Workout Tips & Motivation Secrets From Sweat Trainers
It’s no secret that committing to working out regularly can benefit your body, both physically and mentally. Being healthy may benefit you through improved sleep, mood, energy and so much more.
But how do you know what makes for a truly effective workout?
There’s a lot of information available about heart rate zones, gadgets you can buy and different programs that you can try, but you don’t need to be a fitness expert in order to get results at home or in the gym.
In fact, you can get started with just some comfortable clothing and some space at home!
- Best tips to make any workout more effective
- Cardio workout tips
- Strength training workout tips
- Tips for yoga
- HIIT workout tips
- At-home workout tips
- Gym workout tips
Best tips to make any work out more effective
No matter which type of training you’re doing, these tips will help you to maximise training benefits.
Remember to warm-up
A good warm-up prepares your body for the challenges of working out and can help to reduce the risk of injury. It also mentally prepares you for your workout session, creating a break between your day and the time you’re dedicating to yourself.
Warm up using movement or dynamic stretches to increase your range of motion and get the blood flowing to your muscles.
Include strength training
No matter what your key training goals are, including strength training will help you to reach them sooner. One benefit of resistance training is that it can help to make your body more resilient, reducing the likelihood of experiencing a fitness setback such as injury.
Bodyweight exercises, like push-ups, step-ups, pull-ups, planks or lunges, can be done anywhere — including at the end of a run or walk. If there’s playground equipment or a bench on your route, you can use this for a quick strength session.
Include carbs in a pre-workout snack
Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for most workouts. A 2016 study by the Queensland University of Technology, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, found that consuming some carbohydrate before you exercise can help to minimise any exercise-related immune disturbances and help you to recover from your workout faster.
If you aren’t doing fasted cardio, Sweat trainer Kayla Itsines recommends eating healthy snacks like apple slices with peanut butter, a fruit cup or eggs on toast before a workout. If your pre-workout meal is close to your workout time, keep the snack small so you don’t feel ill during your workout.
Focus on hydration
It’s important to be hydrated to make the most of your workout because your muscles are actually around 70 percent water! Good hydration also helps you to recover faster from a workout.
Carrying a water bottle with you can remind you to take regular sips. If you find it hard to drink plain water, try infusing your water with fresh fruit. You could even make your own kombucha or drink sparkling water as both provide a healthy source of hydration.
Make sleep a priority
Good sleep can help to maximise the benefits of your training. During sleep, your nervous system, muscles and whole body rests and resets. Sleep is important to ensure that you are able to perform at your best in everything you do — from your work to your workouts.
Train with a friend
Exercising with friends is a great way to have fun while training and will also keep you accountable for your training schedule and fitness goals. When you know there’s someone else counting on you to show up for your workout, you are much more likely to go!
If your friends aren't into fitness, then get them to meet you for coffee afterwards. Your workout buddy doesn’t have to do the workout with you every time, there are other ways they can provide you with motivation and support.
Include protein and healthy fats in your meals
According to a 2006 study led by the University of Connecticut and published in the British Journal Of Sports Medicine, protein and fats are important macronutrients for women who do strength training.
When one of your fitness goals is to get stronger, be sure to include regular portions of protein and healthy fats in your meals and snacks throughout the day.
Listen to your body
Knowing when to rest or make a workout easier is just as important as pushing yourself in your training. Remember, it’s consistency that gets results in the long term, not lifting heavier weights or pushing yourself harder on any one given day.
Be mindful of your current level of ability, and include active recovery when you need additional time for your muscles to bounce back from a heavy training session.
Allow time to rest
Rest is so important to your training schedule! A proper rest day can actually help to boost your performance for both cardio and strength training. Taking rest at the right time can help your body’s immune system stay strong and also helps to prevent injury from overtraining.
When you start doing any new form of training, consistency is the key to improvement.
A 2019 systematic review and literature analysis by the University of New South Wales and published in Sports Medicine found that women who did two to four workouts per week saw an average 3.3 percent increase in lean mass, 25 percent increase in upper body strength and 27 percent increase in lower body strength over an average period of 15 weeks — regardless of how they trained.
