How To Make Your Workout More Effective, However You Choose To Train

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July 9, 2019

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From improved sleep to a better mood, the advantages of working out regularly are hard to pass up. 

When done right, being healthy can benefit you in all aspects of your life, which might get you thinking: what makes for a truly effective workout?  

There’s a lot of information available about heart rate zones, fitness gadgets and programs that promise results, but you don’t need to be an expert to achieve your goals. 

In fact, you can get started with the right gear and enough space!  

Best tips to make any workout more effective

Remember to warm up

A good warm-up prepares your body for your workout and reduces your risk of injury.  

Warm up with cardio or dynamic stretches to increase your range of motion and get the blood flowing to your muscles. All Sweat programs also offer optional in-app warm up routines you can follow.

Make strength training part of your routine

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), doing strength training two to three times a week can help enhance your aerobic routine by challenging your muscles through resistance.  

Strength training can improve bone health and help increase your strength so you can perform daily activities more easily. It can also help reduce your risk of injury.  

Strength exercises can still be effective if you’re just using your bodyweight. Push-ups, step-ups, pull-ups, squats, planks and lunges can all be performed anywhere, including at the end of your morning run or walk.  

Include more carbs in your pre-workout snack

Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for most workouts. A 2017 study by the Queensland University of Technology, found consuming carbs (like a banana or smoothie) before and after high-intensity exercise may improve endurance, minimise any exercise-related immune disturbances, and help you recover faster.  

Head Trainer Kayla Itsines recommends healthy snacks like apple slices with peanut butter or eggs on toast before a workout. If your pre-workout meal is close to your workout, keep the snack small to avoid feeling ill.  

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Stay hydrated

Your muscles are made up of more than 70% water which is why hydration is so important — before, during AND after your workout.  

If you’re someone who forgets to drink throughout the day, carrying a water bottle can remind you to drink regularly. Don’t enjoy water? Try infusing it using fresh fruit or find a herbal tea you like! 

Prioritise sleep

When you get a good night’s sleep, not only will you feel more energised and alert, but your body has more time to repair and recover.  

Train with a friend

Exercising with friends can keep your workouts fun and help you stay accountable.

If your friends aren't into fitness, you could join a gym to be around other people or see if there are any running or walking groups in your area.

You can also turn to the Sweat Community for connection and support and remember, your workout buddy doesn’t even need to live in the same city as you! Sometimes words of encouragement can be enough to motivate you.

Consider your macros

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), protein is an important macronutrient for anyone who exercises regularly, helping improve recovery and promote muscle mass. 

Protein powder can be a good way to get more protein in your diet (especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan), but most people should get enough by consuming high-protein foods.  

Carbs are important for energy, and healthy fats are another energy-boosting macronutrient that increases vitamin and mineral absorption, and the Mayo Clinic recommends consuming unsaturated fats like avocado, olive oil and nuts.  

Listen to your body and rest when you need it

Knowing when to rest or modify an exercise is just as important as pushing yourself during your workout. Including rest days and active recovery in your routine can help you avoid overtraining or injury. 

Make exercise a priority and be consistent

You don’t have to do a 45-minute daily workout to make exercise part of your routine. If you’re short on time, commit to a quick workout. Consistency is key and when you make showing up a habit, you’ll find it easier to avoid excuses.

Consistency will help you make progress. Take lifting weights, for example. You might start with lighter weights and as your strength improves you can progress to lifting heavier.

In a 2019 systematic review and literature analysis by the University of New South Wales, researchers found women aged between 18-50 who did two to four workouts per week saw an average 3.3% increase in lean mass, 25% increase in upper body strength and 27% increase in lower body strength over an average period of 15 weeks — regardless of how they trained.  

Play motivating music

The perfect workout playlist can be a great motivator. If you’re working out with Sweat, you can use Apple Music and Spotify to stream your favourite tunes or find the trainers’ own curated playlists for every training style.

Wear comfortable clothing

There’s nothing worse than bike shorts that ride up on your daily run, or having sore feet afterwards.

Your workout clothes should reflect your training — clothes that allow you to move freely are best for yoga, or if it’s HIIT, you’ll benefit from a sports bra that provides support.

The same goes for your shoes — you might need more grip for cross-training, extra support for running, and a flatter, sturdier sole for weight lifting.

Pay attention to your cycle

If you feel fatigued during your period, exercising might be the last thing on your mind, and that’s okay. But if you feel up to it, you can continue to train during your period.

It pays to be aware of the different stages of your cycle and how your period may impact your training and energy levels. Be easy on yourself and remember to listen to your body.

