5 Fitness Gym Hacks

By Tom Shade  

Athletes and fitness enthusiasts are always looking for a leg up when it comes to maximizing their time spent in the gym. Sometimes it just takes experience to learn the ins and outs of the gym, but in this case allow me to impart some knowledge.

Here are the 5 Fitness Gym Hacks:

Bring a Water Source With You
Hydration is one of the most overlooked wellness measures in our culture. Our lives are so busy and full of distraction that stopping to take a sip of water can easily be forgotten. Training yourself to drink water consistently throughout the day is a tough enough habit to adopt. Forcing yourself to drink water periodically while at the gym is a good place to start.

When you go to the gym, bring a water bottle with you. Don't leave it with your coat or keys, take it around with you to each workout station you go to, this will help you to remember to drink. I recommend taking a sip or two between every workout. An even better way to force yourself to drink is to buy a nice water bottle from the store. If it is a nice bottle that you paid money for you will be much more likely to remember to take it with you wherever you go. For extra performance, fill your bottle with a BCAA powder mix for an intra-workout boost to your muscular performance.

Wear One Extra Layer
Whether you're going for a detox workout or just trying to burn more calories, wear an extra layer of gym clothes than you would normally. Wearing an extra layer, like a sweatshirt top, sweatpants, long sleeve shirt, or a hat, can increase your body temperature while you workout. This can help you sweat more in the gym and burn more calories. If you're working out after a weekend of drinking or eating and want to clean up your system, sweating it out with an extra layer can be the best way to get your body feeling good again. Psychologically sweating more at the gym can be good too, you will feel that you worked much harder while you were there.

Superset your Exercises
If you have two exercises on your list that you can do on the same machine or bench it can sometimes be best to superset these exercises so that you save time and increase the intensity of your workout. When you do a superset, you combine two different exercises that you do in succession. For example, if you were to superset bench press and pushups you would do your reps on the bench press, then right after get down on the floor and do 10 pushups. The benefits of supersets are great, you increase the intensity and effectiveness of your muscles, so your body learns to work harder and grow stronger, and it can actually save time and increase the efficiency of your work outs. If you did an entire workout of 6 different supersets, you could do 12 different exercises in about the same time it would take you to do 6. This is a great technique for those days when you have limited time in the gym, but you still want to get as good a workout as possible, just do a couple of supersets and in 30 minutes you'll feel like you just worked out for an hour.

Give Your Workouts a Title
Planning out your workout before you get to the gym has its obvious benefits. Instead of getting to the gym and staring at the equipment for five minutes before you decide what you want to do, having a plan means you can walk in and immediately start hitting the weights. Well, here's an even more simple hack to add to your workout plan, name your workout. "Get Big Day," "Weekend Detox," or "Hump Day" are just simple examples of the titles you can give. What a title does when you put it at the top of your workout plan is it gives you a purpose to your workout. When we go to the gym with a purpose or goal in mind we tend to work the hardest, get the best results, and enjoy our workout the most. It's simple psychology but something I'm sure most of us don't already apply, when workouts begin to become monotonous and ordinary is when we tend to lose interest. Next time you write a workout, throw a title at the top of your list and see how it changes your habits.

Break Your Routines
Routines are great. They get us into the gym, help us figure out what to do when we are there, and generally make our lives easier. However, over time routines can cause stagnation in personal improvement both inside of the gym and outside of the gym. In the gym, repeatedly doing the same exercise routines every week can result in reduced muscle adaptation and growth in as little time as five weeks of repetition. Having routines in your lifestyle that you carry on for months at a time can also result in similar effects for your psychological and physiological health. Overcome routines and muscle growth stagnation by simply recognizing when you've been doing the same types of workouts or exercises for a while, and change it. For life routines, changing the route you take to work or the time you go to bed can have a great impact on the path of your day.

9 Playground Workout Ideas

By Md. Arshad Ali  

Sometimes the gym can get monotonous and difficult to squeeze into your hectic day but nearly everyone has access to a park and accompanying playground if you take a look around. Even if you're a regular in the gym, stepping outside can give you some refreshing variety to your routine and help mix things up a bit!

Most people don't think to look to a park playground as an alternative to the gym but it really can provide a good workout if utilised correctly. If your primary goal is simply to keep in shape or tone your physique then this is definitely one for you! If your main aim is to increase muscle mass then, unfortunately, the reality is you will need to get signed up to a local gym to get the kind of weights and apparatus you require to hit each muscle group effectively for growth. However, you could still find some tips to help your cardio sessions and hit the below routine at a higher intensity!

