1. Workout Multiple Muscle Groups
The more muscles you work at one time, the more calories you’ll burn. Compounding exercises, like squats, dead lifts and bench presses, will give you the most bang for your buck as they engage multiple muscles in your upper or lower body simultaneously. Revamp your routine by including exercises that work more than one muscle group or combine two moves (like doing biceps curls on a stability ball) in order to make the most out of your time spent at the gym.
2. Flex Early, Flex Often
When you strength-train, you’re not building muscle—you’re breaking it down. Contrary to popular belief, the building-back-up part happens over the next 48 hours, mostly while you sleep. Contracting (a.k.a. flexing) your muscles right after a weight-lifting set continues to break down the fibers, even if only slightly. And the more you break them down, the more they’ll build back up. In other words, boosting your ego can boost your results!
3. Eat After Exercise
After you’ve depleted your energy, especially after you exercise, it’s important to refuel. Your body is desperate to replace the stored energy it just used and it will pull from wherever it can. Ideally, you want the energy to come from your stored fat, but your body may also pull from the calorie-burning muscle. By eating a mix of protein and carbohydrates after you train (thus the protein shake!), you can prevent your body from turning on its muscle, since it looks to your stomach first for fuel.
4. Focus on Improvement, Not on Pounds
Rather than fixating on how many calories you’ve burned or how much weight you’ve lost, focus on how much of a certain task you’ve accomplished and how much more you should do next time you hit the gym. Steadily increasing speed (cardio) or weight (strength training) in increments contributes to improved strength and energy, and consequently, more muscle and better workouts in the future. Focus on improving your exercise stats (reps, workout time, weight lifted, etc.), rather than the number on the scale.