workout program

How to Get More from Your Workouts

Congratulations on your progress so far in Lark DPP! Now that you are making a commitment to your health and weight loss, don’t you want to get the most out of your efforts? There are some ways you can get more from your workouts without putting in any more time or effort. Are you in?


The Prep

Get ready for your workout by scheduling it into your busy calendar so you can set aside the time. Plan what you will do for your workout and take any necessary steps to make sure you are ready. Do you need to sign up for the class so it’s not full? Do you need to phone a friend to remind her to meet you? 

Then, get your clothing, shoes, and any necessary equipment, such as a tennis racket and balls or a reflective cycling vest, ready. Set it out the day before your workout to avoid last-minute scrambling and last-minute excuses. Do you need to download any music to listen to while exercising?

Be sure to hydrate all day before your workout, or down some water first thing if you are exercising early in the morning. Eat a light pre-workout snack an hour or two before your workout, or have a light meal about three hours before.


The Warm-Up

The warm-up gradually gets you ready for the higher-intensity workout so you can avoid injury and other health risks. Walking and stationary cycling and, if you are doing a swimming workout, slow swimming, can be good warm-ups. Start slowly and by the end of 5 to 10 minutes, you should be going at about the intensity of your workout. Have a bit of water and then you are ready to go!


The Workout

During your workout, try to focus on the workout and being in the moment. Stop texting and put your phone away if you can - at least, unless you are using it for music, for talking to a workout buddy, or for watching a workout video that you are following.

During your workout, have a water bottle handy and aim to drink about 16 to 32 ounces of water. Most people rarely need sports drinks unless they are doing intense exercise, such as running hard, for over 90 minutes.


The Cool-Down

When you are finished, take another 5 to 10 minutes to do the opposite of your warm-up. Start out at the intensity you finished your workout at, and gradually slow down until your breathing is slower. Then stretch your major muscle groups to reduce injury risk, and breathe deeply. Praise yourself for the workout and feel proud so you can let that great feeling of accomplishment motivate you the next time.


The Recovery

You are not quite finished yet, but this is the fun part! Recover properly so you’re ready to come back again the next day. Hydrate again with water, and have a well-deserved post-workout snack or meal. Try to eat within an hour after finishing to take advantage of the post-workout window when your muscles are best able to refuel. 

Your meal or snack should have mostly carbohydrates and some protein. These are some sample snacks.

  • Half a whole-grain English muffin with peanut butter.

  • Cottage cheese and fruit.

  • String cheese and a slice of whole-wheat bread.

  • Yogurt and oats.

You are working way too hard not to take full advantage, so try these workout tips! You may achieve better results. 


Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Assistant Professor of Public Health

Anatomy of a Workout Program

When it comes to lowering blood sugar, working out works. You may already know that you can greatly lower your risk for type 2 diabetes if you are physically active, especially if you achieve at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity. 

It sounds so simple if you translate those 150 minutes into walking for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, but things can get more confusing as you learn more. What is a workout, and should you increase the intensity, and is it good or bad to do resistance training? Take heart: it is not as complicated as it seems, and the following information can help you make sense of it all.


A Workout from Start to Finish

The idea of doing a formal “workout” may be daunting if you are a beginner, but it does not have to be. A workout is just the time that you dedicate specifically to exercise. It can be a 10-minute walk or a 30-minute bike ride, for example, but you can also make it a little more structured. These are the components of a workout.

  • Warm-up, ideally 5 10 minutes.

  • Main workout, often 10 to 30 minutes.

  • Cool-down, usually 5 to 10 minutes.

  • Stretching, about 30 seconds per each major muscle.

There are a few benefits to this type of structure. 

  • It lowers injury risk by allowing your muscles to loosen before you work them hard.

  • It speeds up recovery by letting your breathing and heart rate slow gradually.

  • It helps you get ready for the next workout by giving you a more pleasant experience to remember.

  • It helps make your workout longer without much more mental effort or physical strain.

When you warm up, start very slowly and gradually increase the intensity. By the end of your warm-up, you should be working nearly as hard as you plan to work at the start of your main workout.

Be sure to target your warm-up specifically to the workout you are doing. Incorporate motions that are similar to those you will be doing in your main workout. For example, include arm swings if you will be playing tennis, and get in some deep knee bends if you are planning to hit the rowing machine.

Your cool-down can be the opposite of your warm-up, starting out higher intensity and finishing up very slowly. Once your heart rate is down and your breathing is back to normal, you can safely stretch your muscles for injury prevention, and do some deep breathing to relax and recharge.


Main Workout

So what is this “main workout” that comes between your warm-up and cool-down? Basically, it is whatever you planned for. It can be a basketball scrimmage, a tennis match, or a hike. It can be a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout or a zumba class. It is the meat of your exercise routine.


Intense Benefits with Intense Activity

You may have seen in the Lark check-in that you can get benefits when you do as little as four minutes a day of vigorous-intensity activity. That is true, but there are some things you should know. 

  • Four minutes of vigorous-intensity activity is better than nothing.

  • More is better.

  • You can get plenty of benefits when you sprinkle a total of four intense minutes into your overall workout. For example, you can do 8 repetitions of 30 seconds hard, separated by 1 to 2 minutes of lower-intensity activity, for a total of 4 minutes of high-intensity activity.


Support Your Workout Habit

There are simple things you can do all day to feel better and increase motivation for your physical activity. These actions can give you better workout results along with more weight loss and improved health to boot.

  • Drink water all day, especially before and after workouts, and including small sips throughout your workout.

  • Eat a small snack or meal within an hour after your workout to speed recovery. Include a bit of protein and some carbohydrates.

  • Make sleep a priority by allowing enough time each night and establishing a relaxing bedtime routine to help you sleep.

Physical activity can get you far in your journey towards health, and making a few small changes to your workout routine can get you even further. Use Lark DPP to its fullest by logging your activity and checking in often for coaching, and you may be pleasantly surprised at your progress.


Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Assistant Professor of Public Health