If you have a fitness routine, you probably already understand that the time you spend in the gym isn’t what matters.
The workout itself may be the easiest part, but there are other things that ensure you maximize on your results.
These include good nutrition, quality sleep, and taking care of your body during workouts.
Here are 6 things to take care of during workouts that you’re probably not doing, but should be.
1. Use the heavy weights
While it may be an intimidating feeling to venture out to the weight room, especially when there are so many body building types balancing and/or throwing weights around, it doesn’t do you any good keeping to your corner.
Sure, dumbbells have an effect too, but if you don’t use the heavier weights, you end up neglecting a whole set of muscle fibers.
The body has two types of muscle fibers: the slow and fast muscle fibers.
The fast muscle fibers are responsible and important for helping you move quickly and lift weighty objects like you would your purse, bags or suitcases. They’re also important for the stability of your spine and hip.
People having respiratory issues, inflammation in Pharynx etc. shouldn’t try this. As you intensify workouts, your body needs more oxygen. Anatomy of the lungs is such that they respond precisely to oxygen requirements of busy muscles. If lungs fail to meet, it could invite serious health issues.
2. Use your upper body muscles during cardio sessions
How is your typical cardio session like? Does it involve using the stationary bike, treadmill or the stair stepper? Then you’re probably not burning as many calories as you could be.
Using your upper body muscles a lot more can raise your total calorie count, and help you develop endurance better.
You can use machines that have an upper body component, such as a total body elliptical machine, or, you can focus on your upper and lower body alternating both.
For instance, you can use your arms to pump the handles more for a few minutes, and then move with your legs for another few minutes.
Using an upper body arm bike can help you mix things up, or you can also take a Krankcycling class that’ll ensure you raise your heart rate just by using your upper body alone.
3. Push yourself hard enough to get the results you want
No pain, no gain, so they say. But nothing can be truer than that statement, especially when it comes to working out.
You may spend a lot of time at the gym, but hardly do any intense exercises.
Fitness, ideally, should be fun, but if your routine involves a few sets of exercises every day, it is likely that you won’t see the results that you want.
Right off the bat, exercising can be excruciating and tough, even feel unruly. This isn’t so much fun as it looks when watching it from your television or smart device.
However, once you teach your body and it learns to do several exercise movements, and your stamina and strength are improved, you need to upgrade your workout program.
As you increase to more vigorous activity levels, it brings about more health benefits and you start noticing improved appearance, and fitness.
You also don’t have to spend so much time at the gym to achieve this. In fact, the more you focus on quality for your workout, you may end up spending less time than you do at the moment.
Interval training was developed to handle this issue with a range of intensity levels, most of which go as high as 85 percent or hit your maximum heart rate.
Learn to push yourself in the right way, and you could land the advantage of higher metabolism, meaning your extra effort rewards you with an extra energy burn.
4. Protect your back
Your back is probably not at the top of your mind whenever you start working out. Most of our focus tends to be targeted while exercising like working our abs using crunches, or challenging our arms with the free weights.
Although these may be inevitable, because you get to choose some moves and activities, you need to remember that as you strengthen one part of your body, another part, mostly the back, could be strained.
The lower back is vulnerable. Ensure not to hurt it by straining it during workouts. Although lower back exercises focus on working on this part of your back, whatever exercise you do taxes it in one way or another.
There’s a collection of muscles in your back that are involved in turning, standing, bending and other movements, whether you feel it or not.
Make a few simple tweaks to your workout regimen to ensure that you protect your back from pain, and possible injury as you focus on strengthening other muscle groups.
5. Stretch before you leave
A post workout stretch is one of the most common mistakes that people who exercise make by skipping it.
Stretches are done after you work out, because at that time, your muscles are warm and flow with blood rich in oxygen.
These should be done at least thrice a week.
You can begin by stretching the front side of your body as tighter muscles reduce flexibility in the back.
As little as two stretches just before you leave the gym can make all the difference. Some of these include heel to glute stretches, and prone abs stretches.
6. Change direction while working out
Treadmill workouts are quite effective in fat burning but for better results, mix it up.
If you tend to always move forward while on the treadmill, bike or elliptical, change to sideways and backwards directions.
Most people are used to moving in one plane of motion – forward – but you can burn even more calories and activate the muscles you use less like hamstrings, shins, or outer hip muscles by turning your walk, jogging sideways and/or backwards.
You can try walking or jogging forward for a few minutes then turn to the side for a few seconds, and go back to the forward stride for another few minutes.
You can do this on a stationary bike or elliptical too, by pedaling backwards in intervals.
By mixing things up, your body pumps your heart rate up higher causing you to burn more calories.
By ensuring your body is warmed up, worked out, and cools down in the right way, you can maximize your workout results that you have set for yourself.
As much as it may sound strange, fitness is a lifestyle, and it doesn’t start or end with an actual workout.
It is holistic, revolving around your fitness regime, nutrition, sleep, and much more. Adopting healthy habits in addition, would ensure that you go a long way, especially from fitness perspective.