1. Stretch, Stretch, Stretch!
This may seem like fitness 101, but this is the most important thing that I reiterate to my clients. Stretching is imperative. Stretching is often overlooked, as many people haven’t experienced the incredible benefits that it provides when you have given it the chance to work its magic. Let’s talk about them. Obviously, the first benefit is that it is a preventative measure for injury. Before you go for your 10km run or your strength session in the gym, without giving those muscles the adequate TLC they need, not only will you be more inclined to injure yourself, but you will not be reaching optimum performance in your workout.
If preventing injury isn’t your number 1 concern, perhaps optimizing your performance will be. Let’s face it, we all workout to get faster, fitter and stronger. We want to see improvement and we want to ensure that we have equipped ourselves with the necessary tools and resources to do so. Stretching is right at the top of that list and it’s free. If you’re unsure about the most effective stretches to do beforehand, start by focusing on the primary muscle groups you will be working in your workout.
2. Don’t skip your workout warm-up
This follows off my last point about preparing your body correctly. Before you workout whether it be cardio or strength, you need to ease your body into it. Give your body quick 5-10 minute warm up to slowly increase your heart rate and get the blood flowing to your muscles. If you jump straight into a high intensity workout whether it is cardio or strength, you’ll be more susceptible to injuries.
3. Wear the RIGHT shoes
If anyone has experience with this, it is me! I can appreciate a beautiful pair of kicks, even if they’re not the most efficient for running. Remember, runners are developed for different purposes, whether it is leisure, crossfit, walking or long distance running. It’s important to keep that in mind when you’re purchasing your next pair. If you’re unsure about the most suitable pair for your exercise regime, consult a specialist in store. Unfortunately, because I chose to wear the wrong shoes for a long period of time, I’ve had many foot and ankle injuries that have been caused by my shoes. Of course, these were easily preventable had I made better footwear choices! Although shoes can be expensive and it seems like an easy thing to skimp on, don’t! The investment is worth it.
4. Wear workout gear that makes YOU feel confident
Wearing correct workout gear serves a two-fold purpose. Firstly, when you wear workout gear that makes you feel good, you naturally feel more confident. Funnily enough, there’s a little more science to this concept than you may believe. The science surrounding this suggests that clothing you wear is directly linked to cognitive changes that can affect your energy, happiness and performance. This concept is called enclothed cognition. So you may be thinking, AHA! This is why we gravitate towards slipping on our activewear when we need to run errands and be productive - you’re right! Subconsciously, we associate efficiency and speed with activewear. Secondly, wearing the right gym gear that is breathable, moisture wicking and light (or warm if you’re in cold climates) is also important!
5. Stay hydrated before, during and after your workout
Hydration, hydration, hydration! You’ve heard it all before, yet, why (including me) do we underestimate its importance? You need to hydrate before, during and after a workout. I know this may seem like overkill, however, you need to match your sweat losses in a workout. Water is a must but my favorite hydration tool is BSC Energy Gel! It’s an all round energy supplement packed full of amino acids, electrolytes, natural caffeine and vitamins! The other perfect hydration fuel is coconut water! If you’re someone who tends to reach for sugary sports drinks after a workout, try coconut water. It’s low in sugar, calories, and cholesterol free and packed with potassium!
6. Balance and vary your workout routine
If you want to avoid performance and weight-loss plateaus, this is a must. It’s very easily to slip into a comfortable and consistent workout regime. Not only because overtime, our body adapts but also because we all love when we know what we’re in for. Also, changing up your routine can be confusing but can be done with the right planning and assistance. For example, instead of running 5k everyday, 7 days a week, it might be worth changing up your distance, speed and incline. It might also be beneficial to swap a couple of runs for strength sessions, recovery walks and a yoga session. Our bodies adapt very quickly to things, even more so if you’re determined. Ensuring that our programs are varied throughout the week will ensure that our body is faced with new challenges. Reaching a new speed, distance, weight or exercise progression is a wonderful thing. Be proud of yourself and set a new goal to celebrate. Don’t give yourself time to fall into that comfort zone. All of your new progress will take place out of your comfort zone. Live less out of habit and more out of intent. Jumping up to a new weight for a chest press may be a scary thing for you, remember, your largest fear carries your largest growth. Once you have varied your routine, allow yourself some RNR throughout the week. A rest day will not kill you, it will make you stronger. Your muscles need to time to rest, recover and repair for your next workout. Give your body the recharge it needs to reach new heights each and every workout.