5 Simple Tips to Make the Most of Your Gym Workouts

According to an Olympic gold medal winner

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Getting stuck into the same old gym routine is easy to do. Many of us go through our workouts on autopilot – doing the same old exercises on the same old machinery, time and time again.

However, sticking to the same routine can not only leave your fitness regime feeling hugely monotonous  - it also means you don't see the same great results you would if you took steps to vary things up a little.

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After all, if you're not challenging yourself or working different muscle groups, it's hard to make gains.

Knowing how to introduce new moves and machines into your workout can be tricky though, so we enlisted the help of Olympic gold medalist, rower Helen Glover MBE, to give us her top tips…

Hit the rowing machine

'Compared to other cardio machines, the rowing machine works a huge amount of muscles across your body. It's always hard work, even as a professional rower – but that's because it's really challenging your body.

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'Using the correct technique is important here: most of the movement should be in your legs. Starting at the front of the machine, push off with your legs and don't pull with your arms until the very end of the stroke. Also, keep thinking about holding in those stomach muscles, as a strong core will stop you from damaging your back. Just tightening up your technique can lead to huge gains on this machine.' 

Don't be afraid of weights

'A lot of women are worried that weights will make them 'bulk up'. I lift several times a week and because I do it alongside cardio, I definitely don't have huge, bulging muscles!

'A good place to start is simply using your bodyweight – for example trying press-ups (you can start on your knees!) or squats and lunges, which are brilliant for toning up your legs and bum.

'Once you're strong enough you can then move on to using dumbells or trying a squat with a bar across your back. Remember not to lift anything too heavy – how you lift is much more important than how much you lift.

'I know it can be intimidating sometimes going into the weights section of the gym when it's full of grunting men – I'm an Olympic athlete and even I feel like that occasionally (although if any guy gives me a funny look I make sure I lift more than him!) Just remember that you have allotted this time to training, you're here for a purpose, and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.'

Strengthen that core

'My top exercise to strengthen up your core is definitely a simple plank – balance on your elbows and toes and then see how long you can hold it, starting off at 20 seconds and then working up. If you're training with a friend, get them to twist and tap your waist during this exercise; it means you not just static, but you're resisting where they're prodding you!'

Re-energise with nutrition

'Obviously for me, recovery is really important, and I can't spend lots of time on the move between training sessions (I train every day, up to three times a day). However, most people have work, food shopping, visiting friends and lots of other things to get on with, so I would recommend using nutrition as a way to recover from your workouts quickly.

'When you've finished your session, make sure you consume something rich in protein as soon as possible. Doing so will help your metabolism stay high so will help you see even more gains from your exercise regime.'

Use music for motivation

'A huge motivation for me is knowing that my competition will be training at a world-class level every day; I'm training for the Olympics so I simply can't afford to miss a session.

'However, another thing I recommend is having a really great playlist – one that takes you from feeling like you want to stay in bed all morning to thinking 'Yes, I want to be outside sweating right now!' Music is really powerful in lifting your mood.'

Via Good Housekeeping

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