Work out in the morning.

The first thing you should do in the morning is hit the gym. Don’t think about it. Just tie up your running shoes and get to work. Adding a workout to your morning routine will be second nature after the first few weeks, and you’ll wonder why you never did it before! It gets your metabolism going, so you burn more calories throughout the day. Working out in the morning also tends to increase your energy for the day ahead.

Never go more than two days in a row without exercise.

In order to keep your routine moving and your gains steady, try not to go more than two days in a row without exercise. Staying consistent is key to seeing results. A good rule of thumb is to aim for two days of strength training per week and one to two days of cardio, like swimming or running.

Each cardio session should not be done the same.

Get your heart pumping in a different way each time you head out to do your cardio workout. Changing your cardio routine improves your endurance and boosts calorie burning. Try a mix of cycling, running, swimming, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts like Tabata drills and INSANITY.

Don’t forget strength training.

Incorporating strength training into your routine is what tones your muscles and gives you what you need to pull off those tough yoga poses. Cardio alone isn’t going to build very much muscle. Also, over time, your body will get used to your routine and burn fewer calories. Adding two or three days of strict strength training to your weekly regimen will keep your metabolism on its toes. Start your own dumbbell and barbell routine, or take a CrossFit class to see results in as little as a month.

Learn how to estimate serving sizes.

It’s easy to overeat if you don’t know how many calories you need to consume. Shape magazine has some simple tricks to measure serving sizes. They equate one serving of meat to be about the size of a bar of soap. A serving of cooked pasta should be about the size of your fist, and you can use the tip of your thumb as a guide when measuring fats and oils. These basic tricks will make portion control a lot easier, and prevent you from eating too much.

Control portions when eating out.

Meals at restaurants are often twice the size of a standard, healthy portion, but this is no problem. Using simple tricks to estimate serving sizes, look at your plate and only eat what you think is fitting. Take the rest home and have it for lunch tomorrow! 

Drink plenty of water.

Water is essential to working outright. The human body is composed of about 60% water, meaning you need to hydrate plenty if you want to keep everything working right. This is especially important during intense workouts, where you’ll be sweating and needing to rehydrate often. Electrolytes in water also help energize muscles. It’s recommended to drink about 17 ounces of water about two hours before exercising.

Eat right after your workout.

Within an hour after finishing your workout, eat protein! Protein is going to be what your body uses to build up that six-pack. Eating proteins, carbs, and fats will decrease muscle breakdown, enhance muscle growth, and promote recovery. You can mix powder protein in with a fruit smoothie for a morning breakfast or an evening treat.

Rest one day a week.

You’ve been working hard. Allow your body at least one day a week to recover and rest. If you’ve been killing it in the gym and working up a serious sweat on cardio days, go ahead and kick your feet up for an afternoon. But if you’ve had a more easygoing week, you can incorporate a hike or yoga class into your rest day. You could also dedicate 20 minutes to stretching out sore muscles. No matter how you enjoy your rest day, make sure you soothe tired muscles and fuel up to get back at it the next day.

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