Struggling to lose fat or build lean muscle? Or do you want to get the most out of your gym time? If so, give your workouts and diet a makeover! What you eat and how you train influences your results and therefore it is essential that you constantly adjust both your workouts and your diet to keep up with your body’s improvements towards your goals. Whether you want to shed weight or build muscle there are no short cuts and requires both effort and determination.
Ready to give it a try? Here are seven proven ways to maximize your workouts and help you reach your fitness goals:
1. Set realistic goals
The first step is to determine what you expect from your workouts. Do you want to lose weight, build muscle, or simply stay fit? If your goal is to slim down, decide exactly how many kilos you want to drop and then set a deadline.
Make sure your goals are attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Write down what you want to achieve, assess your schedule, and stick to your plan. Be ambitious but realistic. Smart goal setting can boost your motivation and increase your chances of success.
2. Have a plan
Next, decide how you're going to achieve your goals. Come up with a training routine that fits into your lifestyle and be realistic about it. If you have a busy schedule you might not be able to hit the gym six times a week, but you can have three or four workouts that gets the job done.
Depending on your preferences, you can either train one or two muscle groups per session, or complete full body circuits. Most athletes and gym goers opt for split training, such as back and biceps, chest and triceps, shoulders and arms, or legs and abs. You may also split your sessions into upper body and lower body workouts followed by HIIT. Before going to the gym, make sure you know what exercises you will do, how many reps and sets you'll complete, and what muscles you're targeting.
3. Train smart
Whether you want to drop weight or pack on muscle, focus on big compound movements. Multi-joint exercises, such as bench press, deadlift, squats, and push-ups, hit nearly every muscle in your body and boosts your metabolism. Ideally, compound moves should account for at least 70 percent of your workout routine. Unless you're already ripped, there’s no need to focus on isolation work.
Compound exercises can help you get fit in more than one way. They not only increase your metabolic rate, but also strengthen your core and boosts the production of anabolic hormones. Basically, your body will produce more testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone), which makes it easier to shed fat and build lean muscle. Additionally, they make you stronger overall and improve functional fitness.
4. Lift heavy
Contrary to popular belief, lifting heavy weights won’t make you bulky. Unless you’re eating a ton of calories or taking anabolic steroids, it's unlikely to get "too big." If it was that easy, everyone would look like a pro bodybuilder with shredded abs and huge arms. Strength training actually shapes your muscles, melts away fat, and improves body composition.
If you stick to low weights, you'll hit a plateau and stop making gains. To get results, you have to constantly challenge your body by lifting heavier, doing new exercises, or changing the number of reps and sets. In fitness and bodybuilding, this concept is known as progressive overload and involves increasing the demands on the body during training in order to continually make gains. Start with low weights and add more plates on the bar as you progress. Watch your form to prevent injuries and get the most out of your workout.
5. Swap cardio for HIIT
Minute per minute, HIIT is more efficient than cardio when you want to lose fat. Also known as high-intensity interval training, it alternates between short, intense bursts of exercise and periods of rest or low-intensity training. It burns more calories than any other training regimen while preserving muscle. Steady-state cardio, on the other hand, burns both fat and muscle tissue. It also causes fatigue, decreases your metabolic rate, and affects your gains.
With high-intensity intervals, you'll get better results in less time. HIIT also boosts cardiorespiratory fitness, depletes your glycogen stores, and keeps your body in an anabolic state that promotes fat loss and muscle growth.
By using this training method, you'll burn calories during and after exercise. All you need is three weekly sessions of 10-20 minutes each. If you're obese or overweight, do another 10-15 minutes of cardio after HIIT to maximize fat burning.
6. Eat for your goals
Your eating habits have a direct impact on your workouts and overall progress. If you eat too little, you’ll lose muscle and lack the energy needed for intense training. Eat too much and you'll gain weight. When shopping for groceries, focus on the three macronutrients - protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Stay away from foods containing empty calories.
Fill your plate with lean protein, such as poultry, beef, eggs, and cottage cheese. Get your fats from salmon, tuna, avocado, sardines, mackerel, and unrefined vegetable oils. Load up on good carbs before and after working out. These include whole grains, dark leafy greens, and low sugar fruit. To drop weight, reduce your daily calories and eat more protein and fewer carbs. To build muscle you should increase your protein and carb intake and consume more calories than you burn.
7. Take supplements
Sports supplements can speed up your progress and bring you closer to your goals. Depending on your needs, opt for whey protein powder, amino acids, BCAAs, or fat burners. Consider using a pre-workout formula, such as One PWO, to boost your energy and maximize your workouts. A quality pre-workout supplement will enhance mental focus, increase fat burning, and rev up your metabolism. It can also help you recover faster from training and reduce muscle fatigue.
Now that you know what it takes to reach your fitness goals, tweak your diet and workout plan! Be consistent, train hard, and the results will follow.