A lot of us work out regularly. But not a lot of us reap all the benefits of these workouts. Here are four ways to get more out of your workouts
Warm up before and stretch
This is like saying eat your vegetables: everyone knows it but very few people actually do it. But this basic requirement is of much importance when it comes to improving performance and staying injury-free, which are both critical for any goal: from competition to fat loss.
Warming up before any workout gets your muscles and joints primed and ready for more strenuous work, which is the workout you are about to do. Taking the time to properly warm up will help get your body temperature up to where it needs to be, your joints mobile and ready to move under load and optimise recruitment of muscles to do the required work. Stretching with the right breathing pattern at the end of the workout helps restore muscle length and strengthen the diaphragm, which improves breathing efficiency.
Have a Clear Plan
Some of us have the practice of walking into the gym or training floor without any idea of what we’re about to do. Going in unprepared for anything will result in sub-par performance, and training is no exception to this rule.
The body’s performance depends on the nervous and muscular systems and on how effectively they talk to one another. Good neuro-muscular coordination is one of the basic and critical necessities for good movement and performance. Having a clear training plan is simply the brain telling the body what is expected out of it and that helps prepare the body for the same. This enables a temporary but positive adaptation that allows the body to do more work, which in turn helps improve your rate of progress.
While we all know that quality is important and, in some cases, more important than quantity, we do get carried away in doing more without really doing better. Coaches, in fitness and sport, all over the world endlessly talk about form and technique, and there is a good reason for that.
When a move is done with proper technique, the right musculature is engaged and used at the right intensities and proportions. This, when done over time, results in only the right muscles getting stronger and that helps improve quality of movement and quantity of results, be it weight lifted, distance travelled or power generated.
Even though training with proper form might feel harder than taking the easy way out, proper technique will make you much stronger and keep you safer in the long run. So, irrespective of what it is that you are doing, make the effort to do it with the best possible technique. If this requires you to work with lower weights or cover fewer yards, that’s a small price to pay for long-term fitness.
Training to failure or working out till you pass out may sound glamorous, but is not the optimal way to train. It is dangerous, results in sub-optimal muscle recruitment, and seldom helps with long-term fitness. Instead, work on finishing strong. Every rep of every set of every workout.
Finishing strong will help make your workouts more effective for three reasons: one, you are not fatigued and so muscle recruitment and usage can be at its best. Two, your risk of injury is greatly reduced and, three, you get to train more and frequently, which enables more learning for the body. And this typically translates to better quality movement.