4 Ways to get the most out of your next workout

Working out regularly is a guaranteed way to improve your health and fitness. But how much you improve, and how quickly, is a variable with a wide range of possibilities. You can get the most out of every workout, however, by incorporating a few simple, tried and tested practices into your workout routine.

Prep Your Muscles

Too often we want to jump right in with the meat of our workout. We’re motivated, we’ve shown up, we’re ready to go. The only problem is, that’s all in our heads. Our bodies haven’t caught onto the program yet, and either we can get our bodies as ready for the workout ahead as our minds, or we can jump right in and force our bodies to play a quick game of catch-up. The better choice, of course, is to prepare our bodies for each workout.

The typical way to do this is by stretching and warming up. However, studies have found that dynamic muscle preparation like squats and leg extensions produced greater stability than standard “bend and hold” stretches. Other active types of muscle preparation include knee bends, lunges, and leg swings.

The typical way to do this is by stretching and warming up. However, studies have found that dynamic muscle preparation like squats and leg extensions produced greater stability than standard “bend and hold” stretches. Other active types of muscle preparation include knee bends, lunges, and leg swings.

Practice Workout Nutrition

Eat right before, during, and after a workout to boost performance. Avoid eating high-fat meals up to four hours before a workout to prevent impairing your ability to gain muscle. Shortly before the workout, however, eat some slow-digesting carbohydrates like whole grains in order to increase endurance and burn more fat. Include a green salad with light or no dressing with that pre-workout meal for extra cardiovascular support.

Another key component of optimum workout nutrition is proper hydration. Our muscles are 75% water, our lungs are 90% water, our blood is 82% water, and our brain is 95% water. It’s been widely reported that a 2% drop in hydration can impair neuromuscular coordination and decrease workout performance by 10-20%. What’s more, according to a study in the US National Library of Medicine, a 3%-5% drop in muscle hydration caused the muscle to lose volume rather than gain volume. The same study also found, however, that replenishing the body’s hydration level by drinking water periodically throughout the workout could prevent that muscle loss.

The same study also found, however, that replenishing the body’s hydration level by drinking water periodically throughout the workout could prevent that muscle loss.

Include Vitamins and Supplements

While nothing can supplement for hard work and dedication, there are certain vitamins and supplements that can help you in those aims. Some vitamins and supplements are conveniently sold by online supplement stores and brick-and-mortar ones as well. While all success does indeed come from within, proven results have shown that supplements can increase workout performance.

A Journal of Nutrition study, for example, found that arginine improves strength-training performance. A simple multivitamin is almost a prerequisite for an optimal workout. Beyond a multivitamin, some other recommended pre-workout supplements include creatine and caffeine.

Wait until 15-30 minutes after you eat your pre-workout meal before taking your pre-workout vitamins and supplements. But be sure to give yourself 45 minutes after you take those vitamins and supplements before you start working out, so that they’re fully digested and absorbed.

Workout Smart

Following a few principles about how, exactly, you work out can help you to get the most out of each workout. If you’re just starting out lifting weights, start slow and ease your way into higher intensity workouts after you’ve developed some more strength and stamina. Once you’ve done that, however, it’s time to start pushing yourself into higher and higher intensity workouts.

Other tips for working out smarter to improve performance include doing one set of any weightlifting exercise to failure instead of two to three lighter sets in order to increase power and muscle gain, switching up your routine and compounding exercises to engage different muscles within the same groups, and exercise in intervals instead of one long session in order to burn more calories overall.

Working out can be made all the more effective by properly preparing your body and mind for the task ahead, and keeping your focus, while working out, on the task at hand. Prepping your muscles, practicing good workout nutrition, incorporating the right vitamins and supplements, and working out smart, are all powerful ways you can make each workout the most powerful workout yet.