Maintaining a workout routine can be mostly about having the motivation to get up and get out. Even so, you should also have a plan for what you should watch out for while you’re sweating. To get the most of your workout, make sure that you’re monitoring these stats while you exercise.
- Heart rate: You should monitor your heart rate so that you are reaching your cardio goals, such as the right level of intensity in your workouts. It also helps to know what your max heart rate is so that you don’t continuously overwork yourself — you should normally be working out at 60 to 90 percent of your heart rate unless you are sprinting or otherwise doing interval training. If you don’t want to invest in a heart rate monitor, you’ll have to do the math to find out your heart rate manually. Just make sure you’re using the newer formula for determining your maximum heart rate; the old school “220 minus your age” formula isn’t optimized for women. Learn how to calculate your maximum heart rate more accurately.
- Learn to let go: Yoga should never be about mastering certain poses. Try to enjoy the journey, not the destination. Make sure you are doing poses with the correct alignment to the best of your ability, let your body relax, and go with the flow; some of the most difficult postures can be achieved when you allow your muscles relax. Once you stop striving for perfection, you’ll surprise yourself at how bendable you can be.
- Hold that pose: How long you hold a pose often depends on which type of yoga you’re practicing. Typically, poses are held for 20 seconds but can go up to a minute or even longer. To increase the intensity of a pose, try holding it a little longer, going a bit deeper, and reaching further while listening to your body to prevent injury.
- Arrive on time: Being late for a yoga class disrupts the rest of the class and the harmony of your own practice by bringing the stress of being late to your mat. Arrive to class early and do mild stretches to quiet your mind. And don’t skip out on corpse pose (savasana) — it’s the perfect way to end class. Savasana allows your blood flow and circulation to return to normal, which relaxes your entire body.
- Calories burned: You may be exercising for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with weight loss, but even so, knowing how much energy you’re expending while you exercise helps you get a clear view of how much your routine is affecting your health. And if you are trying to drop some pounds, knowing how much you’re burning is probably what you want to know about the most. Invest in a device that tracks how many calories you’re burning during a workout, enter accurate information in the machines at the gym, or check resources online that can give you an estimate of how many calories you’re burning (for example,here’s a chart of how many calories you burn while running).
- Your progress: Remember when you started out your exercise routine? Maybe you wanted to leave halfway through that exercise class, and now you can sweat the whole way through. Or maybe you couldn’t run a mile without stopping but now do a daily five without a second thought. It’s important to keep track of your progress so you have a concrete idea of just how much more fit you are now. Take time to acknowledge (not to mention celebrate!) your accomplishments by keeping a workout journal or using an iPhone app that tracks your workouts.