Top 10 Fitness Tips For a Better Workout
We engaged pilates teacher and general fitness guru Leah Simmons to blog about her own personal fitness journey, relationship with food and some great tips along the way.*
My workout hour is my place of solitude. It’s kid-free, work-free and phone-free. I’m un-contactable for those precious 60 minutes and fully able to immerse myself into what I am doing at that very moment. It’s my heaven. But what makes it so good? And why do I crave it every day? Because the prep I do beforehand ensures I have the best workout experience I can… and I’m about to share it with you.
- DO A BRAIN DUMP
Ok. What is a brain dump? It’s probably one of the most important gifts you can give yourself prior to working out. You know all those little thoughts that are flying around in your head at the moment? Meetings, deadlines, shopping, meal prep, school pick-up, that fight you had with your friend / spouse / child? Write them down, plan them out and then forget about them for the next 60 minutes. Get your body and mind to a neutral state where you can concentrate on the task at hand (because exercise does require concentration)!
- WARM UP
I feel this one is obvious but it’s amazing how many people don’t do a proper warm up before they launch into their workout. Hellooooooo injury! You have got to get those muscles firing before you load them up with a 50kg squat. Start with 3-4mins on the treadmill or a few rounds of some bodyweight squats that will help your heart rate elevate safely and get your muscles into workout-mode.
- COOL DOWN
See above. Ever just run out of the gym after the mother of all sweat sessions and made a bee-line for the couch? (Yes don’t worry I’ve got my hand up too…) The Cool Down is just as important as the Warm Up as it helps to disperse the build-up of lactic acid in your muscles. You’ve probably woken up the next morning feeling like you didn’t even go to the gym but come the day after that and even the slightest cough can send your abs into meltdown mode. This is called DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness… yes it’s a thing) and although it can’t be removed altogether, a good stretch session after your workout will help you a lot.
- HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE
Water, water and more water. Can’t get enough of that good stuff. We are made up of roughly 60% to 70% of it. You should be drinking between 2 to 3L of it per day. Look at the colour of your urine. That will tell you whether you’re getting enough (Lighter and clearer is obviously better - I think you all know what I’m talking about here.) I like to kill two birds with one stone in my daily water intake and also add a few drops of Zinc and Selenium to my water bottle.
- HAVE SOME PROTEIN WITHIN 30 MINS OF YOUR WORKOUT
You’ve just done a mammoth workout and pushed your muscles to their limit. But do you know how muscles actually grow and shape? Each time we work them we make tiny tears in them. So they are constantly repairing themselves with new lean muscle fibres. And where do these fibres come from? Protein of course! If you have a protein shake or eat some protein-rich foods within 30 mins of your workout you are giving your body the goodness it needs to start repairing and building your muscles. Check out my post on Fitness and Food for more information about macronutrients.
- MAKE SURE YOUR TECHNIQUE IS ON POINT
The owner of the gym I train at applies the same amount of concentration and discipline to a 20kg squat as he does to a 250kg one. If your technique isn’t correct then you will not only hinder your progress, you may well hurt yourself in the process. Go back to basics, ask a professional and make sure your technique is PERFECT.
- PLAN YOUR WORKOUTS
My weekly training schedule looks like this:
2 to 3 x strength days
2 x circuit days
2 x mobility sessions (pilates or yoga).
Sometimes I double up a strength day with a mobility day but generally I like to know what I’m doing and when I’m doing it. Planning allows you to make sure that your whole body gets a work out over a designated period of time without the stress of having to try and squash it all into one session. It also gives your body the best chance of recovery if you plan say, a yoga class the day after a strength day.
- BUY A NEW OUTFIT
As silly as this sounds, nothing spells motivation to me more than a killer new outfit. Who doesn’t want to strut their stuff at the gym in the hottest new crop and the latest pair of kicks? New gear is a must - use it as motivation to start training and to reward yourself when you have hit some of your training goals.
- PUT TOGETHER A KILLER PLAYLIST
Like a new outfit, the right music is also a no-brainer. Your workout will seem to go that much faster if you are enjoying the music you are listening to while doing it. Make a few playlists for different days. I have everything from upbeat dance music to R’n’B to old school 80s!
- MIX IT UP!
We don’t eat the same foods every day so why should we do the same workout every day?? There are so many different types of exercise that you can be doing from outdoor activities to dance classes to boxing and martial arts to a good old gym session. Get out there, find a few things you love and shake it up a bit! Mixing it up will also allow you to get the most out of your training as your body won’t become used to the same movements. And it’s also an amazing way to meet new people… so go on…. give it a go!!!
*The views contained in this Blog are those of the author and do not represent the views or opinions of Jurlique. You should seek medical advice before commencing any exercise regime.
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