How to workout SMART
Feel like you’re wasting your time at the gym? Working up a sweat, but not getting any closer to your goals? You’re not alone. Read on for the exercise expert’s top tips on how to stick to your workout, keep it effective and stay motivated.
Exercise and Sports Science Australia accredited exercise physiologist Carly Ryan says the key to success is first setting clear goals. “Try following the SMARTR principle when setting a goal, and review it regularly,” she says. “This process will help you get the most out of your workout and stay on track to reach your goals.”
- Specific – there is no point setting a goal to ‘get fit’ as it is too vague. Try setting a goal like ‘be able to run 1km without stopping’.
- Measurable – a vague goal is tough to measure, but with a specific goal you can easily mark off the milestones. Aim for running 200m without stopping, then 300m, and you’ll reach your goal before you know it.
- Achievable – make goals that you will realistically be able to achieve, and in the not too distant future.
- Realistic – there is no point setting a goal to run the London Marathon next month when you can barely run around your local park. Keep your goals realistic.
- Timely – set a time limit for your goal, for example: run 1km without stopping by the end of April.
- Rewarded – when you do reach your goal recognise the achievement and reward yourself. If weight loss is your goal then perhaps don’t head to the all you can eat buffet, but it might be time to pick up the new pair of shoes you’ve been lusting over.
National School of Exercise Science senior lecturer Dr Vanessa Rice adds following the below simple rules will help you reap more rewards from your workout:
- Ensure your program has variety. Doing the same workout day after day will cause a plateau or boredom. If you find that you are not making any gains, then mix up your program. Seek advice from fitness professional on new ideas and correct techniques.
- Include an interval training session. It will help improve cardio fitness, and encourage weight loss. If you are short on time, a quick interval workout can be done rather than skipping a training day completely.
- Pick a program, class or activity that you enjoy. If you are not enjoying what you are doing, you will be more likely to quit.
- Minimise down time. Don't waste time talking between sets or in the change room. Try super setting (working one muscle group and its opposite during rest periods), i.e. do a bench press set followed by a bent over row, then back to bench press.
When exercising at high intensity, Vanessa warns to stay well hydrated and be wary of possible magnesium deficiency. “Strenuous exercise increases fluid loss through urinary and sweat loss which may contribute to magnesium loss,” she says.
Magnesium contributes to energy production, electrolyte balance and oxygen uptake so magnesium deficiency can lead to a loss in stamina. Try increasing your intake of dark green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts and fish, or use a good quality magnesium supplement.