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Cardio workout tips

Use these tips to get the most out of every session and break down any barriers getting in your way.  

Make it low-impact

If the thought of box jumps and burpees is enough to make you roll up your mat and head home, the good news is cardio doesn’t have to cause havoc on your joints.  

A low-impact workout can be just as effective! Training styles like barre can still be high-intensity, while cycling and swimming are also great low-impact cardio options.  

Sweat Programs including Low Impact with Kayla, Low Impact Strength with Kelsey, Low Impact HIIT with Samantha and Barre with Britany are the perfect place to start as they’re suited to all fitness levels.  

Build your fitness with low-intensity cardio

If you’re a beginner or returning to exercise, low-intensity cardio can help you build your fitness.  

Moving your body at a steady and sustained pace can also improve circulation and bring your heart rate back down after a tough workout, making it an equally good form of active recovery.  

Low-intensity cardio can include anything from walking, swimming or cycling and as your fitness improves, you can challenge yourself by slightly picking up your speed or adding an incline — remembering you should be able to hold a conversation at the steady pace you’ve chosen.  

Take your workout outdoors

Walking is one of the most common forms of cardio and a great way to get moving outdoors — who can resist a long beach walk on a warm summer morning?  

An outdoor walk is good for you in more ways than one, with a 2013 review by the University of Essex finding exercising in a natural environment led to greater feelings of revitalisation and positive engagement.  

According to researchers, it only takes five minutes of outdoor exercise to impact your mood and provide an immediate psychological health benefit. Experience these benefits today with simple changes to your routine like cycling to work or scheduling a lunchtime walk.  

Grab a skipping rope

If you want a fast workout that packs a punch, dust off your jump rope. Skipping is affordable, portable and has many benefits. You can jump rope at home, in the gym or while you’re on holiday — all you need is some space and a flat surface. 

A simple session might include skipping for 30 seconds, followed by 10 bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, crunches, mountain climbers and planks. Rinse and repeat until you reach a 10-20 minute workout. 

If you’re new to skipping, getting your coordination right can be tricky, so practice with air skips and progress to the rope when your confidence improves. 

Include interval training

Level up your cardio by introducing interval training, or HIIT. This involves alternating periods of high and low-intensity exercise, which allows you to work at maximum effort for much longer than if you tried to maintain the same pace for an extended period. It’ll get your heart rate up in a short amount of time so you can spend more time on other activities you love!  

You can apply interval training to any form of exercise, including running, elliptical, rowing, cycling, swimming and even walking. If you’re outdoors, choose a route with stairs or a hill climb. This adds intensity without having to think about it.  

Remember to cool down

Allowing 5-10 minutes for stretching is crucial after any workout, but especially after a high-intensity session. Cooling down helps your heart rate return to normal and can help prevent injury.

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Strength training tips

One thing you might not know about strength training is you don’t even need equipment to get started!  

Start at home

If you aren’t ready to join a gym or prefer exercising at home, you can get started with strength training using basic equipment or your bodyweight.  

Some handy items to include in your home gym kit include an adjustable barbell and dumbbells. If you don’t have any equipment, substitute these for household items like bottles of water or a heavy backpack.  

Sweat Programs Bodyweight Strength with Anissia and High Intensity Zero Equipment with Kayla can help you start building your strength with no equipment, or you can try PWR at Home, High Intensity with Kayla or LIFTING at Home to get started with a few key pieces of equipment.  

Master your form

When lifting weights, it’s important to get your form right to make sure you are engaging the correct muscles at the right time. This will help reduce injury risk, too! To maximise your lifts, focus on lowering the weight in a controlled manner — this is called “eccentric training”. You’ll find negative-style exercises in Kelsey Wells’ PWR program.   

Use 1RM and RPE to select the right weight

When choosing the right weights you should be able to get through the allocated reps while feeling challenged towards the end of each set.

If your weights aren’t heavy enough you might be sabotaging your results, and if they’re too heavy, you could compromise your technique and put yourself at risk of injury.

Working towards your one-rep max (1RM) and learning how to use your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) can help you find the weight that’s suitable for your experience level.

It’s a myth that lifting weights will make you bulky, so don’t be afraid to lift heavier when you feel ready and you’ll soon discover a stronger and more confident version of yourself!

Do cardio after lifting weights

The Sweat Trainers don’t recommend doing multiple tough workouts in one day, but if you are doing some low-intensity cardio on the same day, it’s best to complete your strength session first to ensure you have enough energy.

You don’t want to feel fatigued when lifting weights or aiming for a PB, so keep this in mind when planning your week.

