I see it all the time. Even when I was in college competing at the Division 1 level, I watched it happen time and again. Athletes will give everything they have for the 2 hour practice, but then do nothing to make that workout count later. Why not make the most of the work you just put in? It’s simple, and here are 7 easy ways to make sure your workout counts!
1. Trick yourself into drinking more water. Everyone knows the importance of drinking enough water. Click here if you missed out on 7th grade health class… or life. It’s hard for me to drink water, I get so bored with it. In college, I often times found myself chugging water before bed because I hadn’t drank enough throughout the day. Over the years, my teammates and I have developed strategies to making water more bearable to drink. Water is one of the most important parts of making the most of your workout.
- For the all day drinker: Drink from a container that is fun for your mouth. I use a Camelbak water bottle. For those of you who don’t know, you have to bite down on a mouthpiece in order to drink the water through a straw. Sounds weird, but for someone like me who loves to chew on anything, drinking water becomes an activity. Weird, but true.
- When you want something else to drink: When you order a drink at a restaurant, always order a water along with it. Don’ t let yourself have even a sip of your ice tea or coffee until you’ve drunk half a glass of water.
- Don’t chug: I have been known to chug a few glasses of water in my day. Drink it fast, get it over with. A good friend of mine Brant Bahler who happens to be a very competitive triathlete was the one who informed me that chugging water actually pushes out essential nutrients you need to recover and rebuild. Say goodbye to chugging, and hello to drinking water all day long.
2. Warm-up. Warm-down. Wear long clothes. The purpose of all three of these things is to prevent injury. Paying extra attention to each of them means NOT paying for physical therapy when you blow out your hamstring racing the guy next to you on the treadmill. If you want to be a workout hero, please at least warm-up first. Your workout is worth nothing if it sets you back 6 weeks with an injury.
- Warm-up: The warm-up is highly dependent on what you are trying to accomplish. If you are a hobby jogger/recreational lifter/athlete on a “recovery day” run, you can get away with a 5-10 minute warm-up. Get your muscles warm, your joints mobile, and your body temperature elevated. You should be on the verge of sweating before doing any activity.For athletes who are gearing up for a full work day (like sprinting), it is necessary to get a full, comprehensive warm-up in. Click here for a demo of both a sprint drills warm-up and a recovery day warm-up.
- Warm-down: Although often considered the ugly step cousin, the warm-down is equally as important as the warm-up. A few intentional stretches will prepare you for your next workout. (warm-down video to come… I told you it’s the ugly step cousin right?).
- Wear long clothes. If you do nothing else, wear long sleeves and pants. Even if you are going to be exercising inside, at least do your warm-up and warm-down with clothes on. Our rule of thumb in college was until the thermometer reads 75 degrees or warmer, we had to wear long sleeves and long pants for the warm-up. If you ever get the chance to watch an elite track meet, you will see the pro’s wearing long tights when it is 100 degrees outside. If they do it, don’t you think it might be important?
3. Set up a PR present. I believe in having an intrinsic desire to making the most of every workout, every exercise, every rep, every time. Working hard and doing your very best just because that’s what you do, should be the norm. But let’s be honest, sometimes we need a little extra motivator when the grind gets tough. I call it the PR present. In the track and field world, PR stands for personal record (some call it PB- personal best). Here is what you do.
- Choose a PR you would like to set. Whether its setting a new lifetime PR in the pole vault, or completing your first 5k without walking, identify the PR you are going after.
- Choose a workout specific reward. What I mean by this is, when you set your new PR, reward yourself with something that will encourage you toward another PR. For me this might be a new sports bra or running shirt. Not only did you get a treat for yourself, but everyone knows new workout clothes means motivation to get back out there and look good while you’re doing it!
- HINT*** If you’re a broke college kid, TJ Maxx always has super cheap, NICE workout clothes. Also, if you don’t want to spend any money, here is a DIY workout shirt!
4. Have a goal, and tell someone. Doing this makes your goal real. Once you say it out loud, you are now accountable to the goal, and to another person. Having a hard and fast goal will give purpose to your workout. Matt’s good friend Greg Saul just finished his first Iron Man. Go Greg! You better believe every important person in his life knew his goal, supported and encouraged him, and held him accountable to achieving his goal.
5. Always have a 15 minute back-up plan. Sometimes life gets crazy. You may have every intention of getting in a solid 2 hour lifting session or a 45 minute run, and all of a sudden life gets in the way. Instead of throwing your whole workout to the wind, AT LEAST DO SOMETHING! Last year I worked a conference in Las Vegas for my aunt and uncle’s company. I figured it would be no problem to sneak in my workouts in the early morning. Surprise, surprise I was much busier than expected. Instead of losing a bunch of ground, I was able to make a 15-30 minute workout count everyday! Here is an example of a great way to make your workout a priority even when you don’t have the time.
Do as many rounds as you can in 15 minutes.
- 10 pushups
- 15 lunges each leg
- 20 situps
HINT*** You can do this with any three exercises (pull-ups, burpees, mountain climbers, etc.) Adjust the reps to what is appropriate for your ability level. Feel free to do it for more or less time!
6. ACTUALLY prepare yourself to say no. It’s a Saturday, you’ve already gotten your workout in for the day, your spending the afternoon at a tailgate, and you might as well kiss all your hard work away, right? WRONG! Here are three easy ways to make your Saturday workout count all day by giving yourself a chance at saying no.
- Eat before you head out to a party. If you control what you can control, and eat before you head out the door, it will be much easier to say no to 3 bratwurst and 8 cookies.
- Bring your own healthy dish. Not only will you be able to eat with your company, but you will be a hit with the host of the party! Throw together a super easy turkey chili recipe and you are set!
- Decide beforehand what you will allow yourself. You might be saying, “well this is no fun! Tailgates and holiday parties are about throwing your healthy lifestyle out the window!” To that I’d say, afford yourself one desert, if you must. Whatever your goal is, whether it’s going to the Olympics or dropping 5 lbs, make your mind up to be committed to the goal… all the time… and especially when it get hard.
7. Join the 99¢ plan… Stay “TUNED” for my favorite way to make your workout count. TEASER ALERT!!!
These are 7 easy ways to making your workout count… well, 6 and one to come. If you have a killer way of making your workout count, please post it, and we can all benefit!