7 Tricks For Getting More Out Of Your Workouts
February 16, 2016
Try these clever hacks to improve performance by working smarter, not harder.
You show up. You move. You find your edge. But are you sure you’re getting everything you can from every workout? These simple — but often overlooked — tricks can help beginners and experienced athletes alike push past those dreaded plateaus.
1. BRING ON THE CARBS.
Protein good, carbs bad. Right? Wrong! If you want to improve athletic performance or build strength, you need to replenish your carb stores after a workout to keep your body from using your muscles for fuel. So add some carbs to that post-workout protein shake. Shoot for a ratio of 3 grams of fast-digesting carbohydrates to 1 gram of protein. (Think fruit, juice, or a simple sweetener like honey rather than whole grains.)
2. TAKE IT OUTSIDE.
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Get out of the gym and embrace the challenges of uneven terrain and wind resistance. Even on flat ground, you’ll burn more calories and recruit more stabilizing muscles exercising outdoors than you will inside on a treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical machine — not to mention the serotonin boost that comes from being in the great outdoors. Daunted by the weather? Choose performance fabrics built for the season, and layer appropriately.
3. HIT THE SWITCH.
Doing the same thing for months on end will only get you so far — even if you feel like you’re pushing yourself. Why? Your body adapts to repeated activity, using less energy to perform the same movements as you get fitter. After a while, you’ll see smaller and smaller incremental gains from even the most strenuous workouts. Instead, choose a different aspect of fitness to focus on. For example, if you’re usually a cardio junkie, get serious about strength training. If you’re a heavy lifter, hit the treadmill. Switch it up every 6–12 weeks.
“ADD SOME CARBS TO THAT POST-WORKOUT PROTEIN SHAKE.”
4. GIVE IT A REST.
Guess what? You’re not actually getting any stronger while you’re at the gym. Your muscles need adequate rest to repair the damage you inflict on them before you see any fitness gains. That’s right: the real magic happens during your days (and nights) off. Skip the recovery period, and you’ll see disappointing results. But that doesn’t mean you have a free pass to spend some quality time with your couch. Incorporate light exercise, stretching and myofascial release — also known as “foam rolling” or self-massage with a lacrosse ball, Roll Recovery, etc. — into your recovery plan to make sure you come back stronger than ever.
5. KEEP YOUR COOL.
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