7 More Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Workouts

In the previous post I offered some tips to help you get the most out of your workouts. The more you do to support your workouts, the more effective they'll be and the better the results.

You can check out that post here before reading on.

1. Use your body as your machine. Those workout machines at the gym may help to grow your muscles but they don't necessarily encourage "smart" muscles that function well outside of the gym environment. Body weight exercises can help your muscles learn how to work together in the most efficient manner so that you not only look good, you move and feel better as well. Exercises like pullups, pushups, burpees and lunges can be done most anywhere, require minimal space, don't need outside resistance and encourage bone density, which decreases the risk of osteoporosis. They're also great for getting a total body workout in a short period of time.

2. Schedule according to your taste. While research has suggested morning exercise encourages fat loss and favors the evening hours for optimal performance, the truly perfect time to workout is actually whenever you'll do it. For most people it's enough of a challenge just to make time each week to workout. No need to struggle to get up before the sun comes up if you're not a morning person, or miss your evening sessions because you continually get caught up at work. It's far more important to exercise consistently, so choose times that fit into your schedule.

3. Add a soundtrack. Most of our favorite movies and TV shows add music for a reason. It helps to set the mood and tone for what we're experiencing. You can enhance your own workout experience by doing the same. Research has shown that listening to music while you workout can help you to go harder, feel stronger and last longer. When I was a group exercise instructor I use music to create an atmosphere for success for the class using music; motivational music in the beginning, perhaps, driving music when the intensity got hard and soothing music during the recovery period at the end. Find music that you like and that makes you feel inspired and match it to your workouts to encourage your own atmosphere of success.

4. Be consistent. The effects of each workout are cumulative. You could have the best workout program in the world but you'll never experience the results you want if you don't do it regularly. For optimal results, strive to do cardiovascular exercise 3-6 times each week and resistance training for each body part twice per week.

5. Breathe. It may seem like a no brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people don't know how to breathe properly. Try this now: take a deep breath. Did you effectually "sniff" the air, or did you correctly draw air in slowly for 4-8 counts? During strenuous exercise, many people tend to hold their breath (during resistance training) or pant uncontrollably (during cardio). To function most efficiently, however, muscles require oxygen, so it's important to monitor your breathing throughout your workout. Strive to take full breaths periodically during cardio sessions and exhale during the toughest part of the exertion when weight training.

6. Eat a small snack about an hour before your workout. Proper fueling will help give you the energy you need to perform fully during the session. It'll also help ensure that your stomach is not too full, lessening the chance of cramping. Click here to view snack ideas.

7. Recovery. Exercise temporarily stresses the body causing it to remodel itself to be better in the future. It's during this time that you actually gain strength and ability. For best results, help your body recover well by getting at least 7 hours of sleep, drinking 8 cups of water, and eating at regular intervals. Body work, such as self myofascial release and massage, as well as stretching are also very beneficial.

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