6 Workout Hacks, Plus 8 Tips for Beginners

workoutWe all know that working out is a requirement to good health. Getting started is half the battle and without a plan you will quickly become frustrated and eventually quit. What good is that? So, for all of you (and I am in this group) that need to step up to the plate and become a little more active, consider these tips to help ensure you have drive to keep it up!

  1. Always Do Weights Before Cardio: Most people are confused about this one, and I regularly watch people at my gym do the opposite.
    However, trainers, serious athletes and bodybuilders do weights first: this way, your heart rate goes up and when you lift, your body is in more of a fat burning mode. Doing the opposite means that your muscles are already tired by the time you get to weight-training. However, always remember to warm up for a few minutes before hitting the weights.
  2. Splurge on a Trainer or Great Instructor: If you want some extra motivation to go to the gym, nix thoughts of fancy, expensive shower gels, and get yourself a trainer, or register in a yoga/spin/aerobics/kick boxing/(name your preferred activity) class with a great instructor. Nothing will motivate you and get you to make the most of your workout like an experienced, fit person, pushing you when you just want to stop and sit down. If you can’t afford a regular trainer, but want to splurge, book one session so that he/she can help you with your posture.
  3. Clench Your Muscles: You know how to breathe when you’re lifting weights: now start clenching your muscles, too. For instance, clench your biceps/triceps when doing lifts, clench your abs when doing crunches.
  4. Do Two Sessions: After each workout session, there’s a post-workout calorie-burning time. You can double that time by splitting your session into two, if you have enough time.
  5. Always Do Weights In front of a Mirror: This is especially important to remember when you’re at home, not surrounded by mirrors on all sides. By seeing what you do, you can ensure that your posture is correct.
  6. Mix it Up: Once you’ve established a routine, you might feel more comfortable, but so will your body: meaning, you won’t be as effective in burning fat and building muscle. You’re also likely to get bored pretty soon. So have fun when you’re exercising, by mixing things up: take a few yoga classes if you don’t normally do yoga, or do some spin classes if you’ve never done that before. Try alternative workouts, like salsa dancing and hiking. If you’re used to running on the treadmill, increase the incline, or skip the treadmill altogether in favor of the elliptical machine.

If you’ve just started working out, here are some more tips that you should remember:

  1. Start Slow: Don’t jump into it all too suddenly: increase workout intensity gradually and avoid hurting yourself.
  2. Do it Daily: Working out daily is the only way to stop yourself from slacking off. It may sound difficult, but it’s actually easier than exercising 3 or 4 days a week. Just do it!
  3. Alternate: Just because you’re working out daily doesn’t mean you push yourself every day. Alternate with one day of strenuous exercising, and another easier day which will let your body recover and your muscles build up.
  4. Listen to Your Body: Working out can be difficult for a novice. Make sure you don’t over-exert yourself, and always listen to your body. Feeling tired is good: feeling a sharp, jabbing pain means you need to stop at once.
  5. Ice Yourself: If you do manage to get hurt, use an icepack. Professionals swear by them.
  6. Buddy Up: If you can’t afford a trainer or a great instructor, or you don’t think you’re ready for one yet, grab hold of a friend with similar goals. Push each other, and hold each other accountable for showing up and working out.
  7. Fast Music is Your Friend: One of the easiest ways to get through a grueling workout is to listen to fast, fun music. It may be corny advice, but fast music really does make it easier to slog away at whatever form of cardio you’re doing.
  8. Talk to Yourself: But do it silently, so that people don’t think you’re crazy.

    Shutting out negative thoughts, like, “Ugh, I’m so tired” or “I hate coming to the gym” helps, but replacing them with positive thoughts is better. Try to reframe your situation so that you actually enjoy what you’re doing. Tell yourself that yes, you’re tired, but that’s good, because it means you’re a lean, mean, calorie-burning machine. Self talk like “I love the gym”, “I love the post-workout high” and “I love doing these terrible crunches because I’m going to love my six-pack” might sound dumb in theory, but in practice, it really helps you to work out harder, more effectively, and more cheerfully.

Good luck!

This post’s author is Ruby Cinatta.

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