Exhale while you're working the hardest

Use breathing techniques to enhance your workouts. When it comes to strength training, breathe out as you work against the resistance, or the hardest part of the movement, and inhale as you return to the starting position. 

Breathing mindfully can help you increase core engagement, and provide you with greater stability for the lift. Controlled breathing also helps more oxygen to get to your muscles and low, deep breaths may help promote good posture and form.  

Increase your strength with supersets

A superset contains two dedicated exercises that focus on specific areas of the body, usually opposing muscle groups, to build strength.  

A superset might 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 within a timeframe, or do a number of laps of each exercise with a 30-second pause between rounds.  

Kelsey’s PWR and Low Impact Strength programs take this approach while supersets also feature in Strength & Cardio with Marilyn and Chontel’s FIERCE program.

Push past a plateau with variable resistance

If you reach a workout plateau, or find it difficult to increase your weights, try adding variable resistance such as resistance bands.

This can vary the resistance through areas of a lift where your muscles are working in their optimal range.  

Over time this technique can help you gain strength and help you work towards lifting heavier weights.  

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Yoga tips

Whether you’re doing Yin yoga or Vinyasa, these tips can make your time on the mat more effective.  

Choose a style that suits your needs

When deciding on a style of yoga, consider the health benefits and what you want to achieve — it might be to strengthen your back, improve posture, stretch out tight joints and muscles or relieve stress.  

Being aware of the different styles of yoga can help you choose the right practice to support your goals. 

Get a quality yoga mat

A yoga mat can provide grip as you flow through your practice, allowing you to perform postures without slipping. There are a range of thicknesses and materials available, depending on your preference. 

Find comfort within discomfort

During your practice, finding comfort in the discomfort can help you tune into your body and strengthen the connection with your mind.

You might find some poses uncomfortable, but this can be a good sign and help remind you of the intention of your practice. For example, if flexibility is your goal, think of it as motivation to help you push through any stiffness you might experience. Your discomfort might also signal for you to check your form and focus on your breath — slow, deep breaths can help you sink deeper into each pose.

As with any exercise, there’s a difference between discomfort and pain! If you begin to feel pain, slowly ease out of the position.

Learn cues to avoid interrupting your flow

There’s no doubt your first time on the mat can be overwhelming — between coordinating a complex series of poses to learning the Sanskrit names, there’s a lot to take in as a yoga beginner.  

To help make your practice as seamless as possible, take the time to familiarise yourself with common poses and terminology used by your instructor.  

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High-intensity workout tips

High-intensity sessions are tough but when done right they can leave you feeling fierce.  

Your workout doesn't have to be long to be effective

Because HIIT gives you more bang for your buck, you won’t need to spend as much time doing it. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week — half the recommended time for moderate-level activity. 

The nature of HIIT means two to three workouts each week is enough for you to keep seeing results and there are a range of high-intensity programs on Sweat you can get started with today!  

You're more capable than you think

Exercises like box jumps might seem intimidating if you haven’t tried them before, but you can master them!  

You might feel discouraged trying high-intensity movements for the first time, but as your strength and fitness improve, you’ll soon find you can do exercises you couldn’t do before.

As a beginner, you might need to modify more intense exercises to start off with, but the key to progressing is to keep challenging yourself with harder variations.

Going back to the box jump example, start by trying step-ups on a box, tuck jumps or jump squats to help you get used to these types of explosive movements and build strength and power in your lower body.

Once you’ve been practicing for a while, try jumping onto a low box and gradually increase the height. You’ll be surprised by how strong you really are!

Mix it up with different training styles

A fitness plateau can happen when your body gets used to your training and mixing up your workouts can help you keep progressing.

The great thing about high-intensity training is there are so many styles you can try including AMRAP, Tabata and EMOM, and you can find most of them in Sweat programs like FIERCE, HIIT with Monica and Cass’ High Intensity Strength.  

Throw some weights in the mix

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 heart-pumping HIRT workout and increase the intensity.  

Use your heart rate zone or the sing/talk test

If you’re wondering whether you’re pushing yourself during your workout, your heart rate might hold the answer. Using your maximum heart rate, you can determine how hard you should be working at different intervals during a HIIT workout (you might have heard about the “red zone” for all-out effort.).  

But working out with heart rate zones can be tricky and it isn’t for everyone — especially if you don’t have a heart rate monitor or fitness tracker to help you.  

Another common way you can gauge your effort is using the sing/talk test. During a high-intensity workout or interval training work periods when your heart rate should be in the high and maximum zones, you should find it extremely difficult to talk.  

