Now that the new year is in full swing, you may be motivated to start exercising regularly or to adapt to your old workout regimen. The question is, how should you go about putting together the perfect exercise routine—i.e., one that allows you to be consistent and focused on your gains?
Before you start hitting the gym again, remember that the burden is not on you to lose a lot of weight or to transform into a peak-performing athlete in a short amount of time. The healthiest and most sustainable workout routine is one that will allow you to gradually build the strength, agility, and endurance you need in the long term. Think of a challenging but realistic goal you want yourself to meet over the next few months, and use that as the basis of your ideal routine.
Below are some additional tips for consolidating your exercise regimen. Try these to work up a healthy sweat during your next gym sessions!
Plan Your Exercises for Your Workout Days
If you’re a total beginner when it comes to working out, one of the first things you should learn is the importance of planning different exercises for different days of the week. A balanced weekly workout regimen allows you to focus and gain mastery over different aspects of your physical ability. The variety also helps the different parts of your body recover after being put under strain.
You can start with upper body and lower body strength training early in the week, followed by a low-impact activity like yoga or cycling in the middle of it. End your week strong with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or steady cardio, and allot at least a day to rest. If you want further advice on how to pace your workout or on which activities you should do at the gym, consult a trainer.
Prepare Your Workout Clothes and Gear
Good exercise clothing and gear will get you in the mood to work out and prevent you from getting uncomfortable while you’re in exercise mode. You’ll want to invest in good-quality athletic apparel, footwear, and accessories that you can use regularly without worrying that they’ll become damaged after only a few wears. Some examples include gym shorts and tank tops, compression clothing, and moisture-wicking USA made socks.
You should also bring gear that’s specific to the kind of workout you want to do. For example, if it’s a weight training day, don’t leave the house without your weightlifting gloves.
Make a Workout Playlist
Many people like to incorporate music into their workouts. That’s because music has the ability to release the body’s feel-good hormones and, in some cases, help people synchronize their actions to a beat. Both factors can contribute greatly to the success of the workout, which is why you should consider making a gym playlist if you don’t already have one.
Choose music that either pumps you up or matches the pace of the activity you’re doing. Before you know it, you’ll have clocked off quite a few reps or run a good few miles just by following the beats of your favorite musicians.
Eat a Nourishing Meal Before You Work Out
Good meals and good workouts go hand in hand. You should never turn up at the gym on an empty stomach, even if you want to lose weight. Get a tasty and nourishing meal into your system so that you have some energy in your body and so that you don’t feel weak when you’re doing physically strenuous activities.
Go for meals that aren’t too heavy, but that contain the right balance of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. Trainers and professional athletes recommend combos like peanut butter and sliced bananas on whole-grain bread, lightly dressed grilled chicken and vegetable wraps, Greek yogurt with fruits and nuts, or overnight oats.
Do Your Warmups and Cool-downs
It can be tempting to get straight into your workout activity for the day once you hit the gym, and just as tempting to leave once you’re done. But you should never forget to warm up and cool down. In fact, you should make these two tasks an essential part of your workout routine.
Warmups and cool-downs serve to stretch the body, optimize blood circulation, and regulate body temperature before and during the workout. To feel less pain during the workout itself—and to prevent bouts of cramps or muscle soreness—be conscientious about warming up and cooling down.
Plan Your Next Workout Sessions Around Consistency, Not Intensity
When you finally get into the rhythm of your weekly workout, it may also seem like a good idea to increase the intensity of the next sessions. But again, don’t bite off more than you can chew, and don’t shock your body with excessive physical strain. Otherwise, you might get injured or sick. You might even lose momentum and quit exercising altogether.
Instead, prioritize working out consistently, even if your regimen doesn’t look that different from the week before. What matters is that you clock in the time, gradually get better at specific physical activities, and build your motivation to keep working out as the months pass.
Find Workout Buddies to Make Exercise More Fun
Exercise can feel like a lonely activity, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re the kind of person who’s more inspired to do things when they’re in the company of others, don’t hesitate to look for a workout buddy.
Having a workout buddy can increase your sense of accountability to your workout routine and, at the same time, make trips to the gym more enjoyable for you. You’ll catch yourself looking forward to the gym sessions as well as healthy post-workout meals and hangouts with your friend.
Working out doesn’t have to be a chore or something you do just for the sake of it. If you can put together a workout routine that feels doable, repeatable, and fully in line with your personal goals, you’ll definitely get the gains you want in due time. Prepare your workout gear and apparel, decide on your routine, and call a friend or family member to join you in your journey towards better health!