Ever get home after a workout feeling like you didn’t even do anything in the gym?
Well, that’s probably because you didn’t.
Sure, you lifted some weights and tried all the new exercises from this month’s edition of your favorite fitness magazine.
But the question is, how much of your workout did you actually spend being efficient and doing things that give you results?
Here are 7 simple tips you can put to good use to get the most out of your workouts.
1. Grunt when you lift.
Just kidding. Don’t grunt. At least not out loud. I hate that. And so do other people.
But what I AM trying to say is that you should lift with intensity.
If you don’t look like you’re in any discomfort (keyword “discomfort”, not “pain”), then you’re not working out at all.
Weights feel easy? Go a little heavier.
Not breaking a sweat? Take shorter rest periods.
(Getting off Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat/Twitter while you work out helps, too.)
No matter how they look on paper, you can make ANY workout either a really good one or a really bad one depending on the intensity you’re doing it with.
2. Put on some music.
Studies show that listening to music while you work out improve their effectiveness by 120%.
Listen to trance, heavy metal, or rap music and that number goes up to 200%.
Ok, I just made up those stats.
But listening to music does help you stay focused during your workouts.
Wearing headphones also helps to deter people from talking to you — at least 9 times out of 10 (you’ll always have that one person who’s clueless and talk to you anyway).
Just make sure to make your workout playlist at home so that you don’t waste any time looking for songs to listen to during your workout.
3. Do more compound exercises than isolation stuff.
A majority of your workouts should consist of compound movements that work more than one muscle group at a time.
Any variation of the following movements will do wonders for your body:
- Horizontal/vertical rows
- Horizontal/vertical presses
There’s nothing wrong with isolation exercises like dumbbell bicep curls, tricep extensions, and even glute kickbacks for that booty. But these exercises have their place and should not be the main focus of your workouts.
By prioritizing heavy compound exercises, you’ll see results with your body in much less time.
4. Learn proper form.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to do your exercises with proper form.
The way you do your exercises can significantly affect their efficiency and effectiveness. Two people doing the same exercise with the same exact weight can have different stimulation depending on their form.
More importantly, maintaining proper form with everything you do ensures that your body stays healthy.
Getting hurt is the last thing you want, for obvious reasons.
5. Don’t psych yourself out.
Mental toughness is just as important as physical toughness.
Your strength isn’t defined by how much muscle you have or how much weight you can lift, but by how well you can manage your emotions.
Imagine this. You’re getting ready to do your last set of deadlifts, in which you’re going for a new PR. As you take a step towards the bar, your mind starts messing with you. It starts telling you that you won’t be able to lift it because the weight is too heavy, or you start thinking that you’ll drop the weight halfway through your first rep. The moment these thoughts start to take over, it’s game over. Even before you try, you’ve already failed to lift the weight.
Always have the right mindset.
Stay focused. Visualize what you want out of every set, and don’t let your mind mess with you.
6. Don’t neglect bodyweight exercises.
You should always incorporate bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pull/chin-ups, dips, glute bridges, etc. in your training routine.
These exercises aren’t just for beginners. If these exercises have gotten too easy for you, then simply do other variations that will give you more of a challenge.
For example, if you can do push-ups in your sleep then trying doing decline push-ups. If you can do pull-ups for reps, then try doing archer pull-ups. Bodyweight exercises are all great compound movements that help to build strength like no other.
7. Log your workouts.
I don’t make my online coaching clients do many things.
Instead I have them focus on a small number of objectives that actually get them results. And one of those things is tracking their workouts.
It’s important to keep a log of your workouts so you know what you have to do next time you hit the gym. Whether you’re tracking your workouts with pen & paper or with an app, keeping a log of the things you do ensures that there is some sort of progressive overload going on.
The graph you see above is something that was generated by the app we use for my 1:1 coaching program. As you can see, Liina has been able to achieve a consistent progression on her bench press from January to April. Had she not tracked any of her workouts, she’d probably plateau at a certain point simply by being unaware of the weight she’s lifting.
By logging everything she does, Liina knows exactly what weight she needs to aim for on a regular basis.
Simply put, strive to be stronger and better week in and week out by keeping track of your performance.
BONUS: Do exercises in the right order.
You can’t just put together some exercises and call it a workout.
The nervous system is the primary driver of performance, so it’s crucial that you perform exercises in an order based on neural demands.
Basically, what that means is that exercises that require the most power and are most sensitive to technique must be done first.
My friend and fellow fitness professional, Eric Bach owner of Bach Performance, specializes in athletic performance and explains it as such:
“You shouldn’t do your conditioning before jumping into heavy or explosive weight training. A 400-meter sprint followed by 15 power cleans at 75% 1-RM and 50 box jumps is a bad idea. Exercise order and rest, must match your training goals.
Ignoring this is a recipe for disaster.
Your nervous system will already be fatigued, leading to technical changes in your form and sub-optimal power development. That’s a recipe for staying weak, small, and injured rather developing into a high-performance beast.”
So here’s the order that he recommends:
- Dynamic Warm-Up
- Dynamic/Movement Training (jumps, sprints, throws)
- Explosive/Power (power cleans, snatches)
- Compound Strength (squats, deadlifts, presses, pulls)
- Compound/higher rep/hypertrophy (squats, dead lifts, presses, and pulls)
- Isolation Work (curls, calf raises, leg extensions)
- Conditioning Work
Do you need to have every component above in your training program? Not at all.
But it’s imperative that you keep this exercise order in mind when doing your workouts.
If you train in a way that includes a variation of exercises that include explosive work, strength training, and conditioning, I highly recommend you check out Power Primer 2.0. It’s Eric Bach’s latest resource, and I have to tell you — the information in it is incredible.
Using a blend of science and theory with practical experience, Power Primer 2.0 is designed to give you the ultimate results in the gym: a body that bridges the gap between athletics and aesthetics. You’ll learn how to develop a more powerful, athletic, and leaner body through high-performance training.
If you want to get stronger in the gym, and build a high-performance body that is both show and go, then make sure you check out Power Primer 2.0.
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