If you're like most people, you probably have trouble finding enough time to work out as much as you'd like. That's why when you do finally get to exercise, you need to make every minute count. Some workout routines are more efficient than others, so it's important that you choose your exercises carefully. There are also some other simple changes you can make to your lifestyle that will help ensure you receive optimal benefits from the efforts you put forth exercising. Here are some tips for maximizing your workout benefits.
Use interval training
No matter which type of exercise you prefer, you can get a bigger bang for your buck by switching to interval training. This is a technique whereby you alternate short burst of very intense exercise with longer periods of rest or lower intensity exercise. This method of "starting and stopping" helps your body burn more calories and fat by helping it to process lactic acid buildup in a more efficient manner. The National Strength and Conditioning Association has guidelines for the ideal ratio of high intensity to low intensity exercise that depend on the length of your high intensity interval. For example, if you sprint for 30 seconds, you should use the ratio of 1:3 and follow that by a period of rest or slow walking for a minute and a half. Whether you like running, step aerobics, cycling, or swimming, there are ways you can adapt your routine to reap the benefits of interval training.
Get enough rest so your muscles can recuperate
You might be surprised to learn that your muscles actually grow while your body is at rest. Working your muscles causes tiny tears to form and it is during rest that these are repaired, boosting your metabolism and building up your muscles in the process. That is why it is not ideal to lift weights every day. Instead, give your body 24-48 hours in between lifting sessions for your muscles do to their work. You can still do other types of exercises on your days "off". Some people work different muscle groups on different days, focusing on arms every other day and legs on the days in between. Likewise, getting adequate sleep at night can help keep your body working properly and give you the energy you need to complete a proper workout.
Make sure you are lifting enough weight
You probably already know that building muscle helps raise your metabolism so that you burn more calories even when you're not working out. However, it's not enough to simply lift weights. You need to make sure you are lifting enough weight to get the maximum benefits to your metabolism. As a general guide, you want to lift weights that are heavy enough that you can only perform about 8 to 10 repetitions before becoming too fatigued to continue. This is the fastest way to become stronger and build muscle at the same time.
Choose appropriate post-workout snacks
A post-workout snack is important for helping your body replenish glycogen that is lost during exercise. It also gives your body energy to repair muscle tissue. Your snack should be mostly protein but you also need to add a small amount of carbohydrates into the mix. A few good options include a whole wheat pita spread with hummus, apples with peanut butter, half a tuna sandwich, or yogurt with berries. As you can see, with just a few simple tweaks, you can get better workout results.
About the Author: Aside from being a personal trainer, Steven Madison writes about other health and science related material, like anatomical and skull models for scientific research. In his free time, he loves to hike, swim and climb with his beautiful wife.