How does one get the maximum out of their time spent at the gym or exercising? We all try to incorporate healthy meals, responsible habits and routines into our lives, all in the name of balance.

These easy steps below will help you to make the most of the time that you dedicate to building that dream body.

Two of the most important role players in your regime are the following: having enough energy to to perform during your workout and following the right steps after your workout to ensure muscle growth and recovery.

Eating Right:

What you want to ensure is a kick-started metabolism and good blood flow. A good way to incorporate roughage into your diet is by eating enough fruit. Fruits such as bananas and oranges contain the natural sugars and minerals like potassium you need to regulate your blood sugar levels, carbohydrates and amino acids. This will also help to prevent cramps, boost the immune system with Vitamin C and provide electrolytes for optimal performance. Chia seeds are also a great source of protein; sprinkle it into any shake, smoothie or breakfast cereal to help cleanse the system and provide the essential elements to promote muscle development.

Remember to eat meals between at least 15-30 minutes prior to exercise; eating uses a lot of the body’s energy and therefore, the goal is for food to be completely digested by the time your workout commences.

Warm ups & cool downs:

Since the day we started P.E. at school, coaches have also told us to “stretch before you start exercising” and for obvious reasons. A sudden surge of energy might inspire you in one moment, but might be short-lived if you pull a “hammie” halfway round the bend. Start with the neck and work your way down through to each component. The more time you have to spend on exercising, the more stretches you can incorporate, but if you’re pressed for time, remember to stick to the following focus areas:

  • Neck
  • Arms & shoulders
  • Hips
  • Glutes
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Ankles

Remember not to rush through stretches and not to force yourself or your muscles. Longer stretching promises for leaner, warmer muscles. All of these muscle groups should be worked again after your workout, especially if you’ve completed something similar to a high intensity spinning class.

Post workout regimen:

Congrats! You have just finished another successful and rewarding session at the gym. Now what? Water is key. Without water, your body is unable to transport and carry out all of the activity that needs to take place. Rehydrate after workouts and make sure that you incorporate enough water into the rest of your day.

Good foods to eat for muscle recovery include nuts, such as almonds and cashews. Greek yogurt is also a fantastic source of healthy fat, as well as avocados. No one needs an excuse to eat those! The aim for a post workout meal would be to restore all the sugars in the body and to provide it with the nutrients to recover from exercise. Whole and low G.I. foods such as quinoa and bulgar wheat serve as great bases for dishes and provide a healthier alternative to more common or refined forms of carbohydrates.

Different strokes for different folks:

You know yourself and what works for you and your body. So try out different things! Experiment with smoothie-making and look up new stretches that will benefit that booty. At the end of the day, it’s about finding a routine that works for you and your ever-changing schedule. Don’t be afraid to push yourself to the next level and remember… progress starts outside of the comfort zone.