Exercise is one of the best things you can do yourself. In the immediate short term it improves quality of life so you feel less stress, are able to sleep and concentrate better and have more energy. Long term you can look forward to reduced incidence of chronic illness, healthier weight and better outcomes for functional mobility. If you have already committed to a regular workout routine, kudos! If not, what are you waiting for? These are certainly a few good reasons to get started. Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, here are six tips for a better workout.

First fuel

Drink plenty of water in the hours before your workout and another cup just before you start. Dehydration reduces performance so you won’t be able to be your best if you aren’t properly hydrated. If you workout for more than an hour, or sweat profusely, pop the top on a sports drink for a carb and electrolyte boost.

Also, eat a snack for fuel about an hour before you workout. Good choices include a banana, energy bar, a protein smoothie or apples with peanut butter.

Dress the part

Get the right gear for your workout. Doing so means more comfort and less injury. Choose shoes appropriate for your foot fall and sport, and clothing that offers adequate protection no matter the weather. Don’t forget other kinds of equipment like sports bras and sports cups, gel to prevent chafing, sunscreen, and weight gloves, etc. 

Feel the rhythm

Researchers have found that great music can reduce your perception of exertion. That means when you turn up the tunes you love you are likely to go longer and harder. If you work out outdoors just be sure to keep an eye out for cars and dangerous people.

Two young friends resting after long workout at gym

Get a buddy

Sometimes a buddy can mean the difference between a great workout and no workout at all. That’s because a buddy who functions as an accountability partner boosts your chances of showing up. You will probably also engage in a little friendly competition. No phoning in this workout – you will want to do your best for the bragging rights.

Set a goal

Nobody to compete with? Challenge yourself. Aim to increase reps, speed or otherwise improve performance over time to keep nailing a personal best. The feeling of accomplishment will help you stay motivated even when the scale stalls.

Watch your form

Next to waning willpower, injuries are the most common reason people fall off the workout wagon. Go slowly until you are sure you’ve got the right moves. Workout only as long as you are able to maintain proper form. Don’t forget to include rest days; they help you avoid injury too.

Finally, don’t forget your post workout snack. A combination of carbs and protein will be just the ticket to replenish fuel stores and build muscle. Try to get your snack in within 30 minutes of your workout. Chocolate milk is a good choice so keep a shelf stable single serve carton in your gym bag. Stay active!