Essential Workout Components

What makes a workout great?

Is it how hard you work, the exercises you do, the order you complete them, where you workout, who you workout with, how prepared you are?

All of the above.

A great workout is the perfect combination of proper ingredients to create a fun and effective experience. It is safe yet challenging while providing the necessary tools to promote muscular and cardiovascular fatigue. Many gym goers have trouble forming well balanced, safe workout routines that can evolve around their fitness goals so they stick to familiar routines or machines. How often do you see someone do the same cardio workout on the same treadmill? There’s always one!

Break the boring mold and shake your workouts up regularly to fight injury, boredom, and burn out. As you create your workouts, remember to include these essential components.

A proper warm up and cool down:
A warm-up will gradually increase your heart rate, loosen your muscles, allow your ligaments and tendons to become more flexible, and prevent injury. It doesn’t take long and the benefits far outweigh the repercussions of skipping a warm-up. Build an extra 3-7 minutes into your workout time to make sure your body is prepared for the demands of exercise before you begin. A warm-up should consist of a few limbering stretches along with a few heart rate elevating movements.

Much like a warm-up, a cool down doesn’t take much time and the benefits are exponential. Your cool down slows your heart rate and gradually reduces body temperature to provide a smooth transition for you body back to normal activity. Your cool down is where your body begins recovering from your workout and preparing for you next one. Options may include a lower intensity cardio activity for a few minutes, balance training, and some gentle stretching.

A plan:
Walking into the gym with no plan can take time away from your workout and create unnecessary stress. Having a general goal for your workout and deciding how you will accomplish it will keep you focused, motivated, and safe. Start by choosing your targeted body areas for that workout (cardio, upper body, lower body, full body), then narrow down your rep and set numbers to know how much weight you should be lifting. A general rule would be to lift less weight and utilize higher reps or more weight and lower reps.

It also helps to have a set workout schedule that will determine what area of your body will be working on a particular day. This way if you are having trouble figuring out what to do, you can at least focus on only upper body strength workouts versus starting at square 1.

Safe environment:
It seems like a simple concept, but having the right environment can boost your workouts. You want to be in a clear and clean gym without clutter on the floor around your feet. Many gym injuries happen when someone is not operating safely in the surrounding environment. A perfect example would be if you tripped over a set of dumbbells that were left on the floor instead of re-racked.

Choose a gym where the staff is capable of assisting you with spotting, answering questions, demonstrating exercises, or making programming recommendations. If you workout with a partner, you want someone who will be positive and encouraging partner while promoting a safe and effective workout. I’ve watched plenty of people goof off with their buddies in the weight room and end up hurt.

Proper workout clothes are vital to ensuring your safety. A big baggy shirt or pair of pants may be comfortable but can easily get caught up in a machine or stuck under a weight stack. Safe shoes, particularly in the cardio room will keep your feet healthy and protect your joints from impact.

Core training:
Your core consists of your abdominals, hip flexors, obliques, and glutes. Focusing on your entire core versus just your abdominals will improve your posture, endurance, balance, and prevent injury (particularly back pain). Along with a warm-up and cool down, core training tends to be overlooked or not given the credence it deserves. It could be as simple as a few timed plank and superman intervals

Combine these elements and you are sure to have a successful and awesome workout regimen.

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What is one essential component for your workouts?