You can net the best personal trainer in the land, hit the gym five times a week and do everything else that you just feel is “right” – but you are still being held back in your weight lifting process.
Unfortunately, as countless bodybuilders will testify, rocking up and praying for big muscles just doesn’t cut it anymore (not that it ever did).
Instead, you need to fine-tune your workouts to perfection to start seeing the big results. We’re not talking about doing ‘x’ amounts of supersets or any other huge changes to your program – but more so the smaller alterations that can add up and make a monumental difference to your overall training aspirations.
Here, we’ll take a look at the best five ways you can tinker with your training and get the absolute most out of your body.
It all happens before you set foot in the gym
In the world we live in, it can sometimes be difficult to believe all of the marketing that occurs with bodybuilding products. Unfortunately, we hate to admit – most of it is true. Sure, there are some gimmicks out there, but on the whole you do need that extra help to get the most out of your sessions. On the most part, this extra help is delivered through supplements or just eating correctly.
In fact, it all starts before you even set foot in the gym. You should be looking to fuel your body with all of the appropriate components between 45 and 90 minutes before your session starts via a pre-workout meal. Load it up with carbs and protein, whilst also throwing in a touch of fat. In relation to the latter, make sure the fat really does come in moderation – fat is something which can stunt growth hormone, which has obvious implications.
The 45-90-minute time factor here is crucial. If you rush and give yourself any less time, you’re increasing the chance of digestion problems.
On the subject of pre-workout advice, it’s not all about eating. Hydration is of paramount importance and by glugging enough water beforehand, you’ll be regulating your body’s temperature as well as improving the integrity of your muscles.
(And this includes packing your gym bag)
On the subject of pre-workout tasks, this doesn’t just relate to supplementation. In fact, it can all fizz down to something as simple as packing your gym bag long before you depart.
Particularly if you are someone who works out in the morning, packing in advance is something that can make or break your routine. Fail to do it the night before, and you’re asking for excuses to miss your session the next day. Those extra five minutes in a morning can make the difference, whilst if you are already prepared you are less likely to give up the ghost and give it a miss for the day.
We’re also going to throw a post-workout tip in here. If you have already found the way to prepare your bag for the gym the night before, don’t negate to prepare your clothing for the events afterwards.
Packing the appropriate clothes and products to freshen up with is something that everyone can do – just to keep your life balance in check. If you start to slack with this, you risk the gym “taking over” your routine and in the long-term, this can impact your motivation levels significantly.
Pick a partner
You might not be a people person, but don’t let this deter you with this next tip. Partnering up in the gym is something which can help you immensely – even if you don’t necessarily feel as though you “need” one. It’s one of those pieces of advice that might not sound appealing, but one which you won’t realize the benefits until you actually experience them yourself.
Having someone to work out with can challenge you in a number of ways. Firstly, it helps put an end to missed workouts. Sure, you might be happy to let yourself down on the morning and have that extra hour in bed, but if you have a buddy waiting for you on the gym floor an extra element comes into play.
Then, when you do hit the gym, you can really start to push yourself. You are less likely to go easy on yourself, while the fact that you have a spotter ready to go means that heavy weights are suddenly much more accessible.
If the two of you happen to be of a similar standard it will be to even more benefit – but even if you’re not, the advantages of training with a partner are still strong and can still supercharge your workouts.
Dress to impress
This might be one of the more controversial points we touch on; particularly as some people might go with the logic of “a good workman never blames his tools”. We’re on the other side of the fence though; we think that you should dress to impress and your clothing can make a difference to your overall performance.
Let’s coin a few examples. If you’re about to work on your arms, wearing armless clothing that really shows off those biceps is bound to motivate you. It will make you work harder and you’ll really be able to see those muscles working as you pump the iron.
However, it’s not just about looking good (although again, we’re under the impression that this does help immensely). It’s also about wearing the appropriate clothing to improve your performance. For example, if you are lifting, certain shoes aren’t going to cut it. You might have bought a pair of trainers, which look like sports trainers, but are really designed for running.
They have gel or air filled bases which will be great on the tarmac as you bound along during your cardio workout, but will reduce the force when you are squatting or performing a deadlift.
As such, it pays to invest in your equipment – even if you are an utter beginner.
Track your progress
It doesn’t matter whether you are starting a business or in the middle of a weight training program, logging your progress is paramount. It’s not just about being organized, it’s all about seeing just how you are progressing and making the appropriate changes as necessary.
In all honesty, the factors you track are really going to depend on your personal goals. However, some of the most common ones are the maximum amount you can bench press, deadlift and squat. In other words, the pillar exercises of most weight lifting programs. If you can track this, as well as how many reps you are doing, it soon becomes easy to see how you are progressing over time.
You should also be looking to add various checkpoints to your logging to make sure you renew your goals. Don’t fall into the trap of logging everything, but failing to act – it makes the whole process a pointless exercise.
You should be constantly analyzing and looking to add to your numbers, in a bid to gradually overload your muscles and make those big gains as time progresses.
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