Do you feel like you aren’t performing well during your workouts, or are you finding it hard to reach your fitness goals? We want to make sure you get the most out of your workouts, even if you don’t have a lot of time. So what can you do to ensure your workouts, however long or short, are effective?
No matter how much time you have, there are always ways to get the very best out of yourself during a workout. The more effective your workouts, the easier it will be to reach your goals.
The WithU team have pulled together a list of things to consider and implement for you to get the best workout possible.
Fuelling yourself to get a good workout isn’t just about that pre-workout snack. Whilst it is important, our lifestyles around training play a role in supporting our workouts. Hydration throughout the day and sleep, as well as pre and post-workout diet, are all essential elements to consider when looking to improve your training sessions.
We all can attest to feeling a lot better after a good sleep and equally much worse after a bad night. So of course, sleep will impact our workout the next day. Unsurprisingly, research has shown that shorter sleep duration, anything less than 6 hours, will lower physical activity levels the next day.
Good sleep can positively affect our workouts as sleep helps the body recover and repair. When we get enough sleep, our body produces growth hormones that work toward building lean muscle and repair muscle tears caused by working out. This growth hormone is essential for athletic recovery.
Good sleep not only aids us physically but mentally too. Good quality sleep has been shown to improve motivation and focus; people who sleep better are more likely to stick to their workout plan and train effectively. Working on your sleep is essential for improving recovery and performance. Why not try a meditation from the WithU app to help you fall asleep and feel better rested in the morning.
Another essential and often overlooked part of recovery is rest. Rest days are key for recovery and skipping them can cause fatigue both mentally and physically. Exhaustion is going to impact your workout and make it challenging for you to get a good session in. If you’re feeling tired, you are probably better off taking a rest and coming back stronger the next day.
Pre-workout fuelling is important to ensure you have enough energy to perform your best in a workout and get the most out of it. When considering eating before a workout we recommend you consider what will help you sustain your energy, hydrate you, boost performance, preserve muscle mass and aid recovery.
If you can, try to eat about 2-4 hours before your workout. It should include a good amount of complex carbohydrates and lean protein. Complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice or oats, will improve your performance by providing you with a good source of energy. It will also help with your muscle growth, which in turn will help with future performance. By preserving the muscle glycogen and stimulating the release of insulin, which improves protein synthesis, muscle growth can occur.
Carbohydrates alone can only do so much for muscle growth, when a protein source is included, muscle growth can be optimised. Protein intake will support the long term recovery of muscles after training by preventing damage to them during a workout.
Post-workout, it is important to support your body’s recovery in order to help it perform to its maximum potential again later down the line. This can be done through food to replenish your body and rebuild muscles, but also with fluid as rehydration is key.
We know that water is essential for our body’s everyday functioning. It is also an important element for ensuring good performance during a workout, and for recovery, which in turn supports performance later on. The body loses water and salts during exercise from sweat which needs to be replaced in order to recover properly and avoid dehydration. During a workout, dehydration can cause tiredness and have a knock-on effect on performance by reducing both aerobic capacity and strength.
Post-workout replenishing and repairing through food should be done as soon as you can after training, ideally within 45 minutes of finishing a workout. Carbohydrates should be consumed to replenish the stores lost during a training session and protein is essential for repairing the muscle fibres that have been broken down. By doing this you can improve recovery and performance.
During a workout, we create small muscle tears which in the long term make us fitter and stronger, but in the short term need repairing. This repairing occurs through the breakdown of old proteins and the construction of new proteins (protein synthesis). Protein breakdown increases after a workout, and whilst post-workout, protein synthesis does increase, it does not as drastically. So it is important to ensure the body has enough resources for protein synthesis so that it can keep up with the protein breakdown. When enough protein is consumed after a workout, protein synthesis is stimulated and protein breakdown can be suppressed. This supports the repairing and growth of muscle.
Distractions in the gym, at home or out and about, take you away from your workout focus. It’s easy to be distracted by phones and the people around us and cause us to waste time. Focusing on what you’re doing in a workout and staying in the moment is the best way to complete a great workout and get good results. WithU offers an immersive workout experience, through audio-only workouts, helping reduce screen time and distractions.
Another way to get you in the zone and focused is by having the right music to fit your workout to keep the energy high and motivate you. The music on the WithU workouts is curated to fit and compliment every single training session, so no matter the tempo or type of workout, WithU has you covered with great music. This way, WithU can support you to get the best workout possible and help you reap the benefits of every single session.
Working on improving your form will undoubtedly increase the effectiveness of your workout. By ensuring you are executing movements with good form you will be engaging the correct muscles to perform said movements. This will mean that every move and exercise you complete will generate maximum benefits for the body.
To ensure you are using the correct form and moving through an exercise accurately, browse the WithU Exercise Library. It shows you every move from the app’s workouts with audio instruction and visual cues from the WithU avatar. We highly recommend using the exercise library to practice movements and refine your form. This will increase the effectiveness of your workouts and ensure that you are getting the most out of them. You can find the Exercise Library in the ‘discover’ section of the WithU app.
Having a plan before you start your workout is essential. Going into a workout aimlessly, with no structure or focus is an easy way to have a bad session. To get the best out of yourself and your workout, we recommend following a structured workout plan that aligns with your goals.
WithU takes away the pressure and challenge of creating your own plan. Our curated workouts and programmes can help you get in a great workout and support you in achieving your goals, without you having to think too hard about what you are going to do. You can be even more prepared by planning your workouts for the week ahead, and use the WithU app to schedule your sessions and add to your calendar.
Try something new:
You may find that both your brain and body have got used to your workouts and so the repetitive nature of training is meaning you aren’t benefiting, mentally or physically, as much as you could be. If you’re not mentally engaged with your workout, you’re more likely to put less effort in and push yourself less. Changing up your workout can increase the impact that it has. Why not shake it up a little? You could try a slightly harder workout, add new equipment, or try a completely new discipline. The WithU app has workouts across many different disciplines, using both bodyweight and equipment. There is so much choice, it will be easy to find something new for you, to give your workout a little kick!
With some small adjustments to your workout, as well as some pre and post-workout changes, you can start to see some improvements to your training sessions. Even small enhancements to your workouts can amount to huge changes overall and will take you closer to achieving your goals.
American College of Sports Medicine. (2018) Industry Presented: What to Eat Before and After a Workout. https://www.acsm.org/blog-detail/acsm-certified-blog/2018/06/25/what-to-eat-before-and-after-a-workout
Andrews, R. (2020, September 11). All About Post-Workout Nutrition. Precision Nutrition. https://www.precisionnutrition.com/about-post-workout-nutrition
British Nutrition Foundation. (2021). Nutrition for sport and exercise. https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/an-active-lifestyle/eating-for-sport-and-exercise.html?limitstart=0
Kline C. E. (2014). The bidirectional relationship between exercise and sleep: Implications for exercise adherence and sleep improvement. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 8(6), 375–379. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827614544437
Pierre, B. (2021, February 11). Workout nutrition explained. What to eat before, during, and after exercise. Precision Nutrition. https://www.precisionnutrition.com/workout-nutrition-explained