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Work smart: 5 gym hacks for better results

Can’t seem to make it to the gym these days, or not seeing the results you hoped for? You might be working your butt off, but it’s the little things that can really make a difference when it comes to exercising. After all, as the saying goes, it’s always better to work smart, not hard.

Effective training is all about being creative, and you probably don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars a month just to get so-so results. If you’re going to be spending your hard-earned money, you should have a hardcore bod to show off at the end of it. Which is where gym hacks come in.

From having a snack before a workout, to keeping active between sets and picking up a new exercise, here are some gym hacks to help maximise every single sweat session.

1
Don’t sit between sets

You know what they say, there’s no rest for the wicked. We know how tempting it is to just stop, but taking a break by being completely stationary between sets has several downsides to your workout. Besides hindering optimal recovery because some muscles, including your heart, are at rest, you’re also reducing lower back strength as your lumbar spine reduces dramatically in flexibility after only 2 minutes of being in a rounded position. And most people who sit on a bench between sets sit with rounded lower backs. The time between sets is a great opportunity to maximise performance for your next set. If your back is stiff from those squats reps, squeeze in a couple minutes of back-mobilising exercises before you continue your next set.

2
Switch it up

We’re creatures of habit. However, your body adapts and gets used to a routine pretty quickly, so you won’t see as much improvement if it’s not constantly being challenged. Incorporating new exercises into your routine or even taking up an entirely new sport forces your body to “re-learn” and improve on what it already knows, and you’ll also work muscles — even small ones — that you hadn’t paid much attention to before. Besides, new exercises make the workout more fun and keep the mind alert, so you’ll get even more out of your time at the gym.

(Photo: Victoria Sport Instagram)

3
Time with your playlist

Ever counted down a rep with your stopwatch, only to feel like the seconds pass like minutes? If you’re also constantly staring down the gym’s clock wondering if it’s finally time to leave, this might be the solution for you. Make your own high-octane playlist that corresponds with the amount of time you aim to work out for. Not only will you be kept motivated throughout the session with your favourite beats, you’ll also know when you’re “allowed” to head home — after the playlist finishes, of course.

(Photo: Victoria Sport Instagram)

4
Don’t starve before a session

Your body is a machine, and machines need fuel to work. Exercising with an empty stomach can result in low blood sugar, which leads to light-headedness and fatigue. If you’re getting a solid hour-long workout down, consuming a combination of carbohydrates and protein about an hour before ensures a steady stream of energy that not only powers you through the routine, but also aids in muscle repair after. Some of the best foods for this are bananas, oats and chicken breast.

5
Get it out of the way

This one’s for all the procrastinators out there. Start your day with your workout so you don’t have a chance to skip it later with excuses like being too tired, or last minute appointments. Exercising earlier in the day also has its benefits. It not only refreshes the mind, but also prepares the body for the rest of the day, so you’ll be way more productive, while reducing the chances of injuring yourself.

(Photo: Victoria Sport Instagram)

Shatricia Nair
Managing Editor
Shatricia Nair is a motoring, watches, and wellness writer who is perpetually knee-deep in the world of V8s, tourbillons, and the latest fitness trends. She is fuelled by peanut butter and three cups of coffee a day.