It’s not always easy getting to the gym or carving out time for a workout. Sometimes, just getting started is the most difficult part of exercising. So, once you’ve committed to making it happen, it helps to make your workouts as efficient and effective as possible.
To learn more, we spoke with Lucy Sexton and Tracy Carlinsky, co-founders of the online fitness platform, Bonded by the Burn, which offers live and on-demand classes ranging from low-impact resistance band workouts to high-intensity intervals. Below, they share eight tips to help you get the most out of your efforts and see the results you want.
“Focus on disciplining your mindset around fitness and working out,” says Carlinksy. “With the proper mindset, you can do anything you want.” Believe that you can get fitter, stronger and more athletic, no matter where you’re starting from, and you will be more likely to see progress and reach your goals. “Once you lock into this mindset, you will start to make choices that support what you’re wanting to feel and achieve.”
Pressed for time? “Focus on implementing compound movements into your gym routine,” says Sexton. “Compound exercises recruit multiple muscle groups at the same time, maximizing your time in each move.” So, you can get more done in a shorter period. For example, combine a squat with an overhead press to work your leg muscles, core and upper body. Compound movements also elevate your heart rate more than static exercises, so you will also receive a cardiovascular benefit.
If you’re working out at home, set yourself up for success before you get started. “Make sure you have enough space to set out all your equipment and move freely during your workout,” advises Sexton. “I like to store all my equipment in one area, so it is easy to set up and store before and after my workout. Finally, leave your phone in another room, and pick a room that has a door so you can avoid distractions.”
You don’t need a power rack, bench and tractor tire to work up a good sweat. Instead, acquire a few pieces of versatile, cost-effective equipment that can be used for a variety of exercises. Sexton recommends gliders and resistance bands. “Gliders are light and easily transportable. They can be used to perform a variety of stabilizing, strengthening and cardio exercises,” she says. And resistance bands will help you build muscle without the need for clunky weights. “Most resistance bands come in sets so you can increase tension once you adapt to a specific resistance band, preventing plateaus.”
“Consider incorporating days where you pair strength-based exercises with cardio-based exercises,” advises Sexton. “This way you can build muscle and increase your cardiovascular stamina within the same workout.” For example, try rotating between sets of squats and jump squats, or pair alternating lunge jumps with walking lunges. “As always, it’s best to consult a coach, trainer or physician to come up with a plan that works best for you and your body,” she adds.
Rest is a vital element of any exercise plan. “Sleep offers the body and brain time to restore and recover, and it plays a crucial role in muscle growth, recovery and weight loss or gain,” says Carlinksy. “Pay close attention to your sleep hygiene and try a variety of things to ensure you’re getting a good night’s rest.” Do you sleep best in complete darkness? Try blackout shades. If you’re a light sleeper, earplugs may be helpful. Sleep and exercise go hand in hand, so give your sleep routine just as much thought and attention as you do your exercise routine.
Fitness plans require rest days. If you’re brand new to working out, you might need three days off per week. If you’re a veteran exerciser, just one day may suffice, but there is no precise formula — it’s personal. “Tune in to how your body feels,” says Carlinsky. “If you’re feeling extra sore or rundown, be sure to give yourself a rest day with some extra TLC.” If you’re up for it, she suggests trying an Epsom salt bath to soothe those hardworking muscles.
Sure, you breathe all day, every day. But breathing with intention can benefit your workouts short-term and your physical and mental health long term. “Mindful deep breathing exercisesprovide a simple way to boost recovery and evoke a relaxation response in the body and mind after a workout,” says Carlinsky.