While hitting the gym is certainly an admirable activity, it isn't always the most pleasant. Sometimes, we've had a long day or find ourselves in a bit of a workout rut. To fix these motivation busters, Shape turned to their favourite trainers for advice on workout timing, gym behaviour, and maximizing your activities. What resulted are the following 8 tips that will make you feel like you own the gym, each and every time!
1. Go Early
Going to the gym first thing has a number of benefits according to Jimmy Minardi, founder of NYC based Minardi Training. Your energy levels are at their peak in the mornings and if you get your workout out of the way early, you are less likely to find schedule conflicts that prevent you from going. "Working out in the morning can boost energy for the rest of the day, giving your metabolism a jumpstart," he says. "And the thermic effect of exercise lasts at least four hours after a workout, so you'll experience an increase in calorie expenditure throughout the day."
2. Take a Friend, but Zip your Lips
Having a workout buddy is great but make sure your working out and not catching up. "Too much chatting between sets can take the momentum out of your workout," says Minardi. "It's good to rest enough between a high-intensity set to allow your muscles a chance to recover, but anything beyond a few minutes might make you lose your focus."
3. Practice Proper Posture
If you find yourself leaning or tilting forward when on the stair-climber or elliptical, try standing up straighter. "Leaning on the handlebars reduces the effectiveness of your workout by removing the emphasis from your lower body muscles," says Joan Pagano, certified trainer in New York City. "You're also stressing your shoulders, back and arms -- so if you can't avoid leaning, then ease up on the intensity."
4. Bear Weight (Sometimes)
Don't be afraid of weight-bearing exercises. "People spend too much energy on non-weight-bearing exercises like elliptical training, spinning and flat treadmill running," says Minardi. "This is good for people who may be recovering from injury, but not for those looking to improve overall health." Weight-bearing exercises, like yoga, dance or agility moves, strengthen bones and muscles while improving balance, coordination and flexibility. "Any exercise where you bear your weight -- even a brisk walk -- has a greater overall payoff than a seated exercise," Minardi explains.
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5. Amp It Up
Pagano says you should never forget to vary your intensity during your workout and to add more movements whenever possible. "Instead of just working your lower body, choose cardio equipment that has arm involvement whenever possible, like the bike, elliptical, or x-c ski, for a full-body workout," she says. "And when using any cardio machine, add intervals of higher intensity to burn more calories in shorter time and to train your heart to work at higher levels of your aerobic capacity."
6. Drop the Straight Bar
Try the triceps rope instead. "This changes the position of the hands during the pushdown," Minardi says. "The knuckles face out instead of up, which directs more of the work towards the lateral head of the tricep at the outside of the arm." The rope also allows for a greater range of motion. "Nothing's better for achieving overall tricep definition than the rope," says Minardi.
7. Get Innovative with Machines
You don't have to use the machines exactly how they were intended or for just one exercise. "Use creatively," suggests Pagano. "With the leg press, for example, do a set using both legs, then lighten the weight and do it with one leg at a time. Keeping your feet on the platform with your legs fully extended, work your ankles by first pushing the platform away with the balls of your feet and then pushing it away with the heels of your feet, lifting your forefoot." This move will work your calves and lower legs like a boss!
8. Mind Your Manners
One of the best kept gym secrets is related to etiquette. "I see all kinds of poor behaviour going on in the gym," says Pagano. Here are a few things to be mindful of: "Return equipment to its proper place after using it; don't leave it lying around," Pagano says. "Do not monopolize equipment you're not using, by keeping it near you or parking your gear on it. If someone is doing a floor work on a mat, don't crowd them. And wipe down equipment after using it -- don't forget the mats!" You're welcome for the reminder!
Those are the tips! Now, all you need is a workout! Check out over 80 hours of on demand workouts with SweatFlix℠