Just like many challenges in life, fitness and health is all about persistence and changing your approach to reach your goal. If you fail the first time, try again! Here are 10 “habit hacks” that you can modify and implement quickly that may help you break through any plateaus you are experiencing.
1. Be aware of how carbs affect you.
You may be familiar with the no-carb diet, however this may not be the best option for you. Your carb consumption should be decided based on how you personally digest carbs, how much you exercise and your current body-fat level. This is a huge topic in itself, but some quick tips are to consume more carbs if you are working out consistently at very high levels of intensity or are an athlete. If you are working out less consistently or at a low intensity, try to keep your carb intake lower. When you eat carbs note how different ones affect your body. For example, some people experience digestion problems while eating potatoes and can avoid this by switching over to white rice.
2. Place more emphasis on sleeping.
The power of sleep is unbelievable. There is a reason elite athletes and bodybuilders sleep more than the average 8 hours a day. Sleep and long naps is key to muscle recovery, weight loss, and proper hormone production. It also should be noted that the quality of your sleep counts. Try to read a book before sleeping and dimming your lights 2 hours prior to sleeping. If you can cut out electronics, that will also help you get high quality sleep. This is one of the more challenging habit hacks to implement considering most us have our phone by our bedside at night, but your body will thank you for it. If you are having trouble with this, try charging your phone away from your bed at night.
3. Follow a training program.
Rather than going into the gym and just hitting muscle groups that you feel need training, follow a plan that consistently maps out how and when you will train each body part. Rotating between different muscle groups in a well-thought out fashion will help you build muscle and avoid neglecting muscles.
4. Eat high-quality food.
You are what you eat. If you can cut out processed foods and replace them with healthy alternatives (eg: fruits and vegetables), your body will have an easier time digesting your food. Additionally, try to buy high-quality cuts of meat. If you can afford organic, this also helps.
5. Do dynamic stretching before exercises.
As your weight lifting abilities increase it is very easy to become injury prone and also lose your range of motion. Traditional stretching may help with both of these, but adding in dynamic stretching by performing the exercise without any weights will help you to keep that range of motions. Do a “warm-up set” before you bench press or do any other workout. While you perform the set, note your range of motion. If you feel that when you add on weights, you are losing this range, then you should try to decrease wight and focus on keeping the range of motion consistent with your warm up set’s.
6. Go for 3 walks a day.
Sure, walking may not be the most intense workout, but there are tons of benefits are numerous. Walking is often overlooked, but it helps with digestion, burns calories and is good for heart health. Try to do ten-minute walks three times a day. If you are not capable of high intensity cardio, this is a great way to supplement.
7. Add cardio into your routine.
Intense cardio and HIIT will change the way your body transforms as you train. Not only will you burn calories during the exercise, your metabolism is boosted considerably for hours after working out. If you want to burn fat and maintain muscle, this is a must-have for your routine.
8. Train your back.
Many people skip back training especially if appearance is the person’s goal. However, a weak back will severely limit your ability to see progress on your other muscles. For example, back plays a role in your core development and your chest development. If you ignore it, you will not see as much progress in either of these areas. Out of all the habit hacks, this is a very easy one to implement. All you have to do is find a program that exercises your back consistently.
9. Increase your salt consumption.
Sodium plays a key role in your gym performance, especially when it comes to endurance. If you are feeling like you are maxed out at the gym, try to up your consumption of iodized salt rather than carbs.
10. Have a healthy drink after exercising.
After a long workout, your body needs fuel to replenish energy. Rather than going with protein, try this. Pour an orange juice and add in dextrose, 600mg sodium, and 100mg of caffeine. This will help with liver activation and glycogen levels, helping you to quickly re-energize after a long workout.
Remember, for any of these habit hacks to give you the most benefit, you will need to add them onto a solid lifestyle of eating healthy and exercising regularly. If you have a healthy lifestyle in place, these habit hacks will help you maximize your potential!