Tips for optimal exercise performance and staing motivated.
1. Warm up and stretch
Your muscles are like cold elastic bands prior to a workout – they must be prepared properly by doing some light cardio followed by stretching. This will help prevent injuries and optimize your performance during the workout. The same thing must also be done after the workout, by the time which muscles have become all tense, in order to loosen them up and aid in recovery.
2. Practice proper technique
Every exercise must be done with proper form to prevent injuries and maximize results. If you are uncertain of a certain exercise technique, you can either consult a personal trainer, or fitness articles on the internet or in magazines.
3. Keep workouts at approximately one hour
Working out for too long depletes glycogen stores, your workout will become less efficient and your body will eventually turn to muscle tissue for energy supply.
4. Pre-, mid-, and post-workout nutrition
Proper nutrition and timing is necessary to fuel you for your workout and for recovery. Typical pre-workout meals should be consumed 60 to 90 minutes beforehand, and include a slow-releasing carbohydrate and protein. During the workout itself, a fast-digesting carbohydrate source such as a Gatorade or a gel pack can be consumed. Immediately after the workout, a fast-digesting carbohydrate source and fast-digesting protein (i.e. protein shake) can be consumed to shuttle nutrients into the muscle to aid recovery.
5. Do a variety of workouts
Variety is important for well-rounded fitness. Aerobic exercises (running, swimming, biking) are for cardiovascular health, muscle endurance, and weight loss, whereas anaerobic exercises (resistance training) increase bone strength and density, build muscle, boosts metabolism and contribute to good posture. During resistance training, make sure to train antagonistic muscles (i.e. quadriceps and hamstrings) to prevent muscle imbalances.
6. Get a workout buddy
A workout buddy provides motivation and friendly competition, and may be a significant help you stay committed to working out on a consistent basis. This is especially useful for anyone who is a beginner.
7. Set goals and create a workout plan
Setting goals and creating the adequate workout plan will save you time in the gym and give you faster results. Workout plans can be found online, in fitness magazines, and can even be self-created.
8. Keep a workout log
Monitoring your progress over long periods of time can help you gain a sense of achievement and self-satisfaction, and motivate you to achieve further goals.
9. Turn it a habit
Exercising should be a part of (almost) everyday life, like brushing your teeth and taking a shower. Not having time should not be an excuse!