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How to Workout Smarter Not Harder?

A successful training session requires you to workout smarter not harder!

We all have different reasons to exercise: some want to get fit and stronger, others want to lose weight, and some want mental and physical stability. As a matter of fact, being physically active releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good, boosting your self-esteem and allowing you to concentrate, sleep better, and feel better [1]. Additionally, engaging in an activity that you enjoy can help you find a sense of purpose while also allowing you to meet new people and take a break from daily life. 

However, people often give up when they don’t see the expected results right away. This could be because they were exercising incorrectly.

Keep reading, we’ll let you know how to workout smarter, not harder. 

1- Eat the Right Foods at the Right Time

Fueling up your body is essential to reach any fitness goal. To reap the benefits of your hard work, you must eat well before and after your workouts. You can fuel your body and provide yourself with the energy you need before a workout by eating the right foods at the right times. You can also help your body repair and recover by eating the right foods after a workout [2].

Include higher-fibre carbohydrate foods in your meals because they are your main source of energy. The more you exercise, the more carbohydrates you will need [3]: 

Your diet should also include protein for the growth and repair of your muscles such as nuts and chickpeas, healthy and unsaturated fats found in olives, and dairy as it is rich in calcium and protein which are good for bone health [3]. 

What to Eat Before a Workout?

If you’re exercising for more than an hour, it is recommended that you eat something 1 hour to 30 minutes before your workout to meet your body’s pre-exercise needs. Active people should eat the right nutrients that will help them to sustain energy, boost performance, hydrate, preserve muscle mass, and speed recovery during this time [2]. 

If you’re working out within 3 hours or more, a whole grain bread sandwich with a lean protein (one that’s low in fat and calories) [4] and a side salad could be a good choice. An egg omelet with whole grain toast topped with avocado spread and a cup of fruits is another option.

If you’re training within 2 hours, try a protein smoothie made with milk, protein powder, banana, and mixed berries. Another option is a whole grain cereal bowl with milk, or a natural almond butter and fruit preserve sandwich on wholegrain bread.

If your exercise begins within an hour, you wouldn’t want to eat heavy foods. Greek yogurt and fruit, a protein-rich nutrition bar, or a piece of fruit are three excellent light options you could grab on your way to your session [5].

What to Eat After a Workout?

It’s important to eat a balanced meal soon after the workout (within an hour) to recover and refuel if you haven’t eaten in a few hours. A recovery meal or snack within an hour of finishing the exercise is also a good idea after a long session [3].

The main goal of your post-workout meal is to provide your body with the nutrients it needs for adequate recovery and to maximize the benefits of your gym session. Choosing foods that are easily digested promotes faster nutrient absorption.

Some quick and easy post-workout meals are tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread, rice crackers and peanut butter

2- Change Up Your Workout Routine

Exercising the same muscles every day may cause some to develop more than others. To balance out your overall muscle development, it is critical to vary your workouts. Muscle imbalance can result in compensation, muscle strain, or injury. So vary your workouts to make them more enjoyable, well-rounded, and less repetitive [6].

Additionally, if you hit that “you’d rather snooze your alarm than go to the gym” phase, changing things up a bit will get you excited about exercise again.

Try adding some weightlifting to build muscle mass. In fact, it is not necessary to spend your entire day in the gym in order to build muscle. During your weekly workouts, try to target all of your major muscle groups at least twice [7]. Daily Swiss ball stretches or weekly yoga sessions may help improve your mobility, balance, and flexibility, so we recommend incorporating them into your workout as well [8].

workout routine scaled 1

By mixing up your activities, you allow your overworked muscles, joints, and ligaments to rest and recover before putting them back into action. If you do get injured, switching to a different activity that does not strain the same part of your body will allow you to stay in shape while also healing [9]. 

Sauna and hammams may be beneficial to recover after your workout. According to some studies, being exposed to high temperatures causes blood vessels to dilate, which improves circulation and lowers blood pressure. The steam from the sauna helps to relax your muscles because it can counteract the lactic acid build-up around them, soothing them back to their relaxed state [10].

3- Make Your Workouts Harder Not Longer 

Workouts that are harder force the body to change, lose fat, and gain muscle. They typically include weight training rather than cardio, and they burn significantly more calories. The less time you have, the harder you have to get it done. Many high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, in fact, are based on this “less is more” philosophy. They urge your body to hustle harder for a short period of time before repeating the same circuit several times with a minute break in between [11]. 

Also, harder workouts typically include weight training rather than cardio, and they burn significantly more calories not only during the workout but also afterward [12].

All in all, harder workouts provide several benefits because they allow you to continue burning fat and building muscle even after you’ve left the gym.

4- Make Your Fitness Goals a Part of Your Daily Routine

The compound effect refers to the principle of reaping large rewards from a series of small, wise decisions. You’ll find success in split-second decisions that make no visible difference. However, the compounding effect is profound as you accumulate those habits by starting small and building on them [6].

Here are 4 tips on how to make your fitness goals part of your daily routine: 

  1. Schedule time for physical activity every day, and treat it like any other important appointment.
  2. Gradually increase the intensity or duration of your workouts to challenge yourself and avoid boredom.
  3. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a day or don’t meet your goals – just try to get back on track as soon as possible.
  4. Consider enlisting the help of a friend or a personal trainer to help you stay motivated and on track.


[1] Mental Health Foundation. “Physical Activity and Mental Health.” Www.mentalhealth.org.uk, 19 Aug. 2021, www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/a-z-topics/physical-activity-and-mental-health.

[2] Spear, Craig. “Fuelling Your Fitness: Pre & Post Workout Nutrients.” Momentum Fitness, 19 Apr. 2017, momentumhamont.wpengine.com/pre-post-workout-nutrients/. 

[3] British Heart Foundation. “Food for Fitness.” Bhf.org.uk, British Heart Foundation, 21 Dec. 2021, www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/food-for-fitness

[4] “Top 13 Lean Protein Foods You Should Eat.” Healthline, 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/lean-protein-foods.

[5] Semeco, Arlene. “Pre-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat before a Workout.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 31 May 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/eat-before-workout.

[6] Spear, Craig. “6 Ways to Train Smart Not Hard.” Momentum Fitness, 12 Apr. 2018, getmomentum.ca/train-smart-not-hard/. 

[7] Marcin, Ashley. “What You Should Know about Building Muscle Mass and Tone.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 20 July 2017, www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-it-take-to-build-muscle.

[8] “Relax and Challenge Your Balance and Stability with These Ball Moves.” Verywell Fit, www.verywellfit.com/ball-stretch-for-balance-and-stability-1231451.

[9] “7 Reasons to Switch up Your Workout.” Www.onemedical.com, www.onemedical.com/blog/healthy-living/7-reasons-to-switch-up-your-workout/.‌

[10] “Here’s Exactly How to Help Your Body Recover after an Intense Workout.” Byrdie, www.byrdie.com/workout-recovery.

[11] “Don’t Feel like Working Out? 7 Ways to Trick Yourself into It.” TODAY.com, www.today.com/series/one-small-thing/how-work-out-when-you-don-t-feel-it-t113764

‌[12] Is It Better to Exercise Longer or Harder? | Fitness 19 Gyms. www.fitness19.com/is-it-better-to-exercise-longer-or-harder/