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7 Expert Gym Tips to See Faster Results at the Gym

10th May 2024

10th May 2024

By Liz Connor

If you're someone who squeezes your workouts around a busy schedule, chances are, you’re looking to break a sweat in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Sure, you could stick to your current routine of blindly lifting and hoping for the best, or you could adopt a science-backed training approach that focusses on the fundamentals of building muscle, losing weight and gaining power.

Handily, you don’t need to rip up the rulebook to reap the benefits; a few subtle tweaks is all you need to maximise your gym workout efficiency.

From simple changes like upping your reps, to trying new disciplines, or even refining your gym playlist, use these expert gym tips to improve your fitness results.

1. Utilise the power of compound exercises

Time is precious, and you don’t always have hours to spend on a workout. When it comes to getting faster results from your lunchbreak sweat, compound exercises are the real deal.

These multi-joint movements work multiple muscle groups at once, so you get more bang for your buck. Take the humble squat for example, which works the obvious legs and glute muscles, but also brings a fiery challenge to the core too.

While hopping on gym machines like the leg press and bicep curl are great for focussed work on a specific area, experts say that they typically don't recruit the same variety of muscles like compound exercises do - so you might need to spend more time at the gym to achieve similar fitness results.

Our gym tip solution? Rather than impatiently waiting in line for a busy machine, grab a mat and do some weighted lunges, pushups and pull-ups instead. It’s a full-body workout without the wait.

2. Cross-discipline train

When it comes to fitness, most of us are guilty of sticking within our comfort zones, doing the same type of exercise week-in-week-out.

While there’s merit to mastery, studies have found that supplementing your schedule with different training methods can build faster results in your primary discipline.

Known as cross-discipline training, a 2018 study found that swimming and running produce different beneficial effects on the heart’s ability to pump oxygenated blood around the body, suggesting that combining these two sports in your weekly routine can lead to better cardiovascular endurance overall.

And additional research suggests that cross-training weightlifting with activities like Pilates, boxing,or yoga can elicit greater power from your primary muscles, improve recovery, and even reduce the risk of injury too, creating a more well-rounded athlete profile.

3. Switch up your playlist

Listening to music when you’re working out doesn’t just kill boredom - studies have found that it can seriously help to improve the quality of your session. Consider this your easiest fitness improvement technique.

But when it comes to the type of tunes you choose, it’s the timing that matters. According to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, high-tempo music - the type that equates to about 170 heartbeats per minute - is the most effective at reducing perceived effort and increasing cardiovascular benefits.

The researchers found that along with boosting your enthusiasm for a 6am leg sesh, music can lessen perceptions of fatigue and inspire random bursts of effort. So, instead of tuning into the latest true crime podcast, plug into a playlist filled with clubland classics for a science-backed energy hit.

4. Get a gym frenemy

When you’re working out alone, it’s easy to slack off; a 10K run becomes a light sprint with a couple of half-hearted press ups, followed by an hour in the sauna as a reward for your hard work.

So when a serious case of gym lethargy strikes, working out with a friend can stoke up your fitness fire. Competition is a driver, and when it’s applied to a workout, it’s the potent fuel to add an extra weight to the barbell, push your speed up on the treadmill and get you to the edge of your fitness limits.

A study published in the journal Preventative Medicine Reports discovered that having access to a competitive leaderboard during workouts significantly increases people's motivation to exercise. Yup, a competitive friend might be all the inspiration you need to restore your waning gym commitment.

5. Take recovery seriously

Recovery is a big trend in fitness right now, and with good reason too. Taking regular rest days leads to greater gym workout efficiency, as it helps to repair damaged tissues, prevents overtraining, and avoids hitting a plateau.

But research suggests that optimal recovery includes both complete sofa-based rest and active recovery: low or no-impact exercise that complement the demands of your high-impact efforts.

A 2019 study looking at the impact on sprint interval training found active recovery can lead to greater endurance adaptions, meaning that just walking to the coffee shop on your rest day could actually help you to run faster overall.

Along with a gentle stroll, good examples of active recovery include yoga and swimming - gentle activities that speed up the process of repair and adaptation by increasing blood circulation around your body.

To dial up the fitness results, team your rest days with Innermost’s Recover capsules, which contain anti-inflammatory nootropic ingredients that support your body’s response to physical stress.

6. Switch stretching for mobility

Mobility often gets mislabeled as stretching, but this warm-up technique is more about improving the range of motion in your joints and muscles, rather than just straight-up touching your toes.

Unlike static stretches, complex mobility drills are about building the ability to move a joint, and its surrounding muscles, to the full range it was designed for.

This is particularly useful for maximising fitness efforts in strength training, as lifting weights can lead to tight myofascial tissue, which can hamper your ability to maintain the correct form in explosive moves like overhead presses.

Tapping into mobility usually involves cycling through a number of ‘drills’, like arm rotations with a resistance band, lateral lunges and hip openers. But if you’re keen to get started, we recommend speaking to a qualified PT who can assess your current range of motion and put together an effective training routine based on your specific goals.

7. Amp up the challenge

Progressive overload training is a smart strength-training approach that makes workouts more challenging over time.

Most of us know that the simplest way of achieving effective training results is to lift heavier weights month after month, but there are other ways to dial up your resistance beyond just upping your dumbbell number.

For example, you could increase volume by doing more reps, double the number of sets, or shorten your rest periods. Slowing down the speed at which you lift can also increase the time your muscles are under stress, yielding greater results.

Going into your next training session armed with a variety of ways to challenge your muscles doesn’t just help prevent plateaus, it can also keep your workouts engaging on days where your motivation is flagging.

