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Top workout tips both in and out of the gym

Drew Harrisberg is an exercise physiologist, Fitbit ambassador and diabetes educator with a balanced approach towards exercise, nutrition and mindfulness. Since Drew's diagnosis of type 1 diabetes at the age of 23, Drew has been dedicated to the goal of personal health and happiness both for himself and his client.

What are your top workout tips inside the gym?

Go in with a plan: simply showing up to the gym is not good enough unless you're happy with mediocre results. Having a plan is paramount, but in order to plan properly, you need to know your goals. Whether it's strength, endurance, fat loss, or fitness, you need to train with a specific goal in mind. You should have a clear vision of what muscle groups you're exercising, the intensity of the session, reps, sets and rest periods. If you're serious about getting results and leaving the gym with a sense of accomplishment, you need to have a clear and concise methodology to follow. It's also important to keep track of your workouts and results. I use my Fitbit's heart rate feature to track the intensity of my workouts.

Change it up: change is key for growth, adaptation and improvement, so doing the exact same workout every time you enter the gym is not going to get you the best results. Variety, specificity and progressive overload are key training principles that you need to implement if you want to continuously improve. Consider changing up the number of reps, sets, pace, exercise selection and the order you perform each exercise.

Top workout tips outside the gym?

Don't underestimate the importance of healthy lifestyle factors that contribute towards a productive workout, as well as an efficient recovery after your workout.

Sleep: aim for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep in total darkness and also have a consistent bed time and wake time. You can use a wearable device like a Fitbit to track your sleep quality and quantity.

Stress: there are many ways to manage your stress levels, but one that I love to use is a simple breathing technique that helps stimulate your parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system. Inhale a large breath through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds. Repeat 8 times. If you find this difficult, Fitbit has a built in guided breathing app which can assist you straight from your wrist and help you get a relaxing moment!

Nutrition: eat real whole food and match your carbohydrate intake to your activity levels. 

Sunlight: getting outside first thing in the morning when the sun is out will help to set a healthy circadian rhythm, which will improve your sleep as well as many other vital biological processes. Also, getting some sun intermittently throughout the day will help synthesise vitamin D - a vital "hormone" if you want to thrive.  

Why are these tips so important and necessary, in your opinion?

Health is holistic, meaning there are so many key factors that contribute towards being healthy. You need a daily dose of all of them to really thrive. Try and think of your health and fitness as a daily 24-hour endeavour. Despite the buzz it gets in the media, a 10-minute HIIT session per day is not enough to maintain optimal health. It is better than doing nothing and it's great if you're time-poor; however, you should focus on moving as much as possible and avoid sitting for long periods of time. Your workout makes up a tiny portion of your day, but what you do for the rest of the day is where the rewards manifest.

If one finds it hard to implement these tips, for whatever reason, what can they do instead?

You can engage with an exercise physiologist who is trained and qualified in prescribing safe and effective exercise. Conversely, commit to taking a small positive step every day and avoid thinking about the bigger outcome. Start with achieving small goals and one day you'll look back and be shocked at how far you've come.

Can such tips be incorporated by anyone, in any job? Or are they catered to a specific audience

Absolutely anyone can incorporate these tips. You just need to get into the right frame of mind and have an able body! If you do have trouble getting started, a wearable device like a Fitbit might be the motivation and accountability you need to get the ball rolling. If you keep persevering, eventually a healthy lifestyle will become second nature.

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