How to get the most out of your time at the gym

How to get the most out of your time at the gym

You may think that you have your fitness routine down to a science, but gym-goers of all experience levels and body types can probably do more to make the most out of every minute spent at the gym. If you're thinking about updating your workout, try one – or all – of these seven tips!

1. Start your routine with something you like
If you find that your workouts are getting a little stale, try beginning your fitness routine with the exercise you enjoy the most. This will help you get your heart rate pumping while also getting you psyched up for the workout ahead. 

2. Eat before you go
While you don't want to wolf down a steak before hitting the treadmill, eating a small meal or light snack before the gym can help boost your metabolism and keep you from fading during your routine. Try an antioxidant-rich snack like blueberries, a yogurt packed with probiotics or a shake made with a total soy meal replacement.

3. Use your upper body during cardio
Using a treadmill or stationary bike to improve heart and lung endurance is a great way to stay fit, but chances are you're ignoring your upper body during these workouts. Using a full-body elliptical machine that works on arms as well as legs can help you burn more calories while improving your overall stamina.

4. Get a little competitive
Notice someone on the treadmill near you who's really giving it their all? Use their motivation to work a little harder! Friendly competition can give you the boost you need to spend a few extra minutes on the machine or convince you to push yourself to run just a little faster. However, be sure that you don't do anything that's outside of your limits.

5. Try eccentric exercises
It's tempting to focus solely on improving muscles like your abs, but many abdominal workouts shorten and "crunch" those muscles. Mixing in movements that lengthen your spine and strengthen back muscles can help you achieve all-over body fitness. 

6. Take advantage of unilateral training
Most of the time, when you're using a leg press or extension machine you're using both of your legs at the same time. While there's nothing wrong with that, most of us tend to favor one leg over the other, even when using both at once. Try doing a full set with your weaker leg – for most people, this is their left – and then doing a full set with your stronger leg. You'll immediately notice that one side completes the exercise with greater ease. Doing this can also help improve balance!

7. Invest in a personal trainer
Maybe you haven't achieved the arm tone you wanted, or maybe your runs are still leaving you feeling exhausted after five minutes. If it seems like your workout isn't having the effects you were hoping for, you may want to consider hiring a personal trainer who can help you reach your fitness goals. Sound too expensive? Try splitting a session with a friend or looking into group fitness programs.

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