Our time is precious — there’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. So if you’re going to spend an hour in the gym, you might as well make it time well spent. And sometimes that can be tricky.
Whether you’re a newbie, fitness class enthusiast or a die-hard gym fan, there are few foolproof ways to make your workout as efficient and enjoyable as possible. Here are ten secrets to making the most out of your workout:
1. Come prepared
We’ve all seen that guy near the bench press with his little black notebook double-checking what move he should make next. Well, now it’s your turn to become that guy. There’s a lot to be said for someone that walks into the gym confident and organized. Just like work or school, the determined folks are often more efficient with their time and which leads them to the end result quicker. The same rules apply here.
2. Roll it out
Foam rollers are the new “in” trend — but quite frankly, they’ve always been cool in our book. Whether you choose to attend a foam rolling class or just roll it out at home, it’s crucial that you give your muscles TLC and get rid of any tension your body is carrying around. On the plus side, you’ll be more relaxed, which will result in a better night’s rest.
3. Pack your gym bag ahead of time
Sometimes it’s the little things that get in the way of a good workout. Ease your worries and get in the right mindset by preparing your bag ahead of time — or better yet, keeping a full bag stocked at all times.
4. Track your progress
And we’re talking about more than just a mirror selfie. After each workout, mark down how heavy you lifted, fast you ran, and more. Over time, you’ll see how far you’ve come and also find room for improvement. If you’re looking to tone, bulk up or shed a few pounds, taking weekly photos are a great indicator of your progress. It’s simply an additional motivator!
5. Bring your fitness bestie
There’s truly something special about braving a boxing class with your best friend by your side (while throwing a few punches their way). Best friends can make even the toughest workouts seem bearable. Scheduling classes with your friends in advance will hold you accountable and even get you excited about attending class.
6. Push yourself (even when you think you’ve had enough)
How many times have you been in a workout class and felt like your body just couldn’t keep going? Your arms may be shaking. Or your breath is becoming heavier. And how many times did your body actually call it quits? More than likely, it hasn’t happened to you. Our bodies are tougher than we give them credit for. Even when we think we’ve had enough, they surprise us and show us what we can really handle. Practice mind over matter to give yourself the motivation to keep going.
7. Find what works best for you
There’s a reason why everyone always says this. The daily gym grind isn’t for everyone, and neither is a hot yoga class. With fitness apps like ClassPass, you can mix up your routine and try out different classes until you find what’s best for you. Or you might find that you like variety (spoiler: most of us do).
8. Snooze every now and again
Rest is vital to building your strength and stamina. Being on the go constantly will burn you out and make you less apt to carry on working out in the future. If you feel like you’re running on empty (even after a few cups of coffee in your system), take a day off. You’ll become stronger for it.
9. Switch it up
If you run the same path every day, you’ll see very little progress in your stamina and body composition. And the same goes for weightlifting. Switching up the direction of movement, especially, is a great way to see major results. Fun fact from an article in Shape: “We are so used to moving forward in one plane of motion, but research on treadmill exercise has shown that you can burn more calories and activate lesser-used muscles such as your outer hip muscles, shins, and hamstrings if you turn your walk or jog sideways and backwards.”
10. Stretch properly (and often)
Do not be the person who skips out on the last few minutes of class so they can be first in line for the shower — it’s not worth the extra five minutes. Your body needs to stretch, just like it needs to work. Stretching is another way to give your body back all that it gives you on a daily basis. If you’re struggling to figure out the proper ways to stretch, check out a yoga or pilates class to learn the benefits of elongating your body.