Somedays we struggle through our workouts, and other days everything just connects, and it feels so accomplishing! Yeah, I did it! Wow what a great work out! Other days, not so much. So how do we prepare ourselves to maximize each workout. There are physical thing we can do, planning, and as well mindset.
1. Pre-workout – Have either a pre-work out meal, or drink prepared. One hour to 45 minutes before. You could have a number of things like, oatmeal (ground in a blender) in a protein shake, perhaps add a few berries, some hardcore types may have sweet potato and chicken or fish. A nice light version is a piece of fruit like an apple and some yogurt. As well today there are many quality pre work drinks that contain carbs, protein, and recovery elements like beta alanine, and BCAA’s. What ever you choose, your work out will be so much better with something, and as well, so will your recovery from the workout.
2. Warm up – You’re short on time, and tempted to jump right into the workout. But cold muscles and joints put you at risk for injury and it means reduced results. “Dynamic stretching prior to a workout increases heat in the muscles,” says Anthony Carey, CEO of Function First, a health club and training studio in San Diego, California. “That decreases stiffness, moves lubricating fluid to the joints and increases the excitability of the nervous system so that muscle contractions become better synchronized.” – See more at: http://www.oxygenmag.com/article/10-tops-for-a-perfect-workout-8508#sthash.tPGoYea6.dpuf
3. Overestimating your strength and Endurance – Building up strength and endurance takes time. Beginners are often too eager, and can be influenced by other people in the gym, and try to fit in. (advanced people sometimes do this as well, sometimes called training with your ego!) You need to take it step by step, start with what you can safely handle in proper form. If you do that each workout you can progress little by little without injury. It will surprise you how quickly you can progress step by step, without injury. Don’t try to start with pro routines, and do too many sets and reps. Make sure you have a trainer or an advanced trainee as coach or mentor, to keep you honest and accountable.
4. Lift weights first then do cardio – Warming up for 5 minutes or less doing easy cardio is fine, thats different. Many people do cardio first as a weight loss strategy, but in reality, you should do cardio after you lift, not before. Lifting is about improving your strength, intensity and overall conditioning. Lifting weights (machines or free weights) is about stimulus to your muscles. (remember more muscle equals more natural fat burning) IFBB Figure Pro Felicia Romero says “If your exhausted from cardio, there is no way you have any strength or the ability to increase any intensity in your workout. On the other hand, if your muscles are fatigued, to do cardio, you can still work hard, elevate your heart rate and burn a ton of calories. Lifting is performance based, conditioning is effort based.”
5. Poor Exercise form – You can see both men and women, even some ” intermediate types” training ever so sloppy. Poor form, too much weight, just slinging the weights around. Its a sure fire way to injure your self. You will rarely ever see a fitness pro train like this. They value every work out, like it is a dollar in the bank. It’s one step closer to your goal. Adjust your intensity to where you can properly do each exercise, and lower the weight until you can handle it properly. A great way is to occasional work with a coach, even a one off session, as a check and balance to make sure your on track. (now thats not an excuse to train like your half asleep either!)
6. Intensity or too Much rest! – While it is true you don’t want to overdo it. Taking too much time between exercises can decrease the training benefits and set you up for injury. You should exercise intensely enough to work up a light sweat, and get your heart rate up. Typically 30-60 seconds between sets. You can go a little longer ( 1-2 minutes) if your going heavy, and doing more sets, an example instead of 3-4 sets of 12, heavy may be 5 sets of 4-6 or 6-8 reps if your strength training pre season for a sport. Usually this is only for a few weeks.
On the other hand if your an advanced trainee, muscle failure might not be as easy to achieve as you’d expect. On occasion when you need to kick it up a notch, some common techniques used are; supersets, tri-sets ( 3 exercises done one after the other with no break – great for fat burning!) Drop sets, and rep techniques like doing a few sets with a heavier weight for 6-8 reps, then immediately after the last set, drop the weight 30% and do max reps. If you do this right, you will only do this once per body part in a work out. It feels rewarding!
7. Plan B – Oh Damn! Plan B, well unless you train in a private gym, always have a plan B. How many times have we all seen gossip queens, or newbies taking up a work area, doing next to nothing, hogging the equipment for an hour. Most of us don’t have that time. While it is best to stick with what your routine is, don’t waste time or loose intensity, always have some alternatives for each body part. Get right on it! Actually, sometimes starting with the exercise you would usually end with or changing the sequence of exercise, can turn your workout into one of your best!
8. Positive Attitude – Life is not always easy, for any of us. Leave your baggage at the locker room. This is your moment, forget about work and everyone else for this little bit of “your time”. Surround yourself with other positive people in your gym, those who are successful, positive and complimentary. I have in certain times changed gyms, just because of the attitudes in a gym. Find yourself a place to train where people are winners. I don’t necessarily mean professionals, or anything like that, as that is up to you what ever level of training your at. But attitude and action will determine you achieving your goals. You can do it!” We all can do it! Believe it, and it will happy. Now put that bag of chips away, and get your butt in the gym and start training! I see you smiling!
9. Water – Hydration is one of the major causes of multiple health issues. Not hydrating during your workout can leave you dragging yourself behind, and getting tired prematurely.Your body requires water to transport nutrients, eliminate waste, regulate body temperature, maintain blood pressure, lubricate joints and tissues, and aid digestion. Not only should you be drinking water all day long, but during your workout, anywhere from 8 to 20 ozs, depending on the intensity and length of your workout.
10. Intra – Post Workout – to continue from the last point, depending on your goals, length of your workout, and other factors, you may want to add supplements to your water, such as fast acting carbs, electrolytes, BCAA’s, endurance or recovery supplements. You can have these pre workout, during (intra) and post work out. For post work out, depending on how soon your next meal is, you could have either fast acting protein like a hydrolyzed whey, or a long acting one that has a blend, with whey and casein. Carbs is optional depending on your goal, and how long before you eat.