Workout Tips

This section of our health library is devoted to – you guessed it – workout tips! Learn about all things fitness in these articles that are designed to help you get up and get moving, regardless of your physical ability.

11 Tips for the Most Effective Workouts

Looking to maximize your workout time and get the best results? Use these 11 tips for better workout and to make the most of your time at the gym.

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Spending countless time in the gym and still searching for the results?

You may need to switch things up a bit.

And luckily, there are a few easy tips to make your current workout routine more effective.

11 Workout Tips for Maximum Results

From going back to basics to tracking progress in the gym, use these 11 tips for the most effective workouts.

1. Go back to basics.

Gyms often sport fancy equipment. While most are useful, you can get a really effective workout without them. What's more, you can still lose weight, build muscle, and reap many other health benefits tied to exercise.

Some of the most basic exercises still target major muscle groups, including the chest, back, shoulders, arms, and legs. Pullups, pushups, and squats are just a few very effective exercises to include more of.

If new exercise, seek out the assistance of a personal trainer. They can help you nail down the proper form and movement such as safe pushup position and execution.

2. Track progress in the gym.

Any workout is said to be better than going without. But you can stay fairly stagnant without tracking progress in a workout plan.

With any exercise, track the progress you make each time. For instance, if a fitness goal is to increase pull-up reps, record how many you complete each time. The next time tackling them, aim for the same number of reps and try for more.

Seeing the progress you make in the gym is also a great way to stay motivated.

3. Add pulses into workouts.

Dancers can vouch 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 a shared goal among many exercises.

Do 25 tiny pulses, just move 1-inch up and back, and see how much the legs are shaking once finished!

4. Slow down the movement.

In addition to small movements, they should be slower in nature. Besides, speed should not always be the top priority, especially when it comes to strength training.

It is best to slow down the movement and truly focus on form and the contraction of the targeted muscle.

5. Lift weights with an appropriate weight and rep range.

Lifting weights but not seeing improvements in muscle size, shape, and strength? You might be undershooting an appropriate weight and rep range.

Take bicep curls for example. If focusing on an 8 to 12 rep range and still feel like you can crank out several more, you should. Or, increase the weight for a heavier workload.

6. Tune-up with music.

Research shows that listening to music can really take a workout to the next level. In fact, tunes during your next run can improve performance by as much as 15 performance!

Choose songs that have 120 to 140 beats per minute for a better workout. A variety of songs that fall into these recommendations include:

• "It's My Life" - Bon Jovi

• "Don't Stop Believin" - Journey

• "Wake Me Up" - Avicci

• "Beat It" - Michael Jackson

• "All of the Lights" - Kanye West

• "Applause" - Lady Gaga

• "Little Lion Man" - Mumford & Sons

7. Give HIIT workouts a shot.

While there are many types of workout, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) shows to be exceptionally powerful.

HIIT features intensive bouts of movements to elevate the heart rate and stimulate the muscles for a short duration. This full-body Tabata workout, a type of HIIT, is a great example of how the process works.

The high intensity of the workout torches calories and works the muscles effectively and quickly. This makes it valuable for those crunched for time.

8. Add isometric training.

Isometric exercises are a strict form of weight training. But in isometric exercises, the muscle does not change length or contract. Adding isometrics can be especially useful in maintaining strength and enhancing stabilization.

Isometric exercises are mostly low-impact and do not require a full range of motion. This also makes them valuable for those managing arthritis and other conditions that provoke pain.

9. Off-balance your workouts.

Isometric training is a great way to enhance stability, but so is intentionally throwing yourself off-balance.

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.

For example, if doing reverse lunges, hold one dumbbell on the alternative side rather than having one in each hand. This targets more than the legs while lunging, as you have to stabilize the core to keep from falling over.

10. Make sure to fuel properly.

A workout is key to activate muscles and elevate heart rate. However, proper fueling is equally, if not more, important than the workout itself.

Key diet recommendations often involve:

• Eating a light snack balanced in protein and complex carb within an hour or two before a workout. This helps supply the body with fuel and lowers the risk of fatiguing quickly.

• Pairing a protein and a carb-rich snack or light meal to help optimize muscle recovery, especially after a lifting session.

• Balancing the diet with lean protein, fiber, and healthy fat on a regular basis. The balance of nutrients helps the body maintain a healthy weight while supporting and growing muscle mass.

Maintaining hydration is also paramount for overall health and physical performance. Water is required to form the structures of protein and glycogen, key components of muscle-building. Adequate hydration also reduces the risk of severe muscle cramping and negative stress on the joints.

As a general rule of thumb, try to drink half your body weight in ounces per day. So if you weigh 150 pounds, aim for at least 75 ounces of water. Twelve ounces of that water should come immediately prior to exercise and an additional 12 ounces should be consumed for every 15 minutes of active training.

Use sports drinks as appropriate, too, which are usually for endurance-type activities such as running and biking.

11. Give the body the rest it needs.

No, resting does not mean resting on your health goals. And hitting the gym seven days a week will not necessarily lead to quicker progress.

In fact, overdoing it may hinder progress, as injury risk increases if trying to lift too heavy or sprint too quickly. So gradually progress and be patient with results.

Truly, the ability to add more weight and run quicker will naturally follow when remaining consistent with exercises. Also give muscle groups at least a day or two of recovery to prevent injury, while also listening to the body.

If feeling incredibly sore, take the day off! But if itching for some sort of exercise, incorporate active recovery in your workout regimen. This may include practicing yoga or taking a hike out in nature.

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Medically reviewed By Jake Berman, PT, DPT. Published on November 20, 2015. Updated on September 17, 2019.

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