How to get the most out of your workout sessions
There’s a growing awareness around how our sedentary lifestyles are unhealthy. Forty-plus hours sitting at a desk plus another few dozen on the couch watching Netflix is reversing the trend towards longer, healthier lives that we’ve seen over the past century. Regular trips to the gym are a popular way to push back against an unhealthy lifestyle, but overzealous, underequipped fitness buffs can often set themselves behind in their health and training goals with injuries.
Strained muscles, joint impact or dislocation, breaks and sprains, and repetitive, longer-term injuries can happen when gym-goers are careless, unaware of good practices, and lacking in support for their fitness activities. To protect your body and accomplish your fitness goals, keep these tips in mind.
Build up slowly
Don’t expect to jump from couch potato to Olympic standards immediately. Start at a pace that stretches your limits but doesn’t significantly surpass them for best results. Your body as a system needs to grow and develop. Increasing weight, reps, or distance too quickly ignores natural limitations to balance and endurance and is more likely to lead to injuries. Pushing just a bit further each session stresses your body enough to stimulate muscle development and provide heart and body-system benefits without doing damage and landing you back on the couch.
Likewise, do your best to move past a “weekend warrior” mentality. It’s not healthy to spend most of your time being inactive, and then do a long, hard session occasionally to make up for it. This pattern won’t provide the fitness benefits that you need, and it will contribute to a much higher incidence of injuries. It’s better to do shorter, more relaxed visits to the gym multiple times a week than to put off fitness for days or weeks at a time, and then try to cram all your sweating into one mammoth session.
Learn from the pros
Many of us need help moving in a way that’s safe, healthy, and provides optimal outcomes. This is especially important for weight training, high-intensity workouts, and endurance fitness activities. You’re putting pressure on muscles, joints, and body systems in order to grow their capacity, but if you don’t understand the body as a whole system, you’re likely to inadvertently cause an injury by failing to guard yourself, overworking one area and under-developing another, or simply reaching beyond your limits. A skilled, experienced trainer or coach can help you learn best practices for lifting, circuit training, or endurance activities, and help you get the most out of your fitness efforts.
The key idea here is that your body is an interconnected system. Focus too much on any one part, or ignore the connections between its parts, and you’re losing out on potential benefits and risking damage. Work out regularly, but also schedule in recovery time. Gradually strengthen your core, as well as extremities. Hydrate, eat well, and get enough sleep so that your body has what it needs to perform.
Compression sports wear can help compensate for weakness or past injuries, improve performance, and support your outcomes. Consider lumbar back support, joint wraps, and other gear as appropriate to your workouts. Good nutrition is better than using synthetic or concentrated supplements. Invest in appropriate safety gear and workout wear.
You can get the most out of your workout sessions by investing in focused preparation and supplementation ahead of time. Eat clean and hydrate, get enough sleep, and schedule in rest days. Make sure that your workouts focus on the full body in a balanced way that stretches just slightly beyond your current capacities, and invest in a good coach or trainer and gear that can help you grow in a safe, healthy, and effective way.
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