The fact that exercise releases hormones such as endorphins and serotonin, which make us feel happy and euphoric could explain why it has been shown to be successful in combating anxiety and depression. In addition, there are many other positive effects of exercise on our well-being. However, not all the people who have a regular physical activity performance present the same benefits after its implementation. To know why and to understand what we can do to boost our performance, we will explain you in this article.
Here are some tips on how to boost your gym performance.
1. Get enough sleep and rest
According to a Canadian study, the number 1 cause of fatigue while exercising is insufficient sleep. If we do not get enough hours of sleep we will feel weaker since our body will accumulate more lactic acid and cortisol (stress hormone). It has been proven that people who train in their morning hours present higher motivation and perform better in their training than those who do it in the evening. It is important to mention that cortisol levels increase in the morning and by doing a workout (which also releases this hormone) we may experience more gains.
2. Proper hydration
The amount of water we drink is directly related to the performance in our training. A good way to measure how much water you should intake daily is by dividing your weight by two and taking the number of ounces as a reference, so if you weigh 160 pounds, for example, you would need around 80 ounces of water per day (9.5 cups). If you work out, the amount of water that you need to drink will increase since sweating is an important mechanism for our body that eliminates toxins and waste from the bloodstream.
3. Eat enough carbohydrates
Eating carbohydrates before a workout is one of the most successful strategies in order to boost your performance. Carbohydrates give us energy and fuel that we need to keep pushing during the training. According to a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, those who consumed carbohydrates before training presented higher performance than those who only relied on water as their source of hydration (carbohydrates can be found in starchy foods such as bread, pasta, or oatmeal, for example).
4. Consume the right carbohydrates
Not all carbohydrates are beneficial to our body since some of them may cause an insulin spike which can generate more fat in the bloodstream than others (sugars, cakes, etc.). The best way to get our energy from carbs is by consuming ones that have low glycemic index levels since they are absorbed in a slow manner thus keeping our blood sugar levels more stable. When we have low insulin levels it is easier to burn body fat instead of storing it.
5. A proper post-workout meal
After you finish your workout, the best way to boost muscle recovery and growth is by eating foods that include enough protein and carbs. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, those who eat adequate amounts of protein after their workout (close to 40 grams) showed higher muscle mass growth than those who did not consume this macronutrient. In addition, participants who ate sugar along with protein had better muscle recovery rates than those who only consumed protein.
6. Change up your exercise routine
Performing the same exercises over and over again might become boring, which is related to lower motivation to be physically active. Thus it is important to change our training program every 4-8 weeks in order for us to see results since our body adapts very fast whenever we are exposed to something new. Therefore, if you did a high number of reps and sets in your last training, the next one you should aim for fewer reps and sets to give your body time to recover. If you did lower reps and sets, it is recommended that you change your routine so that your muscles will not adapt to the routine and see faster results.
7. Perform workouts with lighter weights
Do you want to boost your muscle endurance and improve your gas tank? The best way to do it is by performing workouts with lighter weights since this will help you build more stamina and keep pushing during the whole training thus making sure that our muscles contract every single time we do a movement (calves, for example, contract each time we pick up the weight). One of the most common mistakes is to aim for high weights and low reps, doing so we actually only focus on building muscle mass and not endurance.
8. Crunches or bicycle crunches?
Crunches and bicycle crunches seem to be the most popular ab exercises but one of them might be better than the other depending on your goals. Crunches are the most common ab exercise since it helps us strengthen our upper abs while bicycle crunches help us isolate our lower abs. Although both exercises have their positive aspects, bicycle crunches might be more beneficial to build six-pack abs since they also train obliques and transverse abdominal muscles.
9. Mind-muscle connection
Building a good mind-muscle connection is the best way to develop our muscles. Our mind is very powerful and in many cases, it can help us push in order for us to continue lifting weights in case we feel exhausted or simply when we want to give up. An easy way to perform this technique is by focusing on our muscles once we start lifting weights. Perform slow reps and focus on feeling the movement instead of just lifting the weight without any specific reason behind it.
10. Try HIIT training
High-intensity interval training workouts are very popular among athletes and fitness lovers since they do not only boost our endurance but also help us lose weight faster. This type of workout consists in performing intense exercises for a certain period of time, resting afterward, and repeating the process several times over an hour or so.