We have become a society of instant gratification and instant results.
At the same time, we are getting busier. It’s not just that we want faster results; we need faster results with less time spent on any given task.
The fitness industry has been no different. We have seen a major rise in popularity of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts like Tabata, Kettlebell training, Crossfit, and many others to help us shed fat and build lean muscles in a shorter period of time.
But with that comes added risk for injury. So how do we get faster and safer workout results? Here are five tips.
How To Exercise Faster…And Safer!
1. Get in a proper warm-up
Not only does warming up before a workout help with performance, but it can also help to prevent injuries, which directly correlates with getting faster and safer results. Too often people are in a hurry and end up skipping the warm-up altogether. This is a poor strategy.
Related: Don’t Make These 7 Common Fitness Mistakes
Warming up improves performance in a variety of ways. When you increase the temperature of your muscles, more capillaries open up, which increases the blood and oxygen flow to the muscles. This also improves nerve transmission and muscle metabolism.
Essentially, warming up before you exercise will mentally prepare you for your workout, which improves technique, skill and coordination. So make it a goal to get in a five to 10 minute warm up before every exercise session.
2. Work out according to your current fitness level
If you’re fairly sedentary and do not exercise regularly—less than two times per week—it’s best to build up slowly, focusing more on developing your cardio base through low-intensity exercises. These include walking, jogging, cycling and some moderate weight training.
You can also begin to add in some safe interval training once or twice a week, such as biking with a work-to-rest ratio of no more than 1:2 or 1:3, using no more than 85 percent of your maximum output level during the interval.
For beginners, I suggest no more than five to 12 minutes of interval training once to twice per week. Moderate exercisers should also cap interval training to one to two times per week, but can increase to up to a 1:1 ratio in 10- to 20-minute intervals.
More advanced athletes can do between two to three days of interval training per week and can go above the 85 percent exertion threshold, do ratios of 1:1 or even higher (such as 2:1), and perform 15 to 30 minutes of interval training for each session.
Related: 4 Benefits Of Interval Training
3. Proper nutrition
It seems obvious that proper nutrition can help performance, but it’s often overlooked, misunderstood, or under-appreciated. But what most people don’t realize is that nutrition can either reduce or increase your risk of injury.
Start with protein, which aids in muscle maintenance, growth, and repair. Without enough protein, muscles will not function or recover well, which will slow your progress and increase your risk of becoming injured.
High-quality fats help increase energy and reduce inflammation. Proper carbohydrates not only provide energy, but also aid in protein synthesis. High levels of antioxidants help minimize free-radical damage caused by exercise, allowing for quicker recovery and better performance.
My best advice is to get plenty of protein and high-quality carbohydrates and fats in your diet, supplementing them with a high-quality antioxidant, multivitamin, calcium, and fish oil supplement.
Related: Why Protein Is Important (And How To Know You’re Getting It)
4. Low-intensity exercises
Including low-intensity exercises for longer periods of time is great for developing a sound cardiovascular base, and it’s even better for recovery.
Again, when muscles are over-trained or aren’t given the proper amount of time to recover, performance is diminished, leading to less-than-desired workout results and massive increase in risk of injury.
Low-intensity exercise helps with muscle endurance and recovery, as well as heart health and heart rate recovery, allowing for better performance and faster results. Try engaging in two to four low-intensity workouts like jogging, cycling or yoga, in addition to one to two high-intensity interval trainings, such as Tabata, Kettlebell training and Crossfit, per week.
Related: The Pros And Cons Of Crossfit: The Truth About This Popular Workout
5. Complete a comprehensive movement screening
If you want faster results in a shorter period of time, your body needs to be in balance. Too many people have imbalances that lead to inefficient movement patterns and increase the risk of injury.
For example, check to see if one calf, hamstring, or hip flexor is tighter than the other. See if you can rotate or lean your torso to one side more than the other. These are indicators of imbalances that can impede progress and cause injuries, especially during high-intensity workouts.
Wanting to get better workout results in a shorter amount of time is natural. However, you must take care of your body to avoid injury. With these tips, you can train hard…and safely.
Sergio Rojas has over 17 years experience as a health, wellness and motivational coach and speaker. He is the Fitness & Wellness Expert for NBC5 in Chicago; a Certified Nutrition Specialist; Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist; Corrective Exercise Specialist; USANA Fitness Expert; the owner of ImFIT Wellness and the former Strength & Conditioning Coach for the WNBA’s Chicago Sky.
Photo by Method Fitness