Half the battle of an exercise program is walking into the gym, but what happens once we are there? How do we ensure that our 45 minutes of gym time is spent wisely? These following simplewill keep your exercise program effective and your healthy lifestyle on track.
1. Try The Talk Test – The talk test is a good way to gauge if you are working hard enough. It can be used for cardio-vascular exercise or weight training. The talk test refers to how well you can speak during a workout. If you are able to hold a full conversation with someone during the exercise, then you should be working harder. However, if you’re huffing and puffing so much that you’re not able to answer simple yes/no questions, then you may be pushing it too much. At the same time, you should not have enough energy in the tank to sing your ABCs while you are exercising. The trick is finding that healthy medium and you may have to adjust your routine slightly a few times before finding the perfect pace.
2. Keep Conversations to a Minimum – The gym is a great place to make and run into friends, but try to save the catch-up conversations until after the workout. Most of your workout should be spent in your target heart rate zone, so be sure to focus on your exercise and not on the chitchatting. This is why I wear headphones in the gym, it keeps me focused on my workout so I am getting the most out of it, but do whatever works for you.
3. Superset Exercises- Do you ever find yourself getting lost in thoughts during a break between exercises? This leads to losing track of time and before you know it, you have rested too long. A good way to stop the daydreaming between exercises is to superset. This means that perform two of your exercises back to back. Pick two routines that work different muscles like an abdominal crunch and the chest press machine. Perform a set of chest presses and immediately drop to the floor to do your set of crunches. Continue to go back and forth between exercises until you have finished your sets.
4. Find a Friend – It’s hard enough to walk into the gym every week, let alone push a workout to higher intensities. To kill those two birds with one stone, find a workout buddy. This could be someone from work, an old acquaintance or even a family member. Make sure that it is someone that you can push and will do the same for you in return. This person will give you the motivation to leave the house and get to the gym. Going through exercises together will help that hour move a lot faster.
5. Write it down – Do you find yourself forgetting what weights you should use on certain exercises? Start recording your numbers. I carry a little notebook with me from one exercise to the next. By doing this, you can make sure that your body is continuously challenged and making progress. If you wrote that you chest pressed a certain weight ten times in the last workout, try doing 11 this time and 12 next. It comes in handy for cardio as well. If you jot down the distances that you reach each cardio session, then you can aim for improvement for the next time. For example, if your journal says that you did 3 miles in 30 minutes for your last cardio session, make it your goal to reach 3 miles in 29 and a half minutes. If you continue to set goals and constantly improve yourself, reaching your fitness goals will not plateau easily.
6. Leave the phone in the locker – Cell phones are very technologically advanced in giving you the ability to purchase tickets to shows, check the weather, get directions and write emails, but they are a huge distraction at the gym. Unless you are expecting an important call, leave it in the locker. Too many people spend their time in the gym texting friends and playing games on their phone which is obviously not very conducive to getting an effective workout. You’ll have a much better workout without the phone. If you need it for music purposes, turn off the other features and stay disciplined.
7. Visualize – Athletes at the elite level have mastered the art of visualization. Before a competition or a practice, they go through mental exercises to prep themselves up for their event. I’m not saying you need to do this on the same level as a star quarterback, but it can really help you reach better levels of fitness if you visualize before and during exercise. You can do this by focusing the negative energy from a bad day at work into your exercises or you can find motivation by creating a mental picture of where you see yourself in 6 months. Personally, before each exercise I picture everything that makes me angry and use that to drive myself through an intense workout. I know others who meditate before each workout for 5-10 minutes and other people make motivating playlists to stay energized on the treadmill. Once again, find and do what works for you.
Start incorporating some of these into your gym time and your progress and dedication will reach new levels.