15 Top Workout Secrets To Get You in Shape
In the fitness realm, you’ll hear all sorts of things that you can do to help get in shape – and sometimes, it can be hard to determine what is actually legit advice, and what isn’t. Let’s check out 15 of the top workout secrets that can actually help you get in shape and reach your fitness goals – one day at a time.
1. Stay Hydrated
We all know we should be drinking water, and during exercise, this is no different. However, ensuring that you’re drinking enough H2O throughout the day will not only help to improve performance but will also play a huge part in muscle growth and recovery.
2. Warm-up and Cool Down
This might not sound like what you need to do to get in shape, but warming up and cooling down are integral parts of a complete workout routine. Incorporating dynamic movements before your workout and then including some static stretching and intentional movement after your workout is key; not only can this help reduce the risk of injury, but can prepare your body for prime movement patterns and aid in the process of muscle recovery.
3. Determine the Best Time of the Day
If you’re an early bird, then maybe when the sun is rising is your best time to workout – and likewise for those night owls – maybe later in the evening is best for you! Play around with the time of day that works for your schedule and your energy levels.
4. Workout at the Correct Intensity
You might think you are working out pretty hard – after all, you are sweating, right? Check again using a method such as the talk test to put things into perspective! Can you have a full-on conversation with your workout buddy while running? Or are you speaking a couple of words at a time? The talk test is an excellent way to estimate just how hard you are working; so next time, if you’re able to tell your buddy all that you had for dinner last night, maybe up your intensity a bit until you can only speak in broken sentences.
Do check with your doctor and ensure that you are okay to workout at a higher level though – and the same goes for the opposite. If you can only speak a word or two, you might be going too hard – so pay attention to what level of intensity is necessary for you to hit your goals appropriately.
5. Grab a Friend
Although not everyone needs or wants a gym or workout buddy, at times it can be helpful – especially when your workout starts at 6 am and you know someone else is waiting at the gym for you to get started. If it helps to hold you accountable, enlist the help of a friend, coach, or trainer who can workout with you, and you can help keep each other on track!
6. Switch Up the Weight Routine
It’s easy to get into a habit when we step into the weight room; a constant rotation of back and biceps or chest and triceps can be par for the course each week. However, your body thrives on new challenges; so even if it is chest day, try stepping away from exercises you would normally do, and incorporate something different!
That being said, if you’re used to bench pressing and an incline dumbbell fly, try diamond pushups and a standing single-arm cable fly – you’re still working your chest, but allowing your body a chance to try new movements.
Although this can be done in several different ways, if you are a runner, you’ll understand what interval training is! Essentially, intervals can be done in a variety of ways. For this example, we’ll use running.
Start at a light intensity jog for a few minutes, then increase your intensity for thirty seconds to a minute. After that, drop back to your lighter intensity pace, alternating this routine for a given amount of time. Not only can you save some workout time doing intervals, but it can also help improve your cardiovascular conditioning.
8. Include a Bit of Everything
A well-rounded workout program will include both strength training and cardiovascular training, with mobility and flexibility included as well. How this will look for each individual person is highly variable and will be dependent on multiple factors, but it can be a good baseline for most adults looking to get healthy and stay active.
9. Find a Workout You Like
This might be obvious to some, but sometimes we get sucked into a workout program we don’t actually enjoy – and let’s be honest, that means the likelihood of sticking to it is very small. If you despise running, then don’t try and wake up early to pound out a few miles – all while hating it. Find an activity you like to do! This might take some trial and error, but finding exercises that are enjoyable will make it a lifelong habit that you’ll actually have fun doing in the future.
10. Incorporate Functional Movement
Your workout plan might already have functional movements included – and if it doesn’t now is the perfect time to start! Think of exercises like squats, lunges, and step-ups, all of which are daily movements that are performed outside of the gym.
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11. Set SMART Goals
In the fitness realm, SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Setting a SMART goal will not only have you hitting your workout goals in the right way but can also help you realize your starting point.
For example, if you want to run a marathon but haven’t completed your first 5k yet, then next month is probably not the appropriate time to sign up for 26.2 miles. Bring out your notepad and your calendar, and be realistic about where you are starting – that way, you’ll know how to crush that final end goal.
12. Get Your Form Down
The proper form and technique – especially when it comes to weightlifting – are essential. Not only will you do the exercise correctly, but you’ll decrease your risk of injury and build strength in the right spots. Enlist the help of a local fitness specialist or trainer if you think your form might be off a bit. They’ll offer advice and get you moving correctly so that you can continue to improve your performance!
13. Be Consistent
Although work and life schedules and routines can vary, having a consistent workout program will help ensure longevity and health. Do you normally workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? Perfect – stick with it for the week. If a random meeting or other appointment pops up during workout time, know that you have the flexibility to move around your days if needed.
14. Keep Your Core Engaged
You might be doing a pushup, but guess what – your abdominals are still working! This muscle group is utilized in just about every exercise that you do, so ensuring that it is engaged properly before performing any movement is key. Think about bracing your core from deep within, instead of just sucking in.
15. Give Yourself Some Grace
It can take a while to reach your fitness goals, whether that is lifting a certain amount of weight, running a specific distance, getting multiple pullups, or even squatting with one leg. Whatever your goals are, be patient and trust the process that you’ll get where you want to be with consistency and practice. One day at a time, work on crushing those goals!
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