Make recovery periods active

Your recovery or rest periods don’t always need to be passive and incorporating active recovery can be a great way to push yourself out of your comfort zone.  

Holding a plank, squat or doing a boxer’s shuffle on the spot instead of completely resting can help you test your limits and keep your heart rate elevated the whole time.  

Don't do HIIT on consecutive days

While you might love the endorphin rush you get from a HIIT workout, it’s important to allow your body enough time to recover between sessions. If you want to commit to a consistent routine, try incorporating strength workouts or low-intensity cardio on alternating days and target different muscle groups to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness.  

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Barre tips

Love to feel the burn with barre? Try these tips to get the most out of your classes.

Have a chair handy

You can get started with barre workouts from home and use a chair or other flat surface in place of your barre. It’s also a great idea to have a yoga mat, a resistance band and some light weights ready to go.

Don't forget to stretch

Those small movements can be deceiving and the barre burn (and shake!) is definitely real. Make sure you stretch after class to ensure you’re not out of action the next day.

Pilates tips

Be patient

Pilates is definitely one of those training styles that looks easier than it is. Take the time to learn the basics and concentrate on your form, rather than trying to rush through the movements. Pilates is all about control!

Make modifications if you need to

In a Pilates class you’ll perform a series of simple, repetitive exercises and find yourself focusing on smaller movements. If you’re a bit older or a beginner, make modifications to suit you so you can get the most out of each class.

Choose a program that suits your goals

There are two programs with Sara Colquhon available in the Sweat app, Pilates with Sara and her Core & Body Connection Challenge.

Pilates with Sara will help you to build core strength, improve full-body muscle definition, create better posture, increase flexibility and create a greater connection between your mind and your movement.

If you have a beginner to intermediate fitness level and want a full-body Pilates challenge that focuses on core strength, try Sara’s Core & Body Connection Challenge.

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At-home workout tips 

Prefer to train at home? Try these tips to maximise your workouts.  

Create a dedicated workout space

Your home gym may simply be the small space behind the couch where you can lay out a towel or mat, or you may have some other equipment or a spare room dedicated to exercise! Whatever you have available, make the most of it! 

Before starting your workout, prepare a water bottle and set up your space so that once you get started, you’ll have minimal distractions and can move smoothly from one exercise to the next.

Target different muscle groups

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, or train different muscle groups each day. Including a variety of exercises keeps your body guessing and maximise your results!

Familiarise yourself with substitute exercises when you don't have the right 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 try no-equipment workouts using just your bodyweight and a small space, or substitute household items.

If you’re 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.

Think about your surroundings

If you live in an apartment, you’ll want to keep the noise down so you don’t upset your neighbours. Use a mat to dampen the sound of your movements, invest in a good pair of wireless headphones and choose your home gym equipment wisely.

Eliminate distractions

If you don’t have a dedicated space to work out at home, make sure you eliminate all the distractions in the room before you get started. This could mean turning the TV off if you’re in the lounge room or removing items that might get in your way. 


While getting sweaty is a normal part of any workout, you’ll want to make sure your workout space is well ventilated and the right temperature before you begin. If you’re working out at a high intensity, turn the fan on or open the window so you don’t find yourself overheating!

Gym workout tips

Can't say no to a sweaty session in the gym? Try these tips.  

Train with a variety of weights

Gym machines are great for safety AND there is such a variety of exercises you can do! They're also an easy way to track your strength improvements as you increase the weight.

Free weights such as dumbbells and barbells are fantastic too - alongside building your strength they can also help you to build stability and recruit multiple large muscle groups at once.  

Log your weights

Write down your 1RM, or personal best, for each exercise, and aim to improve these numbers. The best way you can get results in the gym is by focusing on progressively challenging yourself.  

Be mindful of your current ability and strength when determining an appropriate weight for each exercise — your rate of perceived exertion is a good guide to use to determine where to start and when to increase your weights. If you work out with Sweat, you can use our in-app weight tracking feature to stay on top of your progress with each exercise.  

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. Knowing what other gym-goers are talking about or what different terms mean in your Sweat program will help to give you greater confidence to smash your workouts.

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 you are lifting safely.  

The Sweat app comes with instructions and demonstrational videos for each exercise to help you with your form. These can help you to feel safe and more confident with your lifts!

Work out anywhere, anytime with Sweat

Ready for your first workout?

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!  

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A more empowered you starts with Sweat, and our editorial team is here to bring you the latest fitness tips, trainer recommendations, wellbeing news, nutritional advice, nourishing recipes and free workouts.

* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.


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