If you are lifting weights, you might start with a light weight, but with repetition, over time you will progress. If you are a cycling beginner, increase your distance and intensity gradually over time.
Take the time to build a strong foundation and before you know it you’ll start to see positive changes.
Add some motivating workout music
Music is great for motivation during your workout. Find out how to build an awesome workout playlist, and check out our trainers' playlists for inspiration. When you work out with the Sweat app you can use Apple Music and Spotify to stream your favourite workout tunes.
Make exercise a priority — no excuses
Schedule in exercise on a regular basis, and stick to your plan. Stop sweating the details — all you have to do is show up.
You don’t have to do a 45-minute workout every time. You don’t need any equipment. If you are short on time, commit to five quick exercises or an express workout. Make showing up a habit, and over time your excuses will become white noise.
Cardio workout tips
Cardio can be low-impact
Cardio doesn’t have to mean running or doing burpees — low-impact cardio is very beneficial too. Plus, a low-impact workout can still be high-intensity, giving you all the benefits of interval training.
If you need a fast workout that packs a punch, grab a jump rope! You can do this at home or in the gym, anywhere with a bit of space and a flat surface.
A simple jump rope workout for beginners could include skipping for 30 seconds, followed by 10 push-ups, then repeat using different bodyweight exercises like crunches, mountain climbers, planks and so on until you reach a 10-20 minute workout.
Use low-intensity cardio to build endurance
Low-intensity cardio helps to build endurance by increasing glycogen stores — the readily available energy found in the muscles. It also helps to improve circulation and can help with muscle recovery after a tough workout.
Does low-intensity cardio mean walking on a treadmill for half an hour? Definitely not — unless you like to watch Netflix while you walk! Choose a style of cardio that you enjoy most, and don’t be afraid to try something new to help you to stay motivated to exercise.
Enjoy nature while you exercise
Cardio isn’t an activity that you have to do indoors or in the gym. One way to include cardio within your day is to walk. Rather than driving right to your destination, park the car and walk the rest of the way.
According to a 2013 systematic review by the University of Essex, published in Extreme Physiology and Medicine, outdoor exercise in a natural environment causes greater feelings of revitalisation and positive engagement. Outdoor exercise also helps to improve self-esteem and negative moods.
The study found that it only takes five minutes of outdoor exercise to impact mood and provide an immediate psychological health benefit.
Include interval training
Interval training can help to make cardio workouts more challenging. If you haven’t done interval training before, it’s basically where you alternate periods of high intensity and low-intensity exercise. This allows you to work at a higher intensity for much longer than if you tried to do a steady-state workout, burning more calories in less time, meaning more “bang for your buck.''
You can apply interval training to any form of exercise, including running, elliptical, rowing, stair climbing, cycling, swimming and even walking. If you are outdoors, a great way to incorporate interval training is to choose a route with stairs or a hill climb. This adds intensity to your workout without you having to think about it!
Remember to cool down
Allow for 5-10 minutes of stretching after each workout. This helps your heart rate return to normal and can prevent injury. Taking the time to stretch gives you a moment to reflect on the workout you’ve just done.
Strength training workout tips
You can start at home
If you aren’t ready to join a gym, you can get started with strength training at home. With some basic equipment, you can start strength training in your own time and on your own terms.
If you don’t have any equipment yet, you can substitute for household items. You may be able to buy second-hand gym equipment — check out what’s available on the community marketplace in your area. Some great items to start with include an adjustable barbell, dumbbells and a fit ball.
Focus on your form
When lifting weights, all parts of the movement are important. One mistake that people make when lifting weights is focusing on the primary movement, then allowing momentum to drop the weight back into place.
To get the maximum benefit from each movement, lower the weight in a controlled manner. This is called ‘eccentric training’. You’ll find that some of the negative-style exercises in Kelsey Wells’ PWR program in the Sweat app call for you to focus specifically on this part of the movement.
Choose the heaviest weight you can
Choosing the right weight for your workout for maximum results means that you want a weight that challenges you during the final reps, but also allows you to complete all the sets of a given exercise (and the rest of your workout!).