So let's get started!
First things first it goes without saying you should get warmed up before starting. Unless you're lucky enough to have a park right next to you then you can usually build this into your journey by taking a gentle jog. Alternatively, if the park is driving distance then depending on the park size a couple of laps round first will do the trick.

When warming up, it's important to mix in some dynamic movements to make sure the muscles are primed and ready for action. If you've ever been part of a sports team this kind of warm up should be familiar to you, mix in some side steps, high knees, bum flicks and short sprint bursts towards the end (5-10 metres).

Once you're feeling nice and warm head over to the playground to get started. A point to note is that this is a workout most suited to early morning or later evening, there's no point in rocking up in the middle of the day and expecting children to make way for you to complete your routine, let's not forget this is a playground first and foremost!

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Park Bench Press up
Despite its main purpose being for sitting on, remember a park bench is fundamentally the same as a gym bench, minus the ability to change the elevation and the back board of course! The best thing about a park bench is that it can be utilised for both incline and decline pushups to work your upper and lower chest by using either the backboard to perform press-ups or the main bench to rest your feet on and perform decline press ups on the ground. Depending on your experience in the push-up an area you can even rest your feet on the backboard to add varied elevation to your decline.

Bench Tricep Dips
Whilst at the bench and an exercise that perfectly compliments a chest exercise due to the indirect use of the muscle is triceps dips. Extend your legs holding your upper body up with your hands on the main part of the bench and perform a set of dips to tone up your triceps. Whilst on this muscle you can easily supplement this exercise with a set of close grip push ups on the ground beside the bench if you feel up for it!

Monkey bar or Swing Pull ups
Some playgrounds have both of these on offer but I'm pretty sure all will have a swing available if the monkey bars are not an option. Monkey bars offer an easier option as they are usually lower and more accessible so if you have this on the option I'd suggest you use it. Otherwise, a swing frame can be utilised by wrapping the swings around the top of the frame or sides whilst you perform your set. Just make sure you unwrap them once finished, children don't want to prep their playground equipment to have fun like you do for a workout!

Ladder step up
There is nearly always a piece of playground equipment that requires a ladder to ascend to the top, usually the slide if nothing else is around. Ever thought of using this for a step up routine? It can be easily done by holding on to the rails towards the top then stepping up to the highest step you can and pulling your body up. Perform this once for each leg per repetition. For taller individuals this may mean reaching the top of the ladder but you should still be able to easily achieve the goal of working your upper legs.

Calf Raises
The same ladder used for the above can be easily used to exercise your calf muscles. You need to employ a similar stance to the above by holding the upper part of the frame but instead of standing on the ground use the first to stand on using the front of your foot. Ensure full movement up and down paying attention to strict form and technique to get a good calf workout.


Slide sit ups
Another one that is commonly overlooked and I only thought of when I started employing more urban gym methods is using the slide to perform sit-ups. I commonly used to get frustrated that it was difficult to find a substitute for the elevated sits up benches in the gym... not anymore! Sit at the top of the slide with your feet firmly hooked around the sides of the upper slide frame and you've found the perfect way to really hit those troublesome abs!

Bench Leg Raises
As a core muscle, there really are a few ways to get to work on your abs in the park. Jump back to the bench to employ this nice easy one. Lay back on the bench holding onto the sides with your legs hanging over the edge and perform leg raises. If you have a friend they can even stand on the bench lightly pushing your legs down for you to get a better workout!

Swing assisted mountain climbers
Who needs TRX when you have a swing right there! OK so TRX training is still brilliant in my opinion and I'll cover them in another post however you can easily use swings as a replacement in this instance. Hook your feet over the back of the swing with your arms to hold your body up and work on each side separately bringing it up just past your midsection and return to its original straightened position. Be careful when performing this one as a swing is obviously a lot more bulky than a TRX trainer.

This exercise can be performed anywhere you have a flat surface but is a perfect way to supplement the above by working out your core. Perform a set of normal planks followed by both sides for a duration of 20-30 seconds each depending on your core strength level to finish things off.

So there you go, did you realise a simple playground could be put to such great use last time you passed one! This should give you an idea of just what is available to you and if you want why not take a skipping rope or resistance band with you to add exercises in, be creative! You can literally move your gym from a stuffy indoor environment to the great outdoors and for those of you using time as an excuse for not working out, if you don't want to use the above you'll, at least, have to find a better excuse!


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