There are many opinions about what makes a workout effective from trainers all over the world. Here at The Connection, trainers from our Fitness Center got together to create a list that we believe can help you improve your workout.
1) Warm up properly
- 5-7 Minutes of gentle low impact cardio is all you really need. Get the blood pumping, muscles warm, and ready to go.
- Studies are mixed on pre-workout stretching. Do what feels better for you. Some people like to stretch (or use a foam roller) between the warm up and exercise. This may help to release any existing tension prior to starting your workout. (Definitely stretch / foam-roll afterwards, though.)
- It is imperative that you are drinking water throughout the day and replenishing the water that you may lose while sweating and working out.
- It is said that you should drink 8, 8 ounce glasses of water, which is also about half a gallon. However be conscious that you should probably drink more than that as you will be losing water while exercising.
3) Have a structure
- If you know that you can get to the gym at least 3-4x a week, spread out your workout. Need help with that? Ask one of the trainers – we will gladly help you out.
- An example of a structured workout would include doing Push muscles Monday, Cardio if possible Tuesday and Thursday, Pull Muscles on Wednesday, and if you are still feeling good at the end of the week, maybe a full body workout to start your weekend. This gives you at least 48 hours of rest for each muscle group between each workout, and also allows you to target each muscle group at least 1-2x a week. Alternatively, upper body one day, lower body another (ie, working opposing muscles in the same day.)
4) Work the smaller muscles at the end of your workout to avoid fatigue
- Think of the orientation of your body: which muscles are smaller, which muscles are bigger?
- Because a lot of our smaller muscles have less fibers in them, when you work them first you fatigue those muscles so if you go into a workout that works an even bigger muscle you will not have all hands on deck to help you do the work needed.
- Smaller muscles that should be worked towards the end of your workout include but are not limited to, your calves, biceps, triceps, and your abdominal muscles.
5) Compound exercises vs Single Joint Exercises (Functional Training)
- If you are running short on time or want to get the workout in as quickly as possible, do some multi-joint (and multi-plane) exercises instead of single , so you can make your workout more effective.
- For example, instead of doing a bicep curl, do a weighted squat with dumbbells and on the rising phase of the squat, curl the dumbbells, and press them over your head. This way you are working your legs, biceps and shoulders all in one workout as opposed to just working your bicep.
- Or, stand on a bosu ball while lifting weights – thereby engaging your core and balance. Add some twisting or forward/back movement to make the exercise functional, to help you with normal daily movements.
6) Avoid using momentum to move the weight
- If you catch yourself swinging or arching your back a lot during a specific workout, chances are it is too heavy for you, for now, and you can increase the chances of hurting yourself. Work on proper technique, lower the weight or pace of the exercise.
7) Use your core to your advantage
- Your core muscles are the key to maintaining proper balance and coordination. By engaging your core muscles, you allow yourself to perform each exercise without the risk of losing balance and to strengthen the core of your body, which is essential to overall stability and functional movement.
- Inhale at the beginning of the exercises and exhale as you finish the rep to avoid pushing excessive oxygen into your respiratory system, which would result in a tampered workout. An easy way to remember this is to “exhale on the exertion” (the harder phase of the movement, usually when going against gravity.)
- Continue to take deep breaths at the end of each set so that you can recover properly and go back into your next set with a good amount of energy.
9) Recover properly
- After you finish your workout, stretch all of the areas that you worked. Use the foam rollers or review our posters which show you proper stretching techniques.
- Eat a good, nutritious meal (protein, good fats, carbs) after exercise to complement the amount of work that you just put in.
10) Ask a trainer
- Lastly, and most importantly, ask the Trainer on staff for any and all workout advice you may have. We are here to help you ensure proper form and make sure that you are working adequately for your individual goals.
- Our programs are a very good way to help get you started and we are always available to show you different workouts to vary your options a bit.