12 Expert Tips to Maximize Your Workout

If there was a simple trick for getting more out of your workout, wouldn’t you jump on it? To get the scoop, we asked fitness experts their top recommendations for working out smarter. Forget pre-workout powders and supplements, these simple tips are for everyone. If you’re looking to get more out of your daily or even weekly workout, read on for easy advice for your mind and body that you can implement right now.

 

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Megan Hummert, trainer at The Edge Sport

Prep Your Muscles:

“Invest in a foam roller, lacrosse ball, or even a PVC pipe to help prep your muscles for your workout,” Hummert suggests. She adds that you should prioritize rolling out the muscle groups that you will be using most during your workout. “This makes your muscles more pliable and can actually help achieve greater muscle activation, so the exercises you do will be more effective!”

Train Your Core:

Hummert’s second recommendation is to train your core to resist movement. “Your lumbar spine (low back) and the surrounding musculature is designed to be stable, so perform anti-extension, anti-flexion, and anti-rotation exercises,” she adds. Some of her favorites include dead bugs, bear crawls, farmer carries, side planks, and pallof presses.

Single Leg Training:

Don’t forget about single leg training, which will help build your stability and make your stronger. Hummert recommends split squats, lunge variations, single leg deadlifts, and single leg squats.

 

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Gregg Piper, V3 Fit Club owner (Best of 2019 Winner — Best Personal Trainer, Suburbs)

Never Skip a Monday:

This may seem simple, but as Piper explains, “a lot of us tend to over indulge on the weekends.” He recommends starting off the week strong with a good workout, and hopefully the rest of your week will align.

Have a Plan:

Don’t enter the gym without a plan. Having a planned agenda in place will not only save you time, but will also help you stay focused on your goals. “A confused mind always defaults back to what we’re comfortable with, and in terms of the gym, that means the person will do the same thing they have always done,” Piper adds. If you find yourself veering off of your schedule or lost in the gym, consider joining a class or working with a personal trainer.

Always Warm Up:

“The older we get the more our bodies need that time to get ready for hard work,” Piper says. He likes these 30-second warm-up exercises that can be done at home or at the gym:

  • Arm circles
  • Arm swings side to side
  • High knee pulls
  • Body squats
  • Single-leg toe touch
  • Push-ups

 

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Macie Crumb, dancer, choreographer, and instructor at StudioThree

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Uncomfortable:

“Be OK with feeling like you’re struggling,” Crumb suggests. “That’s where the physical and mental push is required,” she adds. “If we stayed comfortable all the time, nothing would ever change.” As a recommendation, she notes that if you’re not uncomfortable, adjust something. “If you’re in a strength workout, move slower with more control or pick up a heavier set of weights.”

Also, make sure you are setting yourself up well and let you trainer or instructor know if you have injuries or limitations so you don’t push yourself too hard. Suggested modifications and adjustments will make sure you’re still getting everything out of that workout.

Enjoy Your Workout:

What is the point if you aren’t having fun? “If you hate the type of workout, you’re less likely to work hard and you’re definitely less likely to continue to show up consistently,” Crumb says.

Take Advantage of Your Time:

In order to fully maximize your workout time, Crumb suggests shutting everything else off and dealing with it post-workout. “When you’re in a workout class or with your trainer, be there not just physically but mentally. Studies show that muscle works harder when you’re thinking about the exact muscle when you’re working it.” It’s all about being mentally focused!

 

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Julie Hafner, founder of Studio Spin (Best of 2019 Winner — Best Spin Studio, Suburbs)

Establish a Mind-Body Connection:

“Being mindful of the muscles you are working helps you get the most out of the workout,” Hafner says. Focus on the connection between the mind and body so you can really feel the muscle that you are working on. “I’m always reminding my clients to celebrate what their bodies can do.  As their coach, I want them to always remember they’re stronger than they think they are,” she adds.

Active Recovery:

If you keep moving during a workout, even in between exercises, you are allowing your body to have active recoveries throughout, but never stop completely. “At Studio Spin, we incorporate HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) in a low-impact setting,” Hafner says. “Training like this allows our bodies to get the most calories burned during the workout, and an incredible after-burn. It truly is the most efficient way to burn fat, slow the aging process, and develop lean muscle mass.”

Find Your Community:

The best thing about group fitness classes? The friendships and community you’ll find will keep you motivated every day and coming back for more. “With support and motivation, and incredible instruction and coaching, you will realize your potential and achieve your goals,” Hafner says. You will also find you can push yourself harder in a group setting than when you are working out alone.


Macaire DouglasMacaire Douglas lives in Chicago with her husband and two sons. She proudly supports Share Our Spare, a local nonprofit that collects goods for children in need.