More time, less boredom and faster results? Count us in. And be sure to check out our range of transparent, scientifically backed supplements that have been designed specifically to help you reach your goals more effectively.

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From the Bedroom to the Gym: Is Your Sex Life Affecting Your Workout Performance?
The relationship between sex and workout performance is one that’s long been debated by scientists and fitness fanatics alike. It’s complicated and multifaceted, so answering the question of whether your sex life is affecting your training is difficult. That said, today we’re going to take a look at a variety of evidence, both academic and anecdotal, as well as several different scenarios and at least try to reduce some of the mystery around the subject. First, it helps to understand what’s actually happening to the body, both physically and psychologically, during both activities.   The Effects of Sex on the Body Sexual activity causes several changes to occur in the body:   Physical Changes That Occur During Sex During sexual activity and the lead up to it, the human body undergoes a process known as the sexual response cycle. This is the case for both males and females, though the cycle can be highly individual and may not be the same each time for each person. Describing the full sexual response cycle is beyond the scope of this article, however it consists of 4 phases: Desire Arousal Orgasm Resolution Factors such as elevated heart rate, increased blood flow and pressure and heightened muscle tension all come into play. If you’d like to read about the sexual response cycle in more detail, check out this great article from Cleveland Clinic.   Psychological Changes That Occur During Sex Several psychological changes occur both during and after sex. Most notable are the release of endorphins and oxytocin, which are associated with improved mood and a better sense of wellbeing. These are also responsible for reduced stress levels, which brings a multitude of additional benefits that are of particular interest to those of us participating in regular training and exercise. Cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress, is catabolic in high levels, meaning it can cause the breakdown of lean tissue. So, whilst it is unclear whether sex itself affects workout performance, the reduction in stress levels it may bring is definitely beneficial for preserving our results!   The Effects of Exercise and Training on the Body Exercise and training also cause the body to undergo a number of changes. These occur both during and after the physical activity. There are in fact a number of similarities in changes that happen during exercise and sex:   Physical Changes That Occur During Exercise The physical changes that happen in the body vary based on the type of exercise being undertaken, however, there are some that are common to exercise in general: Increased heart rate Increased blood flow, especially to the muscles Faster, deeper breathing due to additional oxygen needs Heightened activity within the circulatory, respiratory, musculoskeletal and endocrine systems A full summary of the changes that occur within these systems can be found here. More aerobically demanding exercise will, of course, place greater emphasis on the circulatory and respiratory systems as well as causing fat to be metabolised as an energy source. Resistance training, which often relies more heavily on the lactate and creatine phosphate energy systems, instead promotes greater muscular and endocrine (hormone) activity. Note the common physical changes between sex and exercise here, as they do crossover!   Psychological Changes That Occur During Exercise The psychological changes that occur during exercise are similar to those experienced during sexual activity and are mostly related to the release of endorphins and other ‘feelgood’ hormones. These help to regulate mood, and it is common knowledge that frequent exercise and leading an active, healthy lifestyle promotes a feeling of wellbeing.   Does Sex Affect Our Workouts? This is where things become complicated. Though extensive studies have been done on the subject, the results of these have varied massively. We must also take into account the experience of individuals, and this anecdotal evidence again has huge variance. Let’s look at both:   Sex and Training: What the Science Says Scientific studies on the relationship between sex and training are contradictory at best. There’s no denying the positive benefits of both activities, particularly from a psychological perspective, but as for the effect of sex on actual performance in the gym the results are inconclusive. A study, published in April 2021, by Kirecci, Albayrak and co. examined the effects of sexual activity of 50 men in the 24 hours prior to training on lower body strength. The study measured effects by having the men perform 3 separate squat sessions, each at the same time of day. Each of these sessions occurred after participating in or abstaining from sexual activity the night before. The men performed 5 sets of 5 repetitions of their maximum squat weight during these sessions and the difference in weight lifted was observed. The study concluded that ‘sexual intercourse within 24 hours before exercise [has a] detrimental effect on lower extremity muscle force, which suggests that restricting sexual activity before a short-term activity may be necessary.’ Aside from this study, most others found either no notable relationship between sex and athletic performance. A meta-analysis of 9 crossover studies, conducted by Zavorsky and Brooks and published on 16 September 2022, confirms this. The analysis concluded that ‘The results demonstrate that sexual activity within 30 min to 24 h before exercise does not appear to affect aerobic fitness, musculoskeletal endurance, or strength/power.’ This is perhaps more notable, because these studies incorporated different types of exercise and were not restricted purely to a strength/power based activity like squats.   Anecdotal Evidence: What About the Experiences of Real Gym Goers? The anecdotal evidence is, as expected, highly individualised. However, there tends to be a bias against the results of most studies, particularly in those participating in sports involving strength and aggression. For example, many fighters claim that they perform better when they abstain from sex in the days leading up to a contest. Similarly, bodybuilding forums are full of debate on this topic and many claim they note a significant decrease in motivation to train at maximum intensity after sexual activity. It has been hypothesised that this may be due to a downregulation in testosterone production after sex; during orgasm the mineral zinc is released in the body and this is also a precursor for natural testosterone production in the body and may, therefore, provide some reasoning as to the experience of many trainees.   Key Takeaways The relationship between sex and workout performance will always be a complicated one. The effects of one on the other in terms of physical fitness and, in particular, mental wellbeing, are clear, but when it comes to actual performance this appears to be highly individual. We’d advise doing what feels best for you but not worrying too much about it. Instead, prioritise your nutrition and make sure you’re fuelling your workouts properly. While you’re here, why not take a look at the Innermost range? We’re proud to be completely transparent about the ingredients in our products and we always ensure they’re of the highest quality. Check us out, and be sure to get in touch if you have any questions!
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