It’s a myth that lifting weights will make you bulk up! For those who haven’t tried strength training before, you’re about to discover one route to becoming stronger and more confident.
Do cardio after your resistance workout
If you plan to lift weights and do cardio on the same day, try to do cardio after your resistance session to get the most out of your strength training workout. The reason behind this is to ensure that you have the maximum amount of energy for your strength work. Doing cardio following weight training may even increase the amount of energy you burn.
Focus on your breath
There are some breathing techniques you can use during any type of movement to enhance the benefits of your workouts.
As you work against the resistance, the hardest part of the movement, breathe out. Then inhale as you return to the starting position, releasing the resistance.
When you exhale, it increases engagement of your core and provides greater stability for the lift. Controlled breathing also helps more oxygen to get to your muscles. Slow, deep breaths also help with good posture and maintaining good form.
A superset contains two dedicated exercises that focus on specific areas of the body. For example, a superset could include 12 reps of bench press followed by 10 reps of a bent-over reverse fly. Complete these exercises as many times as you can with minimal rest in a given time, say seven minutes, or do three rounds of each exercise with a 30-second pause between rounds.
Kelsey Wells’ PWR and Low Impact Strength with Kelsey programs contain supersets in each workout. You’ll also find supersets in Strength & Cardio with Marilyn and some of Chontel’s FIERCE circuit-focused workouts.
Push past a plateau with variable resistance
Using resistance bands, or even chains, you can vary the resistance through areas of the lift where your muscles are working in the optimal range. This will help you to increase strength, without being limited in the range where you are naturally weaker.
Using this technique, over time, will help you to gain strength and work towards increasing the weight used for the exercise.
Tips for yoga
Choose a yoga style that suits your needs
Everyone comes to yoga for a different reason. You might be looking to strengthen your back and improve posture, stretch out tight joints and muscles, or boost your energy levels.
Yoga is also practised as a form of meditation and relaxation and can help improve wellbeing. When deciding what style of yoga to try, think about the health benefits of yoga that you want to experience and choose one or two types that will meet your goals.
Buy a yoga mat
To practice yoga at home, the first thing you should invest in is a non-slip yoga mat. A yoga mat gives you grip during the postures and enables you to practice without slipping and causing injury. There is a range of different thicknesses and yoga mat materials, so it pays to look for something that suits you.
Wear comfortable clothing
When practising yoga, choose clothing that you feel comfortable in and that allows you to move freely. If you’re not sure exactly what to choose, see our tips on how to buy the best yoga pants for ideas on what styles can suit different types of yoga.
For example, the clothing that you choose to wear for yin yoga where you’re moving more slowly might be different to what you would wear to a hot, fast-moving yoga class. The most important thing is that you are comfortable!
Add in some meditation
Adding meditation to your yoga practice helps you to be present in the moment with your mind and body. Meditation and mindfulness can enhance the benefits of calming yoga poses to reduce stress after a tough day.
Connect with your body and mind
While yoga is a valuable tool for dealing with life’s struggles, it can introduce new sensations to your body. You may experience slight discomfort in some poses, but if it moves into pain, slowly ease out of the position.
A great way to make sure that you don’t overdo it is by paying close attention to your breath throughout your practice. If you notice that you are holding your breath, or if your breathing becomes staggered, pull back until your breathing becomes steady again.
HIIT workout tips
You always have time for a workout!
You can still do a workout even if you only have 15 minutes! Sweat includes Express workouts, and even a short walk is so much better than doing nothing. If you are really pressed for time, you can do just a few minutes of exercise to get your heart pumping.
Enjoy a wide variety of exercises
The best thing about HIIT workouts is that you can get creative! There are so many different exercises that you can include, from burpees and mountain climbers to crunches and lunges. This is great because it means that you can do a workout just about anywhere!
Keep your body guessing and keep challenging yourself to get your heart rate up, build strength and improve your cardiovascular fitness all at the same time! If you’re new to HIIT, try this beginner HIIT workout to get started. You’ll find plenty of HIIT workouts that you can do either at home or in the gym in the FIERCE and Low Impact HIIT with Samantha programs in the Sweat app.
