Over the past decade of training, well actually 13 years now of training to be exact, I’ve found ways to make sure my workouts are effective. I’m not saying I have the best training session I’ve ever had every single time, but I’ve at least figured out how to make sure my time in the gym isn’t wasted. Each of us are genetically unique, so our bodies respond uniquely to various methods. I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 tips for an effective workout, and hopefully through some trial and error with these, you can develop your own method to getting the most out of your workouts. I didn’t rank or organize these in any particular order, but as you go through them, you can probably start to organize and prioritize them for yourself. So here they are – my top 10 tips for an effective workout:
Plan your workout. – I’ve found that when I plan my workouts ahead of time instead of just winging it in the gym, my workouts are not only more intense, I’m also able to focus more on each set and rep without having to think about or figure out what exercise I should do next. If you know anything about the science of mind-muscle connection, then you know how important that focus on each rep really is. It can make all the difference when it comes to transforming your physique. Just going through the motions is better than nothing, but it’s definitely not the most effective route to your desired results. When I plan my workouts ahead of time, I’m also able to put more thought and time into organizing my lifts and incorporating strategic dropsets, pause reps, negatives, supersets, or giant sets to target the muscle most effectively.
Drink plenty of water before you exercise. – Do you ever struggle to get a pump? You took a massive scoop of preworkout powder, or even paired it with a pump product, but still can’t seem to obtain the almighty pump? Chances are that you’re dehydrated. Your body needs water to achieve a pump, so give it what it needs! I drink at least a gallon of water every single day, so it’s easy for me to make sure I’ve drank plenty of water by the time I train in the early afternoons. But even on the days I train in the morning, I make sure I start drinking water first thing so I can be sure to have enough in my system for my training session. Obviously, water isn’t just important to achieve a pump, it’s even more important to make sure we’re hydrated so our bodies can function properly during our training, especially when it comes to endurance training. Proper hydration is vital for endurance and also recovery. If you experience muscle cramps, try to start hydrating more efficiently before, during, and after your training.
Get motivated. – I define motivation as something or someone that causes us to feel energy, and when it comes to working out, using motivation as a source of energy can be extremely effective. On the days I don’t feel like hitting my training session, I watch YouTube videos of other fitness influencers, master trainers, and bodybuilders to get myself motivated and enthused to hit my workout. I’m a huge gym nerd, so I love learning from other fitness experts. I get excited to take what I learned and apply it. It’s such a great way to progress, but also avoid plateaus, because you’re challenging your body with new training methods and forcing it to adapt. Determine what motivates you, feel that energy, and put that energy to work. I wrote an entire blog last week about motivation so you should check that out when you get a chance.
Get plenty of rest. – I feel like rest has been sort of villainized as of late. I’ve seen too many memes about taking rest days when you die, or rest days are for the weak. I get the “tough it out” mindset they’re going for, but in my opinion, it’s not an effective or sustainable approach. The body needs rest to perform at high levels. Muscles need time to repair and grow. The central nervous system needs time to recuperate after the shock that comes from an extremely intense training session. If you train legs hard, and I mean actually hard, you know what I’m talking about. As tough or heroic as no rest sounds, it foolish. We need rest, mentally and physically. Now, endurance training is a little different. You’re training the body to perform or endure for longer periods of time without rest, but even with endurance training, the body eventually needs to rest. You can feel an undeniable difference in your workout when you’re rested, so maybe it makes sense to give your body that rest it needs? Just a suggestion. I mean, it’s effectively worked for me the past few years, and I used to be one of those no rest day fanatics.
