10 Tips to Maximize Your Workout

If you are going to dedicate the time to work out, the least you can do is be sure to get the most out of the time you've invested. Why not max it out? Here are ten tips for squeezing the last drop of goodness out your sweat time.

The Prep
[1] Eat before and after you train. You are going to be tearing down muscle fibers and (hopefully) burning through fat deposits. Remember to have a light snack of low-fat protein and a bit of complex carbohydrate about 30 minutes before you train. Consider a cup of coffee beforehand, too. Some research indicates that the caffeine helps you maintain your energy level and burn fat faster.

[2] Work hard? Then sleep hard, too. Your body needs recovery time, and a precious part of that recover time can only occur while you are asleep. So don't short-change your training routine by cheating your sack time.

The Workout
[3] Warm up before you hit it hard! Cold muscles are much more likely to get injured, so get yourself warm before taking on any strength-related training. Stretching, although popular, may have some negative impacts on your performance.

[4] Balance in all things. Exercise balancing muscle groups. We've all seen those tennis players with one HUGE arm and one skinny arm. Don't let that happen to your muscle groups. Working on your biceps? Don't overlook your triceps. Every muscle has an opposite, and it deserves some love, too!

[5] Flexibility and range of motion is as important as brute strength. Speaking of painful images, haven't we all seen those weightlifters who can't clap their hands because they are too musclebound? Be sure to mix in flexibility and range of motion exercises into your training routine. You never now when you are going to need to scratch the middle of your back!

[6] Don't do it just because everybody else is. There are some pretty creative exercises showing up in gyms across the country. Don't mimic the routine going on at the next station. Your workout is right for you. Only add exotic exercises at the recommendation of a professional.

[7] Enough is enough. Keep your sweat time to under an hour. This surprises many people, but too much exercise IS NOT a good thing. You have reached the point of diminishing returns after about 45 minutes of moderate exertion. Spend that last 15 minutes on cool-down routines, maybe some flexibility work. Then pack it in until tomorrow!

After the Workout
[8] Give your body time to recover. Don't punish the same muscle groups every day. Find the right exercise rotation for your body, but give the major muscle groups a day or two to recover between beatings. The tissues need to time to heal and rebuild. You will be glad you did.

Remember to eat after the workout, too. Again, low fat and high protein foods are your friends.

[9] Stay focused on your workout. Leave distractions in the locker. That means no chatting on the phone, or texting your buddies about how amazing your last lift went. It is too easy to get distracted and lose you critical pacing. Plus, everyone around you will like you better.

[10] You're here to work, not to flirt. Save the chatty pickup lines for after the workout. Believe it or now, they're trying to get some exercise, too, and you might just be ruining their pacing. Or their day. Don't be that guy.

So that's our top 10 tips for a better workout. What tips have you picked up?

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