Want to get stronger, fitter, faster? Here are 10 ways to boost your results…
Words: Emma Lewis
Putting in the effort but not seeing the health and fitness gains you’d hoped for? Don’t give up! Sometimes, a small tweak to your routine or programme can make all the difference. We talked to the experts to find out what you may be overlooking in your rush to get that sweat on.
1 Have a plan
Don’t just wander into the gym with no idea what you’re going to do. To make the most of your session, you need to plan it in advance and be focused. ‘Have your workout written out before you start, instead of just making it up as you go along,’ says Chelsea Labadini, trainer at F45 Mill Hill (f45training.co.uk). ‘Be as detailed as possible. I’m talking exercises, reps, sets and rest.’ Don’t forget to ask a gym instructor for advice if you need to.
2 Be progressive
Been doing the same old routine for months? Your body is very good at adapting to the demands you place on it, so keep upping the ante. ‘Whether that be lifting heavier, completing more reps, running for longer or running faster, make sure you have a progression from week one to week six and beyond,’ says Katie Anderson, head of training at Fly Ldn (flyldn.co.uk). Change your exercises every two or three sessions, too, to keep your body guessing.
3 Get technical
Make sure you’re doing the exercises properly to get the most out of them. ‘Just as we learned to walk before we could run, we have to squat before we can squat jump,’ says Labadini. ‘Exercising with good form is essential for avoiding injury, and also works your muscles correctly which means better results. Watch videos, go to classes, ask a professional, read articles, then practise!’ she adds.
4 Up your protein
If you’re not consuming enough protein, your body will struggle to repair and grow muscle. ‘Make sure you’re eating 1-1.5g of lean protein (think fish, beans, eggs, poultry, nuts and lentils) per kilogram of body weight per day,’ says PT and nutritionist Stephen Jones, co-founder of meal-delivery service Nourish Fit Food (nourishfitfood.co.uk).
5 Pump iron
Trying to lose weight? Up your muscle and your body will need more energy to fuel it, which means burning more calories. ‘Lifting weights will shape your body and help you build lean muscle,’ says Labadini. ‘The more muscle you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate, so the more calories you’ll burn over the course of a day.’
6 Find a cheerleader
Don’t slog it out alone. You’ll be more committed and push yourself harder if you do it with someone else. ‘Exercise classes and group workouts work for a reason: you’re around so many cheerleaders,’ says Scott Britton, successful powerlifter, elite-category Crossfitter and founder of Battle Cancer fitness-event series (battlecancer.com). ‘Try to work out with a friend, even if it’s an online Zoom class.’
7 Do big moves
Ditch working your inner thighs on the adductor machine and choose moves that work several muscle groups in one go. This will save you time in the gym and help you burn fat quicker. Try press-ups, squats, lunges and skipping. Experienced exercisers can add serious weights into the mix. ‘Try incorporating a fantastic compound move, such as a deadlift, into workouts,’ says Jones.
8 Hire a PT
If you lack motivation to push yourself to the max, hire a pro. ‘Someone else will always challenge you more than you can ever challenge yourself and make you feel accountable for achieving your goals,’ says Anderson. ‘If you can’t commit to a PT for the long term, ask one for a four- to six-week plan that’s tailored to your goals. Then apply what you learn to your own workouts afterwards.’
9 Know your cycle
Sort out that frustrating dip in energy and performance that crops up every month to sabotage your goals. ‘Ever wonder why you crave fats and feel hungrier around your period?’ asks Dr Mike Molly, nutrition coach and founder of M2 Performance Nutrition (m2performancenutrition.com). ‘You preferentially burn fats around your menstrual cycle, plus your metabolic rate goes up. Lean into this natural pull and include more healthy fats in your diet at this time.’
10 Sleep well
It’s when you sleep that your body gets to work repairing and recovering, so having enough is a must for active people. ‘Sleep is paramount for recovery but also to help you feel less sluggish the next day when training,’ says Anderson. ‘Think of it like a sandwich: recovery and a fresh mindset should be the bread, with sleep being the peanut butter holding it together.’