Giving it your all during a workout will help put you that much closer to your fitness goal, whether you’re looking to build muscle, improve your health, lose weight, gain skills, or boost your confidence. But sometimes all you’ve got is nothing at all.
Not every workout is going to feel post-this-stuff-on-Instagram level stellar—that’s to be expected. However, there are a few things you can do that require very little effort, but will help add that oomph to your training session. We asked trainers to share their best workout tips for getting in the zone, so you can walk away feeling energized and accomplished after every session.
1. Take a minute to breath before you get started.
The first step to an awesome workout is getting in the right mindset. “Before a workout, I focus on my breathing to reduce any stress from work or my commute that may be sitting with me, giving me negative feelings before hitting the gym,” says Equinox trainer and martial artist Phoenix Carnevale.
2. And intentionally send yourself some ~good vibes~ with positive self-talk.
Once you’re dialed in, remind yourself that you’ve got this. “I start with positive self-talk to prevent myself from giving up or being overly critical,” says Carnevale. ” I tell myself, it’s my time now. Put the to-do list away and focus on the workout.”
Angela Mader, trainer and founder of Fitlosophy, also suggests taking a few minutes before your workout to journal about something you love about your body and what it can accomplish. Maybe it’s that your strong legs are capable of squatting like a boss, or your upper body is getting closer to being able to do a pull-up. Whether you jot it down in an actual journal or just the Notes app on your phone, it’ll start your workout on a grateful, positive note.
3. Listen to songs that will get you pumped up.
Positive self-talk isn’t the only way to get in the right mindset. “It always comes down to music for me,” says Amelia DiDomenico, C.P.T., master trainer at Crunch Gyms. (One of her top workout tips is that she’ll repeat her favorite tracks a few times during her training session.) “Sometimes I watch motivational videos on YouTube that are inspiring and get my mind in the right zone,” she adds.
4. But put your phone on airplane mode.
Avoid distractions by putting your phone on airplane mode, says Carnevale. “It can be super tempting to respond to messages and emails or check social media, but it wastes a lot of time and causes people to lose focus. Be selfish! Your workout is the time where being self-absorbed is a good thing, so focus on you for that hour.”
5. Walk into the gym with a plan.
“A clear plan is your secret weapon—knowing what you’re doing and why is half the battle, so keep your attention on what you’re up to,” says Jared Kaplan, founder of Studio 26. This will help you feel prepared for your workout and on-track, because wandering around aimlessly wastes time. And you actually have to stick to it, he adds. “If you don’t play, you can’t win the game!” Wondering what to do? We’ve got you covered with these effective workout plans.
Carnevale also suggests having a good idea of the gym layout, so you don’t have to spend time searching for kettlebells when it’s time to do some swings. If you’re starting out at a new gym or just haven’t explored much, set aside extra time before one workout to get familiar.
6. Start with foam rolling.
“Foam rolling helps break up ‘knots’ in muscles that can inhibit full mobility,” explains DiDomenico. This is also known as self-myofascial release, because you’re ‘releasing’ tightness and knots in your fascia, or connective tissue.
This is important for improving mobility, and the better your mobility, the better your workout is going to feel (and the better your results will be, too). Improved mobility also means you’ll be able to get deeper into exercises like squats and lunges. By getting deeper, you can make sure you’re using proper form and the right muscle fibers are firing, giving you the progress you’re working for.
7. And don’t allow a crowd to ruin your training plan.
Your program says it’s time for bench rows but the crowded gym says those benches won’t be free for some time. Rather than standing around waiting for one to free up, move on the next part of your workout and come back later. The same goes for cardio equipment. “Stair-climbing machines all busy? Find a flight of stairs or hit the treadmill on an incline,” says Mader. Have a plan, but be flexible.
SELF – Fitness