Get the Most Out of Your Workout

Get the Most Out of Your Workout
  • Momentum comes in handy when you're attempting a long jump, but not if you're lifting weights. Each exercise involves two phases: a concentric (contracting) move and an eccentric (stretch) phase. Building momentum by swinging your arms when doing a move like a bicep curl or a tricep push-down sacrifices results by not controlling the eccentric phase, and also increases your risk of injury.
  • Most gyms have televisions so members can catch up on the news or watch movies while doing cardio, and some even feature them in weightlifting areas. But spending half your workout flipping through the channels distracts you from the reason you came to the gym in the first place, so pick a channel and leave it there so you can spend the rest of your workout focusing on your fitness.
  • Holding a stretch for only a few seconds does little to increase your flexibility and may also result in injury. The right way to stretch is to hold still for at least 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Don't wait for the equipment to be available—instead, fill time with exercises you can do without a machine, such as crunches, planks, or push-ups. Or you could jump rope or do a set of high-knees, anything's better than waiting around.
  • Simply showing up isn't enough if you don't put any real effort behind your moves. You can easily cheat your workout even during an intense cycling class. If you don't increase the tension when the instructor tells you to, you can coast through and barely break a sweat.
  • Skipping out on the warm-up means you're missing a crucial component of the class experience. The warm-up phase allows for your body temperature and heart rate to gradually increase, which helps reduce the risk of developing injuries while also preparing you for the main conditioning phase of the class.
  • Meanwhile, abruptly stopping after an intense workout can produce pooling of blood in the lower extremities, which can sometimes lead to dizziness and even fainting, she says. Show up on time and stick it through to the end.
  • If you can read, text, or otherwise give your attention to some other non-workout related issue, you're cheating yourself. Put down the magazine and smartphone and focus on the task at hand.