Stretch or get blood flowing. – I’m a huge fan of static warmups. I actually prefer to stretch after my workouts instead of before. Using resistance bands to warm up my rotator cuffs before an upper body day or pumping blood into my legs with some lightweight quad extensions and hamstring curls has worked wonders for me. Having blood in the muscle and joint before I hit a working set, to me, feels like it’s properly prepared for what I’m about to put it through with my working sets. It’s like lubrication to make the machine fire more freely and effectively. I know I sound weird, but it makes perfect sense in my head, and it just feels right. I’m not saying you need to waste a bunch of time with tons and tons of lightweight volume before your real workout begins. I’m saying just try taking 5-10 minutes to get the blood flowing, I think you’ll be glad you did, and you’ll probably always do it after you’ve tried it. It’s a staple part of my routine now, because I know it makes a difference, and it’s worth the time and effort.
Block out the noise. – Unless you’re dealing with an emergency, have an on-call occupation, or watching a training video as motivation or to learn as you train, stay off of your phone! Keep your mind focused on your workout. If you’re training with a training partner, enjoy your time together, but try to keep your conversation related to the workout, or at least, from distracting you from your workout. If you train alone, this is your time to focus on yourself. It’s not selfish, it’s therapeutic. Remember, when self-development feels selfish, we have to be strong so we can be strong for others.
Create a music playlist. – Music is a powerful motivator. It’s fascinating and absolutely crazy to me how the tempo of a song can affect the listener’s heart rate. The connection between our bodies and music is incredible. I like to listen to high tempo songs when I do cardio, because the rhythm helps keep me going even when I want to stop. I also watch informational or inspirational YouTube videos and listen to podcasts while doing cardio to help pass the time productively. When I’m weight training, I like to listen to hip-hip or metal, but those genres can also make me a little too angry, so I balance it out with motivational dialogues put to music. I know, I’m weird, but it keeps me thinking positive thoughts instead of spiraling negatively in anger or self-pity. Build a playlist that works for you. Pay attention to how it affects your energy and mood, and make adjustments to your playlist accordingly.
Take a preworkout and drink an intra. – This is optional. Yes, I take a preworkout, pump product, and drink BCAAs as an intra for every workout, because I love the energy, increased blood flow to the muscle for a crazy pump, and endurance that allows me to lift heavier weight for more reps. But, I also recognize that I own a supplement company and want to make sure you understand I’m not pushing product to you just for the sake of trying to make sales. If I didn’t believe in the products, I wouldn’t use them myself, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend them to others. Side note: if I could only take one of our LFTD. products, it would be our super greens though, because I’ve learned how important our health is. We can’t workout or really do much in life physically or even in some instances, mentally, if we don’t have our health. So as much as I love taking preworkout, pump, and BCAAs to fuel my workouts, I’ve learned it’s even more important to fuel my body with a healthy diet.
Eat accordingly. - When I say eat “accordingly”, I mean to eat according to your goals and according to when you’re training. Let’s start with eating according to your goals. If you want to gain healthy weight, eat healthy foods in a caloric surplus. If you want to lose weight in a healthy way, eat healthy foods in a caloric deficit. A surplus means you’re eating more calories than you’re burning, and a deficit means you’re burning more calories than you’re consuming. I could go on and on about this subject, but not in this blog, I’m keeping it simple. Next, let’s talk about eating according to the timing of your workout. A lot of people like to train fasted, meaning they’re training on an empty stomach. I like to save that method for the end of a shred, but I don’ t like to use it all the time. I prefer to eat about an hour before training, and I make sure my meal consists of lean protein and clean carbs or healthy fats for my body to use as energy during my workout. Try eating some healthy carbs right before your next workout and see how it affects your pump and energy levels. I think you’ll like it, because I love it.
Set your perspective in gratitude. – It’s very common to become bored or complacent with your workout routine. I’ve found that when I set my perspective in gratitude, meaning I realize how thankful I am to have my health and even be physically able to train, it changes my attitude towards my training. Instead of viewing it as something I have to do, I start viewing it as something I get to do. There’s a big difference. A positive and enthusiastic attitude towards your training will not only affect how you feel mentally during your training, but it also affects how your body performs and reacts to your training. If you don’t believe me, try it out for yourself and maybe do a little research to see what the experts, who know more than me, have to say about it. What do you have to lose?
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