8 Simple Tweaks for a Better Workout
Looking to maximize your workout time and get the best results? Use these 8 simple tweaks for a better workout, and make the most of your time at the gym.
Get the most out of your sweat-time at the gym.
If you have been doing the same training routine for years, your muscles get stuck in a holding pattern, are less challenged each time you work out. Muscles that aren't working as hard are burning fewer calories. Luckily, there are a few easy techniques and tweaks to make your current workout routine more effective. Use these 8 simple tweaks for a better workout, and make the most of your time at the gym.
Dancers know that in order to really strengthen and work a muscle, you need small, controlled movements. Try adding a small, 1-inch pulse to your lunges, planks, and leg lifts. The smaller the pulse, the more that area of your muscle will fatigue -which is the whole point! Do 25 tiny pulses, just move 1-inch up and back, and see if your legs aren't shaking once you've finished!
Add a burst of cardio, like 15 jumping jacks or high kicks in between sets of curls. When you are sitting and resting from lifting weights, challenging other muscles is a simple tweak for a better workout. Not to mention, when you get your heart rate up higher, you'll release more growth hormone, which causes you to add lean muscle tissue as well as burn fat-at once! Bursts of high intensity exercise where your heart rate gets up in to 85% of your max range will really boost your workout - and your endorphins will soar afterward as well!
Add 5 minutes on the row machine before you leave the gym. This activity demands both strength from your muscles and cardio strength from your heart. Just 5 minutes of vigorous rowing on a machine can burn up to 70 calories - a great way to wrap up your workout. If you are not breaking a sweat after the first couple of minutes rowing - then you'll want to increase your intensity a bit more.
4. Sore Sweat
If you aren't getting sore anymore after a workout, also known as 'delayed onset muscle soreness' -or DOMS - then you most likely need to push yourself a bit harder when it comes time to work out. When you are sore, your muscles are actually rebuilding stronger, with more capacity to burn more calories during the next workout. Rebuilt muscles also burn more calories at rest. Another simple tweak for a better workout? It goes without saying that if your forehead is still dry when you are halfway through your workout-it's time to step it up a notch. Advance your routine by adding more weight, adding a sprint mid-run, or doing a few extra reps.
5. Mental Beat
Tell yourself you can - even when it seems like you need to give up. Try saying "I can" or "I will" to the beat of your workout song, or as you are counting down those last few hard reps. Those are the ones that matter the most. Dig deep, even when everything in your body wants to take it easy. Work hard now, in this moment. Don't let yourself take it easy at the gym. Ever. It's a place to work and work hard.
6. Core It
We've all been in an exercise class and heard "tighten your stomach" or "squeeze your stomach muscles," and it's sometimes hard not to forget to do this. Engaging your abs is possible during almost every workout, even during stretches. To do this, tuck your tailbone under, and bring your hips forward and up, scooping your stomach. A slight bend in your knees, if you are standing, will allow you to tighten your core even more. Keep your core tucked during standing and plank exercises, as well as when you are on weight machines. Start your workout with tucking your tailbone and firing up your abdominal muscles, before you begin any exercise or stretch. This one simple method can help alleviate exercise-induced back pain as well.
7. Un-balance Yourself
If you are doing lunges, instead of having dumbbells in each hand try holding just one on alternate sides. Carrying weight on one side of your body only can really challenge your core in a new way. Using weight to imbalance your workout causes your muscles on the opposite side to work as a counterbalance. You have to stabilize your core to keep from falling over. This targets more muscles than just your quads and hamstrings while you are lunging, making your workout even harder, even though you are carrying less weight.
8. Tune Up
Research shows that listening to music can really improve performance-for runners, playing tunes during your next run can improve your performance by as much as 15%. Choose songs that have 120 - 140 beats per minute for a simple tweak for a better workout. Songs that fall into this range of beats per minute include Bon Jovi's "It's my Life", Journey's "Don't Stop Believin', TV on the Radio's "Wolf Like Me", Ricky Martin's "Livin' la vida Loca", Aviici's "Wake me Up", and the Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack song "Jai Ho".