Are you doing enough and following the right steps in your workout or competition to improve your results? What do you do during your workout to make it as effective as possible? The efficacy of your workout will be directly proportional to your ability to have intense, quality contractions during the allotted session. Every minute you spend in the gym or during your exercise is critical. Follow these five foolproof intra-workout principles to skyrocket the efficacy of your workouts. To better prepare for your workout see 5 Pre-Workout Tips to Maximize Efficacy
1. Have a Strategic Plan.
This should go without saying but unfortunately many go to the gym and just jump from machine to machine or follow what other people around them are doing without any rhyme or reason. What is your goal for this particular workout? Are you looking to just burn calories, target a specific muscle group or groups or just fill a certain amount of time with whatever exercises feel good or machines are open? Do you have a plan for periodizing your workouts or are you doing the same routine and exercises you have done for the past 2-3 years? Is there a specific sequence, tempo, cadence or set and rep scheme that you should follow to optimize results? When you have specific objectives and a written out plan to follow you will be more focused and ahead of 95% of your gym going peers. Is what you are doing now and have been doing for the last few months or years giving you the results you want? Have you noticed a steady increase in strength and/or change in body appearance and composition as a result of all your hard work? If not, something is not right. With the right strategy and plan in place you will soon be a machine of improvement in every way. You have matured beyond just “going to the gym” and expect and see results frequently because of your intelligent and strategic plan. To really accelerate your results try my new primer programs for free: (depending on your goal). 6 Week Fat Loss Program 6 Week Muscle Building Program
2. Master Muscle Mindfulness and the Internal Stimulus.
Perhaps one of the most important skills to master on the road to achieve your dream body is learning how to control your body and create a deliberate internal stimulus. It’s very easy to get caught up on what’s going on outside your body. How much weight is on the bar. The weight going up and down. But all that stuff is only part of an external stimulus. Why do we lift a weight? Well we don’t lift a weight to lift a weight. We lift a weight to create an internal response. Weights are tools and can assist us in creating an internal stimulus. If body transformation is your goal, when it comes down to it weight is really irrelevant. It is the connection of the muscle(s) with the nervous system and the brain that creates a response that leads to a cascade of adaptation and hormonal changes which is where the sweet spot of growth and change is. Learning to lose attachment to what’s happening outside the body and focusing on the muscle contraction will help to spark massive new growth. Closing your eyes, tuning out the noise around you with headphones or working out at off hours or by yourself are all some practical tips I have found to better make the mind muscle connection and what is going on internally the focus rather than what is going on externally (the weight, the machine, the movement of the bar, the people looking on at the gym etc.) More specifics about this in a future post. Try our Free 6 Week Muscle Building Program
3. Measure Your Progress Every Time.
One of the more simple and practical tips that I see most of the fitness community ignoring is failing to track and record their progress each and every workout session they have. Unless you make a record of your performance in the gym it is really impossible to track progress. Progressive Overload in some way is the name of the game to stimulate body tissue adaptation. How can you know you are progressing in one way or another unless you keep a record of it? The best way to do this is to keep a workout journal. This should include not only what exercises were done with what weights in what order for what specific number of reps but the rest time between sets and the overall workout time. Several great ways to stimulate overload other than weight are increasing volume and density which are both a function of rest periods. Record your rest periods and try to decrease them every time even as you increase the weight. Even if you are purely training for strength rest periods should be monitored. When you first do this you will be amazed how much time you waste walking or loafing around the gym between sets or exercises. Particularly if your goal is body transformation in some form manipulating rest periods is the easiest and often most effective way to stimulate overload without having to heave around super heavy weights and risk injury as well as cause significant CNS fatigue.
4. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable.
With attempts to make any change in your life you will encounter resistance. Your body and mind are perfectly content to stay the way they are now and will often fight against you initially when you place it in an uncomfortable position. Those who really become self-improvement machines are those who get comfortable being uncomfortable. If you become too settled or comfortable in a routine it is time to change it. In order for your body to really change it has to be challenged with a new type of stimulus often. This will often put you in a position of extreme discomfort and uneasiness. For me I am often literally scared before some workouts, particularly leg workouts, because I know the amount of focus and pain required to provide an adequate growth stimulus. This is always really more of a mental game than it is a physical one. Embrace the unknown, welcome the uneasiness, chase the pain. This attitude forged through challenging and pushing your body to its limits and beyond frequently will build a feeling of self-certainty and confidence that will spill over into every other aspect of your life.
5. Optimize Intra-Workout Nutrition.
It is important to know principles of proper intra-workout nutrition depending on what your specific goals are. If your goal(s) are mainly strength or hypertrophy you should ensure you have adequate circulating glucose to maximize muscle contraction and hyperemia (muscle pump) which may require consuming intra-workout simple carbohydrates. This may be a carbohydrate beverage or I will often use candy which serves the same purpose. The idea is to ensure plenty of circulating glucose but not spike insulin too much. If your objective is more fat loss you still may require additional carbohydrates to buffer the lactic acid build up of more metabolic style training but you should aim to really only consume when you absolutely need it. This will ensure a massive post-workout growth hormone response. The only reason to consume any intra-workout calories is to allow you to have enough in the tank to sustain hard, intense contractions throughout the workout if your glycogen stores are not sufficient. Just as before the workout, during the workout hydration is critical. Water is a perfectly suitable option for most workouts that last under an hour and are done in a relatively cool environment. But for longer activities, or workouts done in hot, humid climates a beverage with added electrolytes will be needed to maintain electrolyte balance.
For insights on how to gain muscle with any workout, click this link to get your free printout. 10 Ways to Gain Muscle on any Program
For principles of how to lose weight on any diet, click this link to get your free printout. 10 Ways to Lose Fat on Any Diet