We're well through February and the inevitable question arises, are you STILL achieving the fitness goals you so eagerly created before New Year's Eve? Some of you may be kicking yourself for giving up, others to get into gear -- if you're one of the lucky few you might even be patting yourself on the back. Regardless of where you're at with your fit goals, you've got to make sure you're treating your body right and doing the best you can to get the most out of your workouts. That's where our friend, personal trainer and nutrition consultant Leslie Smith, comes in.
We sat down with Leslie to get the inside scoop on what can really make a workout successul. So, without further adieu, here are three fool-proof ways to make sure you get the most of your workout!
image via: @theonlylisatufano
1. Fuel properly.
PRO TIP: If you're not fueling properly before, during, and after your workout, you're not getting as much out of it because your muscles aren't working to the best of their ability
MYTHBUSTER: People think eating before a run or a workout isn't a good idea. That's not true.
HERE'S WHY: You need to know your body and have an eating plan based on your workout. Eat anywhere between 1-4 hours before a workout, based on your needs. Your body needs the energy. It doesn't need to be a huge meal, but have something with a good balance of protein and carbs. You should eat something (even if it's just a protein bar or shake) within 30 minutes of your workout finishing. You can eat a bigger meal later. Your body needs fuel to repair the muscles that just got worked.
If you are doing a long workout, like a distance run, or an extended amount of time in the gym, you should be fueling during your workout. You should be hydrating throughout, but you also need to put some form of carbohydrate in your body. It can be a gel shot, some nuts, or even a sports drink. Your body needs the energy.
HYDRATE: Stay well-hydrated throughout the day and up your H20 intake on strenous days.
2. Make time to warm up AND cool down.
PRO TIP: Always spend at least 10 minutes warming up and stretching before a workout, and 10 minutes cooling down and stretching after.
MYTHBUSTER: Overlooked by many, the warm up and cool down are an important part of your workout.
HERE'S WHY: If you're running, spend a few minutes jogging to get your muscles warm, then take time to stretch all the main muscle groups before you start the run. If you're lifting or doing another workout, walk, jog, or bike for a few minutes to get the muscles warm, and make sure you do bodyweight/lighter weight exercises before getting into the bulk of the workout.
Stretching should happen after the workout as well, to help prevent muscle fatigue and soreness later on. After your muscles have worked really hard, you need to purge the lactic acids that's built up so you don't get delayed onset muscle soreness. It's also important to stay moving so your muscles don't tighten back up.
3. Have a plan.
PRO TIP: Plan ahead, have a purpose.
MYTHBUSTER: Think a recovery day is a waste of time? Not so.
HERE'S WHY: Every workout should have a purpose. If the purpose of your workout is to have an easy recovery jog, fine. But plan ahead. Leslie schedules her workouts two weeks in advance. "Obviously, they don't always happen exactly as I plan and I have to make adjustments," she says. But when you plan ahead, you're more likely to hold yourself accountable and do it. If you know you have to do leg day three times a week, plan your other days (including recovery days) accordingly.
"I think people do not plan ahead and suffer," Leslie says. "I really believe that if someone plans ahead (along with the proper nutrition, hydration -- which is part of planning) they'll be able to achieve anything."
So there you have it - some great tips for making the most of your workouts. What do you do to get fit? Have any insider tips? Comment below!
To get more fitness inspiration and keep up with Leslie's workouts follow @lesliesmith13 on Instagram!