can also balance out blood sugar levels. This leads to more energy, healthier sleep, better flow, and reduced post-workout inflammation for faster recovery. Just add some to your pre-workout shake to enhance your workout and you’re good to go!
Music and Movement
Music isn’t just great for dancing, it’s good for any kind of movement. Neuroscientists believe that this is because of the way the human brain perceives rhythmic sounds – parts of our brain that control movement, and synchronized movement specifically, get engaged. Studies have shown that even experienced bodybuilders are able to complete a couple more sets while listening to music than they are without. Next time you’re tempted to skip a workout because you’re too lazy, put on your most upbeat mix for a little boost.
Light can be Right!
A lot of classic gym trainers will tell you to use heavier weights even if it means doing fewer reps. However, new studies have good news for those of you who prefer the lighter stuff! Light weights and more repetitions (until the point of fatigue) can provide the same muscle growth as lifting heavy weights with fewer reps. In fact, if you’d like to use no weights at all, bodyweight exercises and using resistance bands also provide the same benefit – as long as you’re fatiguing the muscle. This is a common technique used by women who biohack. A handy tip if you're just starting out and looking for ways to enhance your workout.
While it may seem like the norm to work out first thing in the morning, if you skip breakfast, this can actually be counterproductive. Working out on an empty stomach could mean that you aren’t able to work as hard as possible, and the drop in blood sugar could even make you faint. It’s also important to eat a while before any workout so you don’t feel excessively hungry after. It’s normal to want to treat yourself after an intense session, but the chances of you reaching for the most sinful options is lower if you aren’t already starving.
Reduce Your Rest
Those just starting out with exercise will probably want to take this step slowly. Typically, a rest of 90-120 seconds between sets is standard when you start out, but if you’re looking to build endurance, reduce your rest time every week until you have it down to 30 seconds. Once you’ve mastered this skill, start taking your rests only when you feel like you cannot go on any further. Rest for the least amount of time possible, and get back at it. By the end of your workout, your muscles will probably be burning, but it’ll be worth it!
Getting adequate carbs and proteins after a workout is something far too many people ignore, especially those with busy day jobs. But this can ultimately be detrimental for your muscle progress. Proteins and carbohydrates replenish lost glycogens and facilitate tissue repair so you can recover faster. If you can’t fit a whole meal in, opt for a protein shake to boost synthesis.
Measure your Progress
If you’re working out because you love being active, more power to you! However, if you have a specific goal in mind, whether it’s gaining weight, losing weight or just toning muscle, tracking your progress by regularly weighing or measuring yourself can be a truly gratifying and motivating task. More importantly, you can change specific parts of your diet and exercise routine to see whether it has any impact on your goals! It’s important not to get too caught up in the image. The point is to enhance your workout and see how far you’ve come.
Exercise Muscle Groups
Compound moves or moves that use more than one joint/muscle group (think squats, pull-ups, push-ups) are great if you’re looking to build endurance and stamina. For muscle gains, isolation is always key. If that isn’t your goal, opting for compound moves is the best option since they stimulate large muscle groups together, causing more even stimulation and stronger growth.
Get Some Shut-Eye!
Prominent online coach and fitness guru Caroline Biddle says, “Sleep is so important for your body to recover from not only training but also our daily activities! Sleep is a time where our body resets, our digestion gets a rest, and our muscles recover. Sleeping is an important factor in anyone’s fitness journey.”
The most important part of any workout plan is your commitment to it. No amount of supplementation or technique will help if you’re working out sporadically. Moreover, it’ll only cause your muscles to hurt more every time you do exercise. Whether you hit the gym isn’t as important as just getting active, even if that means doing jumping jacks in your bedroom. So take a deep breath, get out of bed, and get moving!