There are a lot of small changes you can make to improve your experience in the gym. From drinking enough water to stretching when you finish exercising, a few little changes can make a big difference. Check out these five tips to help you get the most out of your next workout.

Check Your Habits Away From the Gym

Getting enough sleep, drinking enough water and eating a healthy plant-based diet are just as important as your workouts. When you’re away from the gym, your muscles need some down time to recover from exercise, and plenty of water and nutrients to support recovery.  With too little sleep, you may lack the focus, energy, and stamina to work out effectively. If you are dehydrated, your body will not be able to exercise properly. Your muscles need to rest and stay hydrated, just like your brain! To make each workout productive and effective, swap out some of your bad habits for healthier ones. 

  Eat Before You Sweat

Another way to improve your workouts is to eat something within an hour or two before you begin exercising. Exercising on an empty stomach is like trying to start your car with no fuel in the tank. In fact, working out on an empty stomach can even be dangerous! Without the proper fuel, your blood sugar levels may drop, causing dizziness and nausea. If you try to lift weights with low blood sugar, your muscles will not perform at their best because they need glucose to produce energy. This could cause early fatigue, affecting your form and increasing your risk of injury.  

 Do a Proper Warm-Up

Warming up before you exercise is one of the best ways to avoid injuries. Low-impact rhythmic movements like walking or cycling gradually increase your heart rate and warm your muscles up. As more blood flows to your muscles and joints, they become more elastic, helping you perform your exercises properly, through a full range of motion. Even warming up for five minutes can improve the effectiveness of your workouts. It does not take much to loosen up your muscles and get your blood pumping, so be sure to add a good warm-up to your routine. 

  Focus on Form 

Maintaining proper form is essential for any workout. Perform each exercise through your full range of motion. Keep your knees slightly bent and your back in proper alignment, and contract your abs to stabilize your spine. Avoid hyperextending your joints. Good form reduces your risk of injury and targets your muscles in the way they are meant to work, meaning better results.  If you are not sure about your technique, hire a trainer or do some research online. You should not feel any joint pain during exercise, although you may feel a burn in your muscles. Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong, so stop and assess your form to ensure you are doing each exercise correctly. 

  Finish with a Stretch 

Your muscles, joints and connective tissues benefit most from stretching immediately after your workout, while they are still warm and elastic. Stretching keeps your joints and muscles from stiffening up, and helps your cells return to their resting state. Post-workout stretching is also the perfect time to improve your flexibility and realign your body. It may help reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and speed your post-workout recovery. 

It doesn’t take much to improve your workouts. Just making little changes can increase your benefits and help you reach your goals more quickly. Use the five simple tips above to reduce your risk of injury and take your fitness to the next level.