It’s truly remarkable how so many people actually find the time and are motivated enough to go to the gym, and yet they have so little to show for it. Most often, you’ll see them just wondering around the gym, exerting no effort whatsoever, nor having any plan as to what they want to achieve in a given workout. There’s at least one of them in every gym.
Usually you’ll see them doing a couple of sets of biceps curls and then they’ll start looking around, wondering what their next exercise should be, maybe some additional sets of curls, a few crunches here and there, or if they’re feeling especially “motivated” that day, they may try some military presses. Then, when a friend enters the gym, it’s like it’s all they ever waited for and spend the next half an hour chatting.
And before you know it, 45 minutes fly by, and they head home, because they read in the magazine that 45-minutes are more than enough to stimulate muscle growth. In their dreams.
You should always strive to get as much benefit as possible from all your workouts. If you already took the time and have enough motivation to go to the gym, you shouldn’t be wasting a minute of your time. There are several things you can do to make sure that you get the most out of every workout session that you do. Give these 6 tips a try and we guarantee that you’ll see big improvements in your overall training performance.
1. Always plan your training sessions ahead
When we say “plan your training”, it doesn’t mean just planning to go. It means you need to know the exact muscle group you’re going to train that day, the exercises you’ll be doing for that muscle group, the number of sets for each exercise, as well as the number of reps for each set. This will ensure maximum focus on the training ahead and the things you need to achieve in order to progress, whether it’s increased weight, reps, or shorter rest intervals.
2. Eat a proper meal before training
Strive to eat smaller portions 45-60 minutes before working out. Complex carbs and some fast digesting protein are the best choice for pre-workout meals because they’re digested quickly and provide the long-term energy needed for the workout ahead. The best complex carb options are oatmeal, whole grains, bagels, apples, bananas and many others. As for protein you can choose between whey, egg whites or some chicken.
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3. Keep a training journal
You need to keep a log of everything you did in the gym. You can log the number of reps or the weight you lifted. If you don’t log these things, you won’t know what you need to do for your next workout in order to progress. Should you add reps, should you increase the weight? You’ll be clueless. Besides, you won’t have the sense of achievement that comes with knowing that you’re stronger than your previous workout.
Little by little it’ll start adding up and before you know it, you’ll look back on your logbook with pride at how strong you’ve become. Plus, the log helps you determine which muscle group needs to be stimulated more if you’re reaching plateaus on certain exercises and need to change them. There’s no need for anything fancy. Even a simple pen and paper would suffice.
4. Time your training sessions
Strive to finish your workouts in less than an hour, preferably around 45 minutes. If you can finish your workout within this time frame, that means you’re not resting too much between sets, thus keeping your heart rate high, which in turn means you’re burning more calories. If you can do between 15-20 sets in less than an hour, that means you’re training at a good pace.
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5. Drink lots of water while training
Strive to drink about 8 ounces every 15-20 minutes. Keep the water in a container that’s easy to store so that you can take it anywhere with you and it won’t interrupt your training.
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6. Drink a whey protein shake with some carbs or eat some healthy snack right after training
Supposedly you’ve started doing all of the above and improved your workouts dramatically, all the benefits can be greatly diminished if you don’t feed your muscles after an intense training session. All your time and effort would be in vain. The first post-workout meal should be mostly protein and carbs with a low amount of fat.
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Protein shakes are a convenient way of getting these nutrients if you’re unable or don’t have the time to cook a meal. A liquid meal is also better than a whole food meal in that it is digested faster. Whey protein is your best choice for your post-workout meal since it’s digested the fastest by your body. You can mix it up with some low-fat milk and add some frozen fruit to make it delicious and refreshing. Fruit has fiber in it which keeps you feeling full longer.