How to Get the Most from a Workout
How to Get the Most from a Workout
Form and Intensity
by Paul Bedford
Keeping fit and in shape might be necessary on health grounds or simply preferable for your day-to-day life, but we are not all natural gym-goers with a propensity for hours of workout dedication. Which is why it’s all the more important to ensure you are exercising correctly and actually getting the most from your time at the gym. That depends on two crucial factors: the perfect form and the correct intensity
NEUTRAL SPINE SWITCH ON THE CORE
First – stop the slouching! It’s imperative that you get your posture correct from the start – it will set you up for a better, more efficient workout. Keeping a neutral spine (the three natural curves that are present in a healthy spine) when exercising will firstly help to engage your core, get an equal balance of your muscles throughout your body, help increase strength and will lower the risk of any injury occurring during your workout. So bring your abdominals in towards your spine and pull yourself tall imagine you head is been pulled up by a line of string.
How to get the Most from a Workout: “Set short-term and long-term goals”
Make sure you set goals for your training. This will help maintain focus and motivation which are key elements in improving performance. Set your goals, write them down and stick them on your fridge, notice boards or even your desk a t work – anywhere where you can see them daily. Set both short-term and long-term goals for your training and – importantly make them achievable.
IT’S ALL ABOUT FORM AND INTENSITY
These are key to your training. Without incorporating correct form and intensity you will not progress in the gym. Form is usually related to resistance training and so many people in the gym suffer because of poor form in their workouts – when bench pressing, for example, make sure you take advantage of the negative part of the exercise (the lowering of the weight). Don’t just drop the weight on yourself and try to bounce it off your chest. Don’t cheat on your exercise and you will push the muscles to their maximum and make them develop more quickly. Intensity is crucial to your workout – don’t just go through the motions.
OVERLOAD THE MUSCLES
‘Overload’ means what is says – working the muscles where they have to adapt to the stresses being placed upon them. Remember the heart is a muscle, so this needs to be worked if you wish for it to be stronger too. If you do not overload in your workout you will not change and achieve your goals . So if it’s too easy, up the weight or speed – don ‘t just do the exercise and think that’s it!
How to get the Most from a Workout: “Don’t stick to the same old workout”
BEAT THE DEVIL
The mind is just as important as the body when you train. If you are not mentally focused for the session, get out of the gym because you are wasting your time. Always focus on your form throughout and don’t let the little devil on your shoulder win and make you cheat a little bit b y speeding up your reps or slowing down on your running. Listen to the angel on the other shoulder telling you that you can do this. Remember don’t cheat and maximise your session!
MIX IT UP
Finally, don’t stick to the same old workout. Mix up your training with cardio and resistance work, change the types of exercise you do for each body part and increase the weight when necessary. Change your programmes every 6-12 weeks, changing your exercise, rep range, speed of movement and even the days you exercise.
How to get the Most from a Workout: Health and Fitness FAQs
What do people mean by the term ‘window of opportunity’?
Basically this is the time period after exercise where you should consume your nutrients to enable a faster recovery and results. Supplements are a great way of doing this and taking in protein after every session helps boost muscle growth.
Are sports drinks a good source of hydration during your workouts?
Yes and no – it depends on what you are trying to gain. Energy drinks are packed with sugars and if you are trying to loose a few pounds are therefore not ideal. Your body uses up these stores during exercise and the last thing you want to do is top them back up, so stick to the water. On the other hand, if you are more of an intense trainer they can be beneficial as they top up electrolytes and glycogen stores meaning you have energy for longer.
As a female I worry that weight training will make me look too manly.
This is far from the truth. I do weight training with my female clients regularly and the results are great. If you are trying to change your body shape then resistance training 2-3 times a week is essential whatever sex you are. Stick to endurance training if you don ‘t want to bulk muscle and make sure you get professional advice on the type of exercise you need for the specific areas you wish to change .