It's not as simple as just getting to the gym, but it's also a matter of what you do once there that can hold all the difference in fitness gains, mental boosters, and overall health. Thus, knowing if a workout routine is efficient or not can help you alter it based on need in order to reap the maximum health, mental and physical benefits and start seeing improvements, results, and increases in self-confidence and performance, as explained by personal trainer Keri Lynn Ford, over interview with Huffington Post.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on finding forms of exercise that make them excited, eager to head out to the gym, the great outdoors or to a fitness studio for a class or run that can provide real gains in motivation, energy, mood, mental focus, and self-esteem, and body-love. Who can argue with those benefits, right? Plus, working out boosts strength and bone health, which can make you healthier and more agile, as well, as explained by Dr. Lisa Ashe, Medical Director of The Medical Group, over email with Bustle. Here are 9 ways to know if your workout is effective, and how best to increase it to reach maximum potential, if you feel that it could use a little extra boost in intensity, duration, enjoyment-factor, or other compromised area.
1. You Are Doing Compound Moves
If you are doing compound, body-weight, and high-intensity moves, you're likely to be raising your heart rate and getting in an effective workout that boasts variety, strength and cardio, advises Courtney Paul, celebrity trainer at RIPPED Fitness in NYC and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York over email with Bustle. "A major benefit of using compound, or multi-joint lifts is the systemic stress they exert throughout the target muscles and neighboring areas," Paul says.
2. You Do Circuit Training
Circuit training is a great way to do sprints and work on speed in short periods of time, with enough rest time to not overwhelm the body between sets, recommends Paul. Paul suggests doing the 15/15/15 Workout, where you choose 15 of you favorite fitness movements. "You perform the movements 15 times and you do this rotation for 15 minutes," Paul says.
3. You See Tangible Progress
Over email with Bustle, Angela Mader, founder of fitlosophy, NASM CPT, certified in fitness nutrition and creator of the fitbook series of fitness + nutrition journals, says that if you notice tangible progress, you're doing a good job. "Are you able to lift more weight than you could 4 weeks ago? Can you do more push-ups than you could just a few weeks ago? Track details during your workouts so you can look back and literally see the strength gains you’re making over time. This allows you to adjust and set new goals to push yourself forward, but also recognize how far you’ve come," Mader advises.
4. You Have More Energy
Mader says that greater energy means your workouts are effective and improving. "Rule of thumb is that you should feel better and more energized after a workout than before you started. You should feel fatigued and accomplished, but not dead and defeated," Mader says. If you feel energized and focused after a workout, then you're doing something right!
5. Your Clothes Fit Better
If you're trying to get fit and tone up, that's entirely your choice. And if your using exercise as a means to meet your goals, that's excellent — but try not to focus on the number on the scale. "Don’t rely on the scale as your sole measure of success," says Mader. "When body composition is changing, meaning you’re building muscle and burning fat simultaneously, you may lose inches but the scale may not budge much at all. Two good indicators of progress: how your clothes fit and shifts in body composition," Mader explains.
6. You're Meeting Your Goals
Before exercising, make a list of goals, then check in with them regularly, advises Mader. She explains, "research shows that healthy people are happier, more productive, and are generally just more effective in everyday life. Take time to reflect on more than just your workouts - journal your gratitude and goals so that you’re mindful of how your workouts and healthy habits are connected to your overall wellbeing."
7. You Are Excited To Work Out
If you feel motivated and eager to work out, rather than full of dread, it means it is probably effective, says Noah Neiman, Co-Founder and Chief Fitness Officer of Rumble Boxing over email with Bustle. "Find something that you enjoy and that can become an important part of your lifestyle. Know that working out and exercise should be challenging and nothing good comes easy, so learn to accept the hard work and time commitment," Neiman advises.
8. You Feel Good Sore, Not Chronically Sore
"If you’ve been in a routine for a while (at least 3 weeks), how are you feeling in the hours you wake from the moment you start to workout?" asks Neiman. "If you feel strong and rested (a little sore is ok too!) then chances are you’re on the right path. You shouldn’t feel demolished by a workout," Neiman says. If you wake up feeling fit and energized, you're doing well; if you're constantly sore and tired, you might be overworked.
9. Your Appetite Grows
According to Neiman, intense exercise can up appetite, in a healthy way. "Increased appetite shows us that our body is in need of extra calories to support the work we put it through. If you’re feeling like you need to re-up your calories, then chances are your body is telling you it needs them," Neiman explains. "Eat smart, and make sure you eat enough quality calories to support all that hard work your doing," Neiman says.
If you look for these signs when working out, you'll be able to re-evaluate where you stand regarding results and whether or not you need to alter your program to better suit your needs, schedule, body, or other preferences. Do whatever is best for you, and remember to always track progress and goals!
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