From breathing techniques to posture, there are several things that can impact your workout, no matter the length or intensity. Here are eight fitness tips to ensure that your workout is a success.
Your footwear can make all the difference in how comfortable you are during your workouts, which can increase your endurance and performance. Wearing shoes that are too tight or too big may cause foot pain during and after your workout and lead to injury. Whether you walk, run, or play tennis or basketball, select shoes based on the fitness activity you engage in. This will ensure that your feet get the adequate amount of support to have an effective workout.
Using the proper form not only decreases the risk of injury but it also improves the quality of your training, which is key to seeing long-term results. Rick Applewhite, certified personal trainer and owner of Exercise Life, says using the proper exercise form helps maximize the intensity of the workout. For example, doing one squat in the proper form (place your feet shoulder-width apart, refrain from extending your knees over your toes and keep your back straight) is always better than doing 10 squats the wrong way.
Though you may be dripping sweat and out of breath, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your heart rate is in its fat-burning zone, which means you may not be burning as many calories as you think. Applewhite recommends using a heart rate monitor during your workout so that you know the accurate number of heart beats per minute to gauge the intensity of your workout routine and reach your fitness goals.
Though it may not be the friend you are excited to see every month, your menstrual cycle can play a role in how you perform during your workout. If you’re feeling bloated, tired, crabby, or experiencing the dreaded cramps, you may have a hard time finding motivation to exercise. Remember that exercise can reduce PMS symptoms, so instead of ditching your workout during that time of the month, opt for a lighter routine, such as yoga or walking for 30 minutes.
If you’re a night owl who likes to stay up into the wee hours of the morning, it may be difficult to hit the gym at the crack of dawn. Exercising when your body is not well-rested can make your workouts drag because you won’t have the stamina to perform at your fullest potential. Getting the recommended amount of sleep will help maintain your energy while you exercise.
"Sleep allows your body to properly repair muscle fiber in order to tone your body and allow more efficient workouts," says Applewhite. "If you don’t rest, you don’t see progress and you leave yourself open to injury."
Do you pay attention to how you breathe while you exercise? Breathing correctly during exercise is essential to ensuring that your muscles are receiving oxygen to sustain them during the workout, and it can help you maintain a normal heart rate. Holding your breath for extended periods of time is unsafe and can be harmful.
When weight lifting, exhale when you exert the most amount of energy. For example, when doing a bicep curl, Applewhite says to exhale when lifting the weight and inhale slowly when you return the weight back to start position.
Keeping your core engaged while doing cardio or weight training will not only help you develop strong abs, but it also supports your back, which gives you good posture and form. Holding your abdominal muscles in while working out may take practice, but Applewhite strongly recommends tightening these muscles while performing every exercise to help strengthen your core, which plays a vital role in both upper- and lower-body exercises.
Let’s face it — you may come across days when exercising is the last thing you want to do. Plan to go hard no matter how you feel before your workout. If you dwell on "I don’t want to be here" during your entire workout, chances are you won’t feel like you’ve accomplished much post-workout.
"Your attitude is essential to enjoying the workout, and if you’re having fun, then you’re more likely to stick with it," says Applewhite. "It is equally important to keep your attitude in shape."
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