The gym, a place of titanic struggles, epic distances, blood, sweat and sometimes tears! It is a place you go to improve yourself. As a personal trainer I put 100% effort into my workouts and expect the same from my clients when I challenge them with a workout.

Did you know that a massive 60% of adults in the UK are obese? That worries me, seriously, how could things have got this bad. The fast food craze seems to have taken over. People more often than not will go for speed and convenience over planning and preparation.

With this in mind, well done to the people who do attend the gym and make the efforts to reduce this figure or at least not let it get any worse. Sadly though it does take a bit more than just turning up to the gym to really get a hold of your health and fitness and improve it.

I am well aware that my readers are motivated, educated and active people. So our workouts will be pretty intense, involving heavy weights, long distances and fast movements. At the end of the session we are often the ones on our knees in a pool of sweat!! Does it annoy you when you look up and see half the people in there looking fresh as a daisy and having a chat! Most of the time these kind of people may not be in the best of shapes.

You see it is not about simply going to the gym or going for a run, it is what you do while you train. Many people don’t have the knowledge on how to train correctly, this is not their fault if they haven’t been shown. So in this week’s post I would like to share with you 5 ways to boost your workouts, turning some of your gym sessions from a walk in the park to a constant physical and mental battle.

Maybe a lot of people out there would rather the ‘walk in the park’ session, but for those of you who really want to improve and be the very best then read on.

1. Don’t be boring in the warm up – Try to avoid a simple 5-10 minutes on a cardio machine followed by some lacklustre stretching. Use the cardio machines to really boost your heart rate and prepare yourself for some physical activity. Do some mobility exercises and some dynamic stretching. Mimic the movements you will be doing in the session with your stretches. Also try a few warm up sets using lighter weights to fine tune your technique and get the muscles ready for the movements.

2. Take a day off – It may seem strange that one tip in ‘ways to power up your workout’ is to take a day off, but it is important. As you train you put your muscles through a bit of a torrid time, they pick up tears which need to be repaired. Rest and good nutrition (protein) helps to recover the muscles the most efficiently and enable them to return stronger. This is essentially how we improve, we test our muscles to the limit, allow the muscles time to recover, then we go again.

If we don’t allow our muscles sufficient enough time to recover then we aren’t training to our full potential and we increase our chance of picking up an injury. People combat this by training different muscle groups on separate days. If you don’t wish to rest just go out for a nice walk/jog/cycle or go for a swim.

3. Progression – Do you do the same workout all the time? It is vital in order to improve and to keep an interest in exercise that things are mixed up a bit. When bench pressing 60kg 10 times starts to get easy it is not the time to pat yourself on the back, it is time to up it to 62/64/65kg and try again. It really is all about progression; your muscles need to constantly be adapting to new things and then pushed again. This is how we build and get better.

4. Go Intense – By adding some high intensity interval training (HIIT) to your workouts you can really boost your cardiovascular fitness. Varying high speeds with low speeds over a short period of time will really test your level of fitness and help to boost your VO2 max. This also means that you can get a full cardio workout in half the time of your usual same paced run/cycle, and push yourself even more.

5. Go for big movements – Machines in gyms are good for isolating muscle groups and give a great start to beginners learning to use weights. When you want to really test yourself then free weights will be better. Free weights training incorporate many different muscles into the exercise just by forcing them to work hard to stabilise the muscles around the joint to hold the weight up.

The best types of exercise are the ones which work the most muscles. If you compare a concentration bicep curl with a clean which one do you think will involve more muscles? Yes obviously the clean, it has several phases and will work your lower body and upper body. If you haven’t got weights then exercises such as burpees or certain variations of press ups are great exercising involving the big muscle groups. These exercises will tire you out a lot more than your isolation exercises so it can be best to do them early on in your session while your muscles are fresh.

So there we have my top 5 tips to boost your workouts. It really is important that you put in 100% if you want to put yourself above the ‘average Joe’ in today’s world.

Thanks for reading,

Richard Clarke

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