Challenge yourself with AMRAP or Tabata workouts
In addition to choosing from a huge selection of different exercises, you can also change your workout style! This means that each workout is different.
AMRAP stands for “as many reps as possible" and it literally means just that — you’ll complete as many reps as you can of each exercise.
Tabata workouts use a form of high-intensity training where you complete 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for a specific number of sets before moving on to the next exercise. There’s so much variety to choose from!
Chontel Duncan’s FIERCE program and Samantha Ortiz-Young's Low Impact HIIT with Samantha program include these high-intensity training styles into a weekly program for you to follow. You can find them both exclusively on the Sweat app.
Mix it up with HIRT
High-intensity training isn’t limited to bodyweight exercises. You can challenge yourself with high-intensity resistance training (HIRT), by simply adding weights (the resistance!) to your workout.
Kettlebell or medicine ball exercises are a great way to create a HIRT workout. This added resistance increases the intensity of your workout — raising your heart rate, engaging your muscles and working you harder!
At-home workout tips
Take your workout outside
During summer you might enjoy changing up your workout routine by using your backyard or heading to a park.
Sweat trainer Kayla Itsines says: “Get creative and make your workout fit around where you want to be and your other activities.
“If you’re meeting friends for a picnic or at the beach, arrive early to allow time for a walk or a quick step workout. There are so many bodyweight exercises in my High Intensity Zero Equipment with Kayla program (formerly BBG Zero Equipment) that you can do anywhere.”
Lay your equipment out before you start
Your home gym may simply be a space where you can lay out a towel or mat, or you may have some other equipment. Before starting your workout, prepare a water bottle and set up your space so that once you get started, you’ll have minimal distractions.
This means you can move smoothly from one exercise to the next, keeping the intensity high.
Include exercises targeting your upper, lower and full body
A highly effective at-home training routine will target ALL areas of your body. You might start with squats and glute bridges, then move to upright rows and bicep curls. Including a variety of exercises keeps your body guessing and maximises the training effect!
Combine cardiovascular and strength exercises
Combining cardio and strength exercises will build your endurance. For example, you could start with burpees to get your heart rate pumping, followed by a round of goblet squats to build strength in your glutes, hamstrings and quads. This training style is very effective for burning fat while building your overall fitness level.
You don’t need fancy equipment
When you’re working out at home, you might not always have the exact piece of equipment recommended for an exercise. Don’t let that get in the way of a great workout!
You can do no-equipment workouts using just your bodyweight and a small space, or substitute household items for equipment to get your workout done.
If you are using home gym equipment, you can always switch a dumbbell for a kettlebell, or use a recovery band if you don’t have a resistance band.
Gym workout tips
Train with free weights
Gym machines are great for building a base strength when you are a fitness beginner — you can gain confidence knowing that the weight is supported by the machine.
However, as you get stronger, switching to free weights can help you to build stability and improve your overall performance.
Log your weights
Write down your 1RM, or personal best, for each exercise, and aim to improve these numbers. The best way that you can get results in the gym is by focusing on progressively challenging yourself.
Be mindful of your current ability and strength when determining a weight that is appropriate for each exercise — your rate of perceived exertion is a good guide to use to determine when to increase your weights.
Know the terminology used at the gym
Take the time to understand a few of the terms used in fitness that you might not have heard of before. This will help to give you confidence — you’ll understand what other gym-users are talking about, and you’ll be more likely to ask for advice from an instructor when you need help.
Learn how to use gym equipment correctly
If you ever feel uncertain about using a specific piece of gym equipment, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. You can ask a gym instructor to check your form and ensure that you are lifting safely.
The Sweat app comes with instructions and videos for each exercise to help you with your form. These can help you to feel safe and more confident with your lifts!
Be proud of your hard work and determination!
When you get caught up in a new workout routine, it’s easy to forget to pause and reflect on how far you’ve come.
Make the time to celebrate — maybe you’ll do something fun with a friend after 30 days of consistently following a workout program, or share a selfie with the Sweat Community to celebrate your achievement!
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.