So you’ve finally gotten serious about getting your sweat on and really have a goal set to look and feel great. You’ve outlined your workout plan, figured out the best route to your new gym, and even created a killer playlist. Way to go! It sounds like you are well on your way to adopting some important healthy habits, but an effective workout doesn’t end there.

There are several important things you need to know and do that go beyond just showing up at the gym. Follow our 5 best workout tips to maximize your efforts and improve your results.

Know when to eat (or not).

While it’s true that your body needs energy to get you through a tough workout, there are right times and wrong times to eat. Much of the pre-workout food conversation centers on what type of workout you’re going to be doing. If you are running, you’ll want to skip the snack and run on an empty stomach. But if your workout involves lifting or weight training, you’ll need that extra energy boost to push through the whole thing. For most people, about 30 grams of carbohydrates is recommended before a workout, which is roughly the amount you’ll get from a large banana.

Refuel after your workout.

Just like pre-workout fuel is important, post-workout nutrition is just as crucial. In fact, some fitness experts suggest that your pre- and post-workout nutrition are the two most important meals you have each day. So why is it so vital to refuel your body immediately following your workout? Giving your body key nutrients after a sweat sesh helps replenish glycogen levels, decreases the amount of protein breakdown in your body, and increases protein synthesis as well as the ability to build muscle. Just after a weight-training session is when your body utilizes protein at its best, so keep that in mind when you’re choosing post-workout fuel. You’ll want to follow a weight-training regimen with at least 10 to 20 grams of protein, such as an egg-white omelet or Greek yogurt.

Challenge your body.

It is true that a bad workout is better than no workout at all; however, that really only holds true when one or two – not all – of your workouts lack intensity. If you’re just coaxing back to Zumba each week or barely breaking a sweat with your weights, chances are you aren’t going to see the progress you’re looking for. So here are a couple of things to keep in mind…If you are completing more than ten reps with ease, the weight probably isn’t heavy enough. Try varying your reps and increasing the amount you are lifting. Likewise, if you’re not feeling challenged by your cardio routine, consider bumping up your speed and/or resistance. A 150-pound person can boost his or her calorie burn by 25 percent by increasing the speed by 5 to 6 MPH.

Track your progress.

Tracking is one of the single most important steps you can take to improve your health, but that doesn’t mean you have to take a pen and paper with you everywhere you go. Instead invest in a health system that does it all for you, like the iHealth Edge. This fitness monitoring device allows you track each of the important components of your overall wellness regimen and literally fits in your palm, or rather on your wrist. This system does more than just track your steps, though it does that too. In fact, it logs your calories burned, monitors your sleep, and even helps you set and reach your goals. So if you’ve been lacking in the tracking department, then this may be just the options you need to get back on track and star making the progress you want.

Recover the right way.

It comes as a surprise to some, but rest and recovery are just as important a component of your progress as your workout. If you don’t give yourself enough time to recover during sweat sessions, your body will start overproducing cortisol, a stress hormone that boosts fat storage and appetite – a dreadful combination for anyone looking to drop weight and burn fat. That doesn’t mean you have to weight multiple days in between trips to the gym, but it does mean that you should vary your routine so you aren’t targeting the same muscles multiple days in a row. As you create your plan, consider focusing on upper body one day and lower body the next or swap higher intensity workouts for lower intensity workouts to give your body the rest it needs. This tactic gives your muscles the time they need to recover without having to drastically cut back your training schedule.

If you want to get the most out of your workouts and really make progress toward your goals, you need to be working out effectively. Use our health monitoring devices in combination with these tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your gym time and start seeing the gains (or losses) you are looking for.