Life hacks can increase your productivity and efficiency in everyday life and in your fitness-focused or sporting lifestyle.
Try any of these 5 life hacks to boost your performance, get greater returns for your training efforts or just make it easier to get to that all-important training session in every day.
Hack #1: Get a gym go-bag
Modern life is hectic and we often miss a gym session due to life or work commitments, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to sneak in a gym session in your busy the day.
To take advantage of an available lunch hour or gap in your workday, always keep a gym go-bag packed and ready in your car.
This bag should be in addition to your normal gym bag so that it never leaves your car and is always available for an impromptu workout session.
A gym go-bag should include:
- Workout gear – shirt, shorts, socks and shoes
- A sweat towel
- A plastic bag (see hack #5)
- An empty water bottle
- Face wipes
- A hanger (to keep your work clothes looking neat and tidy).
Hack #2: Laced for action
Forget what you’ve learnt about tying your shoelaces, it’s wrong! The conventional method is to tie the first knot with the left lace over the right and doing the same for the bow – left lace over right. This creates a weak knot as it is angled diagonally in relation to the ankle.
Ask any structural engineering and they’ll tell you that when the mechanical stress and structural integrity of knot align it’s more likely to come undone – researchers at the University of Berkeley in California have confirmed this in a study.
The best way to lace up for high-intensity training or sport is to tie the right lace over the left one, then cross the left lace over the right loop to tie off the knot.
This creates a strong knot that sits horizontally across the foot, which lies opposite to the directional force of your forward movement.
According to the University of Berkley researchers, strong knots are far less likely to come undone.
Hack #3: Just do something
We all experience instances where the last thing we want to do is hit the gym or head out onto the road for a run. Our minds race looking for reasons to justify a day off and we often give in to this impulse. Most of us will notch this up to a lack of motivation, which results in inaction.
However, this association between motivation and action is wrong. Most people mistakenly believe that motivation must precede action – that before you do something you must first feel motivated to do it.
The fact of the matter is that in most cases action precedes motivation. Best-selling self-help author and blogger Mark Manson advocates an approach to overcoming procrastination he calls the ‘Do Something’ principle.
In a blog post, he explains that “the “Do Something” Principle takes advantage of the fact that action is both the cause of motivation as well as the effect of motivation. And once you take one small, simple action, there’s a momentum that builds inside you, making the rest easier.”
His advice is “if you want to do something — anything — then you just start with the simplest component of that task.”
Hack #4: Odd breathing for strong running
Running is great exercise, but anyone who doesn’t run often will know the devastating effects of a side stitch. It’s also a common complaint among seasoned runners that one side of their body experiences more cramps, stitches or even injuries than the other.
There may be a simple reason for this. Most people breathe using an even number pattern – breathing out on every second, fourth or sixth footfall (this is normally on the left foot for most runners).
The problem with this pattern is that you always breathe out when landing on the same leg.
When you exhale you lose the core stabilisation effect that lungs filled with air exert on your torso. When this happens other muscles like your hip flexors and TFL need to perform more of the stabilisation work. This can lead to cramping, and the constant ‘collapsing’ that happens can fatigue that side of the body quicker.
The fix? Breathe using an odd number footfall pattern – 3, 5 or 7 steps – to land on alternate feet while running. This ensures the impact and stress are more evenly distributed across both sides of your body and reduces movement asymmetries.
Hack #5: Freshen up
Keep a bar of scented soap in your gym bag to keep it smelling fresh(ish). And to keep the dampness that creates a breeding ground for bacteria at bay, keep a plastic bag inside your gym bag. Use the plastic bag to place your sweaty clothes and socks inside so that the sweat and moisture don’t get transferred to your gym bag. This way you’ll reduce your chances of a bacterial infection or smelly gym clothes.