Are you making the mistake of going through the motions when they hit the gym? Do you just train to train, never getting stronger, faster, or leaner?
Try a new approach: Train to win! Use these ten tips to maximize your workout. The increased effort will pay off: You’ll shed body fat, increase lean muscle, and boost your strength and power.
Tip #1: Avoid Static Stretching Pre-Workout
Static stretching reduces neural drive, particularly of the most powerful type 2 fibers. The negative effect on performance is large: In one study, trained cyclists had a very significant 26 percent decrease in dime to exhaustion with marked lower exercise efficiency after static stretching. This means that stretching not only leads to reduced maximum strength but also degrades endurance performance.
Tip #2: Do A Dynamic Warm-Up
Instead of passive stretching, a dynamic warm-up that primes the muscles and jazzes up the nervous system will elicit peak performance. First priority is to raise body temperature and heart rate with low to moderate intensity activity. Cycling, running, or light lifts for 5 to 7 minutes will do the trick. Follow that with 3 to 4 dynamic coordination exercises such as high knees, butt kicks, or overhead squats.
Tip #3: Stick To The Basic Lifts
Excitement about training may tempt you to use a wide range of exercises from shoulder shrugs to hip thrusts, but there’s no need to go crazy. Learning the biggest bang for your buck multi-joint exercises that train multiple muscle groups at once is the best way to develop base level of strength while simultaneously triggering body composition adaptations. Deadlifts, squats, lunges, presses (overhead and bench), and pulls (chin ups, rows, pull-downs) should make up the majority of your workouts.
Tip #4: Pick A Priority & Train For It
You want it all: Fat loss, strength, speed, and stamina. Having multiple goals is commendable. You’re ambitious and motivated, but it can also dilute your training to the point where efforts are unproductive. The solution is to pick a priority and train for it. For example, if you’re training for a six-pack, your first priority is to lose the fat that’s covering up your abs. Instead of focusing on sit-ups and other isolation lifts for your midsection, you need to train multi-joint lifts that tax the body, use short rest periods and moderately heavy weights.
Tip #5: Count Tempo
Instead of haphazardly lifting weights, when you count tempo, you control the speed at which you raise and lower the weight. This allows for a much more powerful stimulus to the muscle. Typically, you want to use a slower speed (tempo) on the down (eccentric) motion and a faster, more explosive tempo on the up (concentric) motion. For example, you could lower yourself into the squat on a 4-second count and come out of the squat quickly on a 1 second count.. On the other end of the spectrum, explosive exercises like box jumps and Olympic lifts are great for training power and increasing your speed.
Tip #6: Use Full-Range Training As A Base
Many people don’t even realize they are selling themselves short with partial motions. For example, if you just go down a quarter of the way in the squat (sticking your butt out and coming back up), that’s a partial range repetition. Instead, go all the way down in your squats, past parallel until the hamstrings covers the calf (your butt should be below your knees in the bottom position).
#7: Take Creatine
Creatine is a short-term energy source for the muscle. Supplementing with it can improve all forms of athletic performance by increasing cellular activity for greater muscle and connective tissue growth.
#8: Keep Workouts To 60 Minutes
Enter the gym with focus and drive, keeping your workouts to less than one hour. Shorter more frequent workouts will allow you to train with a superior degree of effort and determination for faster progression. This way you avoid the unproductive spike in cortisol that comes from long workouts as your body begins to breakdown muscle tissue to provide energy to keep you going.
#9: Get Extra Protein
Eating extra protein supplies your body with the amino acid building blocks necessary to repair and build muscle tissue. Studies consistently show that when hard training is performed, extra protein in the post-workout period increases strength gains. Shoot for a bare minimum of 1.6 g/kg of protein a day in 25-gram doses.
#10: Do A Cool Down
This is where you get your stretching in! Spending a few minutes allowing your body to relax with easy stretching will allow your nervous system to settle for a faster recovery. Targeting tight muscles with passive stretching can help maintain range of motion around the joint for better mobility and a more effective training stimulus from full range training.