No one wants to go to the gym and spend their time doing nothing but performing useless exercises. Anyone who invests in their health and fitness is looking to get the most out of every workout and maximize the benefits of every training session. Many of us know the feeling of putting in maximum effort, only to see minimal results. In most cases, when you are putting forth a great effort and consistently putting in the work, but you are not seeing the desired or expected outcome, it’s likely a result of your workout not being optimized.
We’ve all heard the mantra “work smarter, not harder.” No testament could ring more true when it comes to your fitness routine. That is why we are helping you to create a plan in your workout routine that is bound to improve your mood, increase your energy, reduce health risks, and maximize results.
Feeling like your workouts haven’t been as productive or useful lately? Do you have a feeling that you can be getting more out of your workout, but don’t know how to do it? If the answer is yes, take a look at these five steps to optimize your workout and let’s help get your fitness routine on track!
4 Steps to Optimize Your Workout
Though some of these steps may seem obvious to some, far too many people fail to implement them into their routine, which is often a primary driver behind their lackluster workouts. So grab a pen and paper (or bookmark this page on your browser), and let’s take a look at them together.
- Start by Setting an Attainable Goal
Seems simple, right? However, far too many people don’t have a clear goal in mind when they first begin their fitness journey. And sometimes — even worse — they simply have unrealistic goals. With so many misconceptions and crazy claims about fitness being thrown about popular culture, it’s completely possible that you’ve set out to achieve a feat that’s pretty much impossible.
These types of goals can include aiming for a celebrity aesthetic, working out every single day, choosing the wrong workout for your body type, or even just looking for instant results. Just because you feel your muscles pumping or sweat beading on your forehead doesn’t necessarily mean that a particular exercise is optimal for you or your training goals. If your daily workouts don’t support your goals, and those goals aren’t realistic, the results will likely leave you underwhelmed.
Keep in mind, you can’t really focus on two goals at the same time. Prioritize your goals and focus on your primary one first and foremost, and give all your effort and attention to that desired outcome in order to achieve it.
- Cut the Protein and Carbs in Your Recovery
As many of us are aware, the carbohydrates we consume are turned into fuel for immediate use, with some being turned into glycogen that is stored in our muscles and liver for later use. We also know that our bodies need protein to build muscle and repair tissues damaged from working out.
Back in the 1980s, research suggested that consuming carbs immediately following a workout led to a higher rate of glycogen storage. This is the key reason why so many people still drink protein shakes after their workout. The idea is to consume protein during a post-exercise “window of anabolic opportunity”, which is about 30-45 minutes post-workout. This is the time that is believed to be the perfect window for maximizing lean muscle growth.
But science has thrown a wrench in those gears. A meta-analysis, conducted in 2013, produced evidence that suggested the benefits from immediate post-exercise protein consumption was largely based on a comparison with fitness training that occurred after fasting. When producing more realistic comparisons, consuming protein immediately following a workout did not actually boost muscle synthesis and recovery.
Also, contrary to popular belief, there is actually little benefit to taking carbs immediately after a workout. That is, unless you’re planning a second heavy session later in the day. Sure, if you are in the midst of two-a-days, you’ll need to adequately refuel your body. But if you’re looking to refill your muscles’ energy stores in the form of glycogen, it makes little difference whether you do it on the finishing line or at the next meal.
- Find a Training Partner
For those of us on a highly focused fitness journey, we have plenty of internal motivation. But let’s be honest; it’s not always easy to stay motivated, and it can be difficult to give every single workout your maximum effort. It’s human nature. Regardless of your work ethic, it can be easy to cut corners, take a rep off, or make excuses as to why we stopped the set when we had another couple reps left in us.
Finding a training partner can help to keep you on top of your game, especially if you have a partner who can also serve as a friendly rival, of sorts. We all have pride, and many of us looking to optimize our workouts, also have quite the competitive spirit. Our egos and competitive spirit can work to our advantage when training with a companion, as you likely don’t want to be outdone by your partner. If you know you can do 12 reps when you push yourself, you’re much less likely to stop at 5-6 reps like you may if you were alone and your partner wasn’t watching you. Pushing yourself and not allowing yourself to slack off or cut your sets short will maximize your efforts and results.
- Use Attentional Focus Training
Studies conducted by British researchers discovered that individuals who focused on their biceps while doing biceps curls had significantly more muscle activity than those who thought about other things. This concept is known as Attentional Focus Training. This practice can produce more muscle growth in the long run.
The benefits of an Attentional Focus Training have been observed in movement effectiveness (e.g., better balance, increased accuracy), movement efficiency (e.g., reduced muscular activity, increased peak force, increased speed, enhanced endurance), and better movement form.
For example, Attentional Focus Training may allow an athlete to lift the same amount of weight through less muscular effort. Conversely, it may also allow athletes to potentially lift heavier weights than they would otherwise be able to without applying any specific attentional focus. So be sure that for every rep of every set, you’re thinking about the muscle(s) being trained.
Here are Can-i Wellness, we want the best for you so that you can feel amazing and thrive. There are many ways we can go about optimizing our workout for performance, so keep this in mind when taking a look at these steps. In this article, we focused on four of the most crucial steps needed to create the infrastructure for a productive, consistent workout routine. As you continue along your fitness journey, you are likely to begin incorporating other tactics and practices that are conducive to maximizing your performance. But we can assure you that these first five steps are just that; the first “steps” to optimizing your potential and gearing yourself up for top-notch performance. So what are you waiting for?