If you don’t have focus, determination and a goal to work towards during your workout time, you might find that you don’t really end up achieving all that much, no matter how much time you spend in the gym. Whether your goal is to fit into a special dress, gain some definition in your arms, or to bench press your own weight, having a plan of attack is an excellent way to help keep yourself on track to achieving your fitness goals.
Yet there is more to it than just having a goal to work towards… It is about HOW you work towards your goal that determines your rate of success.
Here are some key tips you can use to help you make your workout time count!
Commit Yourself - Like with most things in life, you get out what you put in. So if you have a goal in mind, then commit yourself to it. You are not going to get fitter and healthier by sitting around eating crisps and watching daytime TV, wishing for a fitter body. So once you have made the choice, commit yourself and keep yourself accountable!
Write a schedule - Having set routines might not suit everyone’s personality, but when it comes to achieving goals it really is important to prioritise some time to focus on it. Write out a workout roster for your week so that you don’t end up skipping it. This way you can be more focused and present in the times that you have allocated to exercise.
Fuel up - Heading to the gym when you are running on empty is a rookie mistake. You cannot expect your body to be able to push past your comfort zone when you have little to no energy left to fuel you on. Try to eat a low GI complex carb or protein snack an hour or so before your workout so that you know you will have all the energy required to push on. If you need a little extra go, then try green tea or a pre-workout supplement just before you start training, to give you that caffeine kick you may need.
Mix it up - If you only pick exercises you know and love, then chances are you find them comfortable because you are probably already quite good at them. It is important to challenge yourself with other exercises so that you avoid plateauing. I recommend you incorporate a balance of both exercises you love and ones that really challenge you so that you can enjoy your workout, as well as really benefit from it!
Warm up - Warming up your body with dynamic movements that focus on the body parts you will be working (e.g. skipping before leg training) will help stimulate the blood flow to these muscles, increasing your movement, flexibility and helping protect yourself against injury.
Track your progress - Keeping an exercise diary to record your exercises, sets, reps and weights used for each training session will give you something to compare your effort to next time. Ideally, you want to work to compete against yourself so that you can gradually push yourself to progress!
Healthy competition - Workout buddies are a great way to motivate yourself to push harder because they offer a little healthy competition as well as a whole lot of encouragement and support.
Consolidate your focus areas - Utilize total-body compound movements to make the most out of restricted time, so that you don’t neglect any major muscle groups and can get the most out of your workout time.
Active recovery - Rest days are an important consideration when working towards maximising your results because your muscles need time to rest and repair after a challenging workout, before you challenge them again. This doesn’t mean you have to sit around doing nothing though! Use active recovery, or low impact exercises, on your rest days. Swimming, walking and cycling are all excellent forms of active recovery.
Warm down - Don't forget to stretch out your muscles after an intense training session to help reduce DOMS and to help drain away any lactic acid that has built up in your muscles.
If you incorporate these tips into your training then you are well on your way to getting everything you can out of each and every training session!