Six Practical Ways to Improve Your Workouts

While it can be hard making regular exercise a habit, it can be even harder to maintain it. The good news is there are a few things you can try to improve your workouts and uphold healthy habits—keep reading to discover six practical methods.

Try New Exercises*

When you regularly workout, it can be easy to fall into the same routine. By doing the same exercises every time you visit the gym, you won’t be able to improve your muscle mass, as your muscles become acclimated with the motions. That is why you want to try new exercises that you may not be familiar with. There are many resources online where you can find ways to work out certain parts of the body part that you want to strengthen. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself!

*If you tend to get sore or suffer frequent sports injuries, only add one or two new exercises or motions at a time to your routine. If you had too many new motions, you will have a difficult time troubleshooting what motion might have caused excess soreness or pain.

Take Caffeine*

It can be hard to find new ways to motivate yourself. If you’re struggling to get yourself going, consider utilizing caffeine. This much-needed energy boost comes in several forms—coffee and pre-workout are two ways many people boost their energy levels prior to a workout. For coffee, consume it at least 10 to 15 minutes, and no later than an hour, prior to your workout. As for pre-workout, take it 20 to 30 minutes before you head to the gym.

*Check with a physician regarding caffeine consumption. Some people with special conditions, such as hypertension, probably don’t want to be consuming caffeine. If you are taking other supplements, you need to watch out for caffeine ingredients. Some drinks have 200 mg to 300 mg per serving.

Use Power Bands

There are many workout accessories that you can take advantage of at the gym, but power bands are one of the most popular options. It’s an excellent tool for building strength. However, if you’re just getting back into the swing of things, you may want to choose one catered to your personal workout; there are light, medium, and heavy-duty power band options. Power bands are great for resistance and help you stretch, but they can also give you support with squats and pullups.

Set New Goals

Another great way to improve your workouts is to always set new goals. When you have nothing to strive for at the gym, it can get stale fast. From adding more weight while lifting to running a faster mile to completing more reps, you always want to be moving forward.

Don’t Waste Time

While at the gym, it is easy to become distracted and waste time. To prevent this from happening, try to avoid checking your phone between reps and don’t take too much time to rest. Limit yourself to a maximum resting time of one minute and then get back at it.

Avoid Machines*

The final tactic you may want to try is to avoid working out on machines. While machines are great and convenient, you will get more out of an exercise if you do it with free weights. This is because free weights are known to be better for building muscle—they require you to use various body parts to strengthen a specific muscle group. Machines cannot offer the same workout due to resistance, which “helps” you lift.

*Machines are great if you are new to exercise, or are returning from a long break from exercise. Machines often get a bad rap, especially from personal training studio owners who — guess what — can’t afford a lot of expensive machines. For the average adult getting into fitness, exercise machines can provide a very safe and comfortable method of stimulating muscle growth and fitness and calorie consumption for improved body composition. If you are an elite athlete, your body definitely needs to experience free weights and free motion with realistic acceleration and balance training to activate stabilizing muscles and coordination that simulate whole body performance. Machines tend to isolate muscles, and take away a lot, but not all, of the stabilizing duties of nearby muscles. Obviously a seated knee extension machine doesn’t activate all the muscles you need to jump high for sports performance. But if you’re just interested in feeling better and improving your body composition by gaining muscle and losing fat, machines usually provide a safer and more comfortable — less masochistic — method of training. Machines also help get people started with more advanced exercise. If a person can’t do a single pull-up, a lat pulldown exercise can be a good first choice toward advancement.