Upgrade Your Intensity
You’ve heard of HIIT and probably know the results it can get, but are you doing it right, really? An easy way to track if you are or not is with a simple heart rate monitor. There are tons of them out there (although we just were sent the Nokia Steel HR for a sponsored campaign and it was AWESOME — so simple to use and looks more like a pretty watch than your usual fitness tracker), and they’re a great way to see if you’re truly getting up in that 80-plus percentage range of your maximum heart rate.
Another option is to take a class like Orangetheory Fitness, which actually tracks your heart rate during the class and helps you to get in the right zones.
And, if those options aren’t right for you, don’t discount the rate of perceived exertion! Basically, to truly do HIIT, you need to be working so hard that you can’t say much — and then recover back down so that you can chat before you push hard into another interval again.
No matter how you do it, changing your intensity can be a great way to get results. (And remember, as you get fitter, you’ll likely need to switch things up or make them harder in order to truly challenge yourself.) Oh, and if you always go hard, try slowing it down for other perks.
Upgrade Your Hydration
We love water. We love water with lemon. And lime. And berries. And orange. And pizza (just kidding).
And water is great. But for really sweaty or long workouts or when we just can’t seem to get fully hydrated even though we’re drinking all the water (hello, jet lag), we also really, really dig Liquid I.V.
The name sounds a little clinical, but it’s basically a clean (no preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, gluten, dairy or soy) powdered drink mix with electrolytes. It tastes great (with half the sugar and calories of most sports drinks) and adding one packet to 16 ounces of water has the same effect as drinking two to three glasses of water because you absorb it better. Cool, eh?
Upgrade Your Recovery
In a lot of ways, your next workout is only as good as the recovery from your last workout was. Hydration, sleep, protein and proper nutrition are obviously key to recovering well, but so is the pain that hurts so good: foam rolling. We’ve reviewed tons of foam rollers over the years, but one that we’re currently digging on (or cursing at) is the Sissel Myofascial Roller.
It’s not the most dense foam roller we’ve ever been on, but it definitely digs in to those muscles deeply and we love how ergonomic it is. Plus, notice how it has place for your hands to hold built straight into it. Brilliant!
Upgrade Your Mindset
What thoughts are you thinking before, during and after your workout? What thoughts are you thinking about your body? Your performance? Your life? What thoughts are you thinking about YOU? In order to reach your full potential in and out of the gym, the right mindset is essential.
Upgrade Your Weights
How heavy are you lifting these days? Have you moved past doing modifications of certain moves, like push-ups on your knees? You know how the saying goes: if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you. So get challenged!
That may mean trying strength training for the first time. Or reducing the number of push-ups you can do but doing them all on your toes this time. Or picking up a barbell. Or invest in some awesome strength training gear for your home (here’s our fave stuff!). Or doing a new workout (we recommend this one to go heavy.) Whatever it is, do it for an instant workout upgrade.