Workout Tips

25 Ways to Improve Your Workout

You never have to endure a bad workout again. Inject these 25 tips into your daily routine to start supercharging your gym sessions.

Man drinking protein shake in the gym

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Immediately after your workout

You've just wrecked your body at the gym. Good. Now it's time to start looking ahead. Your body needs the right fuel to grow and repair itself over the next few days, and you need to start getting ready for your next bout with the weights. That recuperation and preparation starts now. By following these post-workout protocols, not only will you enhance your body's ability to grow from today's beatdown but you'll also get yourself right and ready for tomorrow's trip to the gym.

19. Drink a shake with 20g each of whey and casein proteins

Researchers from Baylor University (Waco, TX) reported that subjects taking a whey-plus-casein protein powder immediately post-workout for 10 weeks increased muscle mass significantly more than those taking whey without casein.

20. Stretch only after training

Stretching right before weightlifting can actually make you weaker during training. Researchers from the University of Texas (Austin) reported that athletes who stretched after their workouts were more flexible than when they stretched beforehand. Plus, it's easier (as well as safer) to stretch a muscle that's already warm and pliable.

21. Take 3-5g of creatine with 50-100g of fast-digesting carbs and 300-500mg of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)

A study from the University of Saskatchewan (Canada) found that subjects who took ALA, creatine and sucrose right after a workout increased muscle creatine levels significantly more than those taking creatine and sucrose or creatine only.

Constant state of readiness

While most of these tips are geared around pre- and post-workout times, there are some things you can do at different times of the day to get the most out of your workouts.

22. Don't drop dietary cholesterol too low

We know cholesterol is important for maintaining testosterone levels, but Kent State University (OH) scientists reported that older adults eating a diet higher in cholesterol while weight training for 12 weeks gained 55% more strength and had more than five times the muscle growth as those following a diet lower in cholesterol. Keep some cholesterol in your diet by eating at least 1-2 egg yolks with your egg whites at breakfast and at least one meal of lean red meat each day. Liver, shellfish and duck are other good sources of healthy cholesterol.

23. If your schedule allows, lift in the evening

Researchers from the University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg) discovered that when subjects worked out after 6 p.m. for 10 weeks, they gained more muscle and lost more bodyfat than a group that trained before 10 a.m.

24. Relax in a sauna or hot tub every day

Japanese researchers reported that rats exposed to a heat chamber set at 105°F for two weeks increased muscle mass by 13% compared to those that weren't exposed to the heat. They concluded the results are likely due to the effect of heat shock proteins (specific proteins in the body that get released when exposed to heat) on cellular mechanisms of muscle growth.

25. Drink four cups of tea during the day

Researchers from University College (London) found that when test subjects were faced with a stressful task, those who drank 4 cups of black tea each day for six weeks had cortisol levels that were almost half of those who drank a placebo. Since exercise is a stressor that increases your cortisol levels, drinking tea can help keep this catabolic hormone lower after workouts, clearing the path to greater growth.

Cruising through a set of heavy squats may not be as tough as actually finding enough time in your day to get yourself to the gym. If that's the case, you need to take every step possible to make sure you get your money's worth while you're there. Every set—every rep—is an investment in your physique, and you don't have the capital to waste on bad workouts. It's a commitment you've made to yourself, and as the saying goes, anything worth doing is worth doing right.