5 ways to fire up your gym workouts

Whether you want to get stronger, add more muscle or burn more fat, there are various ways you can boost your performance in the gym.

Here are 5 of the most effective:

#1. Think strong

Visualisation and mental imagery are powerful yet often underutilised tools, particularly where strength is concerned.

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For instance, a study conducted by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation compared people who went to the gym with people who carried out virtual workouts in their heads.

The gym-goers experienced a 30% increase in strength, while the virtual training group increased bicep muscle strength by 13.4% by merely visualising the workout. They also maintained those gains for three months following the mental training.

#2. Get a pre-workout boost

Pre-workout supplements contain ingredients that boost energy before a tough session and enhance performance during a session while also supporting endurance and mental focus.

Look for reliable and renowned ingredients such as beta alanine, L-arginine, creatine, BCAAs and caffeine in your pre-workout of choice.

Highly effective ingredients such as creatine and caffeine are vital as they’ve been shown to provide strength benefits when used in the correct dosage.

#3. Wear minimalist shoes

Minimalist footwear enhances proprioception – the awareness of our limbs in space and our movement patterns. This helps to control our movements, and improves our balance, coordination and our posture for better joint alignment.

These are the key ingredients for efficient and powerful human movement because we’re able to generate more force through our planted feet and we’re better able to maintain the correct, natural position of our body during complex compound movements.

#4. Warm up properly

We’re all strapped for time in our hectic modern lives, which means we often skip a proper warm up before a weight training session. However, when we do we compromise our performance.

A 10-minute warm-up that consists of light aerobic activity, followed by some dynamic stretching and mobility work helps to increase blood flow to muscles and activates the neuromuscular system, which delivers increased strength when it comes time to lift.

A proper warm-up increases blood flow to your arms and legs and raises skin temperature, which has a direct effect on your strength, according to research. And a good warmup also reduces our injury risk, especially when training with heavy loads.

#5. Hydrate right

Most of us are dehydrated because we don’t drink enough water throughout the day. This has detrimental effects on our strength as it limits our muscles’ ability to produce force.

A study conducted at the University of Connecticut determined that “hypohydration (a decrease in water volume in the body) attenuates resistance exercise performance”, particularly in subsequent sets.

It is vital to drink sufficient water every day – general guidelines suggest 2-3L per day and between 250-400ml per hour during exercise, depending on the conditions.

Water balance is also affected by electrolyte balance, so it’s also a good idea to replace electrolytes regularly, particularly if you sweat a lot or exercise intensely on a regular basis.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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