You’re going to the gym four times a week; you’re eating healthy and getting a good night sleep. In short, you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do, but are you getting the maximum benefits? Many people go to the gym and do their exercises not realizing their hands are in the wrong place or they aren’t doing it for long enough. Here are some tips to help make sure you aren’t doing all that work and not achieving the results you want.

Posture: It is absolutely necessary to have correct posture while exercising. If you’re running on the treadmill, doing Pilates or Zumba or crunches and push-ups, good posture will help you burn calories, help avoid injuring yourself and lead to less muscle pain. Bad posture will stop you from actually burning any calories at all, so if you’ve been doing only half sit-ups or slouching while running on the treadmill, all that effort just went down the drain.

Stretch: You’ve probably heard this one before ─ stretching is absolutely critical to maximizing your workout. Stretching for both anaerobic and aerobic exercises helps assist in muscle recovery after a workout. A good stretch also keeps you a lot less sore the next morning.

Consistency: If you go to the fitness club and work-out for 30 minutes one day, then for 45 minutes the next day and only 20 minutes the day after ─ you’re doing yourself more harm than good. You don’t have to do the same exercises each day. But staying on a consistent schedule helps regulate your body and can help with your overall goal of burning calories.

Drink Water: Water is absolutely necessary to lose weight, stay hydrated, and give you energy. Dehydration makes you move slower, makes your body less efficient and could even lead to much more serious problems. Do yourself a favor and always keep a filled water bottle handy.

So ends Part One on maximizing your workout. Stay tuned for Part Two!