So its that time to hit the gym again….. I always keep a few things in mind before going to the gym as I want to make the most of the trip, especially as I only go once or twice a week (Rest of exercise is done at home or outdoors) Keeping a few simple things in mind will allow you to optimize your time in the gym while getting great results.
1- Like a Freight Train
Hit the gym hard and fast. Get in do your workout and get out, no time wasting talking to people or daydreaming between sets. This will do two things; firstly the more intense your workout is the more feel good muscle building hormones you will relelase, including things like testosterone and growth hormone the release of anabolic hormones drops as your intensity decreases….
Secondly after about 40 minutes of working out your cortisol levels start to increase, your body releases this panic hormone to try and tell you that its time to stop working out, if you workout longer than 40 minutes (intensely) the cortisol will start to put strain on your adrenals and can deplete your immune system as well as inhibit the growth of muscle. So keep your workouts short and sweet….
2- Workout Hungry
This doesn’t mean you should go to the gym lethargic and starving, rather you should feel a light freshness for me this is usually first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon. At both these times I am slightly hungry but have enough energy to go and have an intense workout. You will also find that working out will kill any hunger pangs your having, but not to worry the extra energy you’ll have burnt off working out will give you a healthy appetite for your post workout meal.
The benefit from working out when your light and fresh is that your intensity increases, no more burping up your lunch or breakfast and having a sluggish workout, you will be raring to go!! On top of this your hormonal release again is magnified by working out on an empty stomach.
3- Make the Most of Equipment
By equipment I mean the heavy weights and olympic barbells you will have at your disposal. There is nothing better than starting a workout with some heavy compounds think; Front Squats, Clean and Press, Push Press and Deadlifts…..
I love starting my gym workouts with 5-10 minutes of heavy compound lifts, especially as the time I spend in a gym is limited. These compounds will get your body firing and will induce a huge release of testosterone which will help your whole body grow and more importantly make you feel great. Another great way to make use of gym equipment is to use the Rowing Machine for a warmup and cool down. A great way to use it is to go ALL OUT for 1 minute at the start and finish of your workout. It gets your whole body warmed up allowing you to avoid injury and limber up.
4- Have a Plan
Always go to the gym with a rough idea of what your going to do. This doesn’t mean writing down a log of your exercises or the exact order of your workout. Just know which exercises you plan to do and in what order roughly, have the option to improvise in the gym as you never know how you will feel during the workout (maybe you’ll want to throw in another chest exercise or finish your workout with some arms) for some inspiration on simple effective workouts checkout Craig Ballantyne’s blog.…. Plus a few of my previous posts.….
5- Don’t Hang Around Waiting For Equipment
Never let a busy piece of equipment hinder your gym workout; If you plan to do squats but the squat rack is full grab some dumbbells or another barbell hold it over your head and do some overhead squats instead. Same goes for bench press if its busy jump on a bench and grab some dumbbells instead or do some weighted dips. There is always an alternative exercise you can do instead of hanging around waiting for a piece of equipment to free up.
This improvisation will keep your intensity up and spontaneously allow you to shock your body with new movements. Always keep your body guessing……
6- Know When to Give it a Miss
Sometimes in spite of your best intentions there comes a time when you simply have to say no to the gym and take some extra rest or do a light workout (short run, brisk walk) instead. Overtraining is a very real phenomenon and it can make you tired, grumpy, lethargic and weak. In my experience one of the best ways to tell if you need a day off from training is how you feel when you first wake up; If you wake up feeling lethargic, unmotivated, and just can’t get out of bed thats a sure sign to skip training that day especially weights training as it is very taxing on your nervous system. You should wake up everyday feeling enthusiastic and ready for the day ahead….
If you are getting any overtraining symptoms take it easy, eat a diet high in good fats and try and relax as much as you can and get plenty of sleep….. You may also want to try taking a strong B-Complex vitamin to replenish your body.
7- Keep Good Form
All too often people put stupid amounts of pressure and strain on their lower back and spine by lifting weights that are too heavy in bad form. Always lift explosively on the eccentric and lower slowly on the negative rep but in good form keeping your midsection braced so it supports your spine. Always feel the burn in your muscles that is the sign they are being worked and triggering growth and strength gains. Try to take 1-2 seconds to lift the weight and 2-3 seconds to lower it.
Try to keep your chest up and avoid slouching your back. This is obvious stuff but at the end of the day if you lift like a lurch you will look like lurch…..
8- Don’t Rush to the Kitchen
After an intensive training session your body needs time to wind down and figure out what it needs. Therefore don’t rush into shooting down a gainer shake or protein shake. Rather do some light cardio, go for a walk or play some sports this will allow the blood to start flowing around your body. When you start to feel hungry (for me thats usually 1hr post workout) sit down and start cooking some real foods. Take your time and enjoy it if you can; food taste’s so much better after a hard training session.
As well as this the release of growth hormone is highest for the first hour after you finish lifting weights therefore eating something (especially if its sugary) will dampen this hormonal response. So give your body time to do its work before eating again.
9- Have Consistancy
You need to have some sort of consistancy to your workouts this allows your body to make the adaptations it needs. We need around 4-8 weeks to adapt to a new training programme or exercises. After that you will need to change things up or gains will stop as your body has adapted to the stress you are putting it under.
This could be as simple as making sure you do some weighted Pull-ups and Dips in each gym session, make other things variable but keep some aspects of your training routine so your body can make improvements and your nervous system can adapt to the new movements. This will also allow you to get strong in a few core exercises which is they key to full body growth and achieving an athletic and efficient body.
10- Limit Your Visits
This is something true to me anyway; I find I am much happier when I go tot the gym 2-3 times a week tops and just lift some heavy stuff, do some circuits and get my heart rate up. The rest of the time I use the outdoors as a training playground; whether thats going for some Sprints in the park, a short run or doing some Tabata Kettlebell work out doors or playing a sport its great to get outdoors. The fresh air and sunlight is something the human body needs to function at its best so make sure your getting out and about, doing a good amount of your exercise in the open air.
To put it simply you don’t need a gym membership to be fit, healthy or look good you just need some dedication, enthuisiasm and will to work hard. A good diet also helps a boat load for everything from good health to good body composition, This PDF is great…….