Working out regularly is part of an overall healthy lifestyle, but are you making the most of your workouts? Timing, supplements, types of workouts, and diet are just a few items that play a big role in how effective your workout is. If you don’t actively maximize your workouts, you could be wasting time, money, and effort. There are numerous reasons you may not be seeing the results you want as quickly as you want—but fortunately there are also six easy ways to optimize your fitness efforts.
- Consume at least 20 grams of protein immediately after strength training. The goal of strength training whether with weights or body weight sessions like TRX is to distress the muscles causing tiny tears that are then re-built. If you want to increase muscle size (hypertrophy) or “tone up” (increase or sustain muscle size while decreasing fat), your muscles need to be fed after they’re traumatized in order to heal larger. The sooner after a strength session that you get in at least 20 grams of protein, the better. You’ll also need to consume at least the same amount of protein in grams as your body weight to sustain muscles, and up to twice as many to bulk up (i.e. a 200-pound person needs at least 200 grams of protein per day).
- Sip on BPAA infused water before, during, and after workouts. Your body naturally has amino acids, including the BPAA variety. However, your body quickly depletes these acids during any type of workout, particularly cardio. They’re necessary to avoid excessive soreness and fatigue, helping your body to recover faster. It’s all natural and you can’t overdose on BPAAs.
- You’re drinking your calories. Alcohol damages the body and actively contradicts what you’re trying to achieve in the gym. Drinks are full of empty calories that force the body to cling to fat instead of burning off excess fat. Plus, it can cause binge drinking, poor sleep, and keep you from sticking to your gym schedule. Instead, gain a buzz naturally like a runner’s high or the natural endorphin rush after a good lifting session.
- Take a rest day—but just one or two. Rest days are critical for the body to heal and repair, however only one or two per week is necessary (ideally spaced out). Rest days aren’t necessarily “off” days though, but rather days where you go light and gentle. A recovery day of yoga, bike riding, or pilates class, or other softer version of what you love to do is a great way to keep the body moving without over-stressing it.
- Match your diet to your goals. You’ve heard it said plenty of times: You can’t out-run a bad diet. That goes for lifting, cycling, Zumba, and any other workout that’s part of your routine. Diet makes up the majority of how your body responds. You need high protein, good fats, and smart carbs as well as a reasonable caloric intake for you and your goals. Seeing a nutritionist can help you map out a diet that’s delicious, filling, and sustainable. Cheat days have also gone overboard, with some people using them as an excuse to binge. Instead, consider a “cheat meal” and be honest with yourself. Cheat meals don’t need to be empty calorie bombs.
- Work out when it’s best for you. Some studies might show it’s best to workout fasted first thing in the morning while others suggest evening or afternoons are best. In reality, few people have the flexibility to be able to plan their workouts around research. Instead, identify a time at least five days per week where you have the time, the energy, and the motivation to get a workout in. That’s what matters, and it’s what will make you more inclined to stick to it.
Also, remember that the body gets used to certain movements and exercises. Shake up your routines at least every eight weeks. Try out a new class, switch up your lifting routine, or go outside instead of staying with the same indoor cardio machines. It won’t only keep your body guessing, but will also keep boredom at bay.