If you’re one of the countless people who uses exercise to improve your general health and well-being, you may be interested in seeing what you can do to get even more out of your workout. While it’s true that even relatively unplanned exercise can still improve your health, planning out your workout in a conscientious way will allow you to get the most out of each workout. While the list below is not an exhaustive one, it offers a few suggestions for making your workout as effective as possible.

1. Reevaluate Your Programming

Whether you’re training for a marathon or working to build muscle, an intelligently-designed exercise program often makes the difference between reaching your goals and falling short. In order to improve – whether that improvement comes in the form of more speed on the bike, in the form of adding an inch to your biceps, or something else – you need to overload your body and then allow your body to adapt to that overload.

This is why that one guy at your gym who has been lifting for five years still looks the same. If your programming stays consistently the same, with no added challenges, then you won’t improve. If you aren’t sure how to best plan for reaching your goals, countless resources are available in order to help you determine the ideal workout plan for you.

dwayne johnson2. Supplement Intelligently

Recommending supplements can be somewhat tricky. Anyone who has paid attention to the fitness industry over recent years has likely seen that the number of available supplements has absolutely exploded. And while some of these supplements are truly useful, many are underdosed and overpriced. Plus, what supplements are useful for you will depend on your chosen sport or discipline and your desired goals. If you are unsure of what supplements to take, find unbiased sources to help you choose which supplements are vital and which are less so.

However, there are some general-use supplements that are useful for virtually any athletic activity. For instance, just about any recreational athlete will benefit from finding the best creatine powder for them. Creatine works by replenishing adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which is the body’s main source of cellular energy. It also may have nootropic benefits. Creatine, because it improves your ability to generate explosive power, is beneficial for cardio and strength activities alike. It is also relatively inexpensive.

3. Don’t Forget About Recovery

All too often, even experienced exercisers are extremely focused through their workouts, but when it comes to recovery, they let things drop. The truth is that ensuring you are adequately recovered is one of the most crucial elements of training. Getting enough sleep is vitally important for muscle recovery, since much of muscle protein synthesis happens during sleep. Even if you aren’t focused on adding muscle, getting enough sleep will ensure that you perform optimally.

Sleep is a major part of recovery, but it isn’t the only thing that matters. A post-workout meal can kickstart the recovery process by giving your muscles what they need to repair themselves and grow. Generally speaking, a good post-workout meal will include a mixture of protein and carbohydrates, but the exact macronutrient ratio you need will depend on your goals as well as on the type and intensity of your workout. It may help to keep a training log where you record what you do post-workout. This can help you determine what works best when it comes to recovery practices.

If you’ve noticed your progress is stagnating, or even if you just want to make sure you’re doing all you can to achieve optimal muscle growth, evaluating every element of your workout routine will help you make necessary changes. When you critically examine your programming, your supplementation, and your post-workout recovery routine, you will be well equipped to make the changes necessary to move toward your goals and look and feel incredible.