Strength training and good nutrition are the foundation to building muscle, achieving that desired physique and boosting your resting metabolism.
In my previous blog Nutrition Tips to Maximize Your Workout, I addressed what to eat before, during and after a workout to maximize your efforts in the gym. Today, I’ve got 5 tips to help you in the gym for a stronger, faster, more powerful you.
1. Start with your form
Poor form can prompt injuries and slow gains.
– When I try a new exercise move, I like to start with no weight or very light weight, and watch myself in the gym mirror to focus on form first.
– I do almost all my lifting standing up. Because two-thirds of all your muscle fibers are responsible for balance and coordination, and the remaining third are designed for movement. Therefore, you get more out of exercises that are done standing than you do for ones where you’re seated, lying down, or strapped into a machine, and you’re more likely to pay attention to your form.
2. Increase the intensity a small amount per week
The main reason people plateau and stop gaining strength is because they’ve been lifting the same amount for too long.
– I vary the weights I choose depending on the type of movement and the targeted muscle. I choose a weight that tires the targeted muscle or muscles by the last two repetitions, while still allowing myself to maintain good form.
– If I can’t do the last two reps, I choose a lighter weight. When it feels too easy to complete I add weight, or add another set of repetitions to the workout.
3. Give your muscles time off
Strength training causes tiny tears in muscle tissues, and muscles grow stronger as the tears knit up.
– Focus on a different group of muscles every day to give your muscles at least 48 hours to recover. Plus, switching up your workout is essential to building endurance and stamina, but also for keeping you motivated.
– Remember that your time outside the gym is responsible for repair and growth. In addition to good nutrition, I try to sleep 7-9 hours per night consistently and try to reduce outside stress as much as possible. You’d be amazed at how much these factors truly affect your ability to improve your body composition.
4. Know your limits and don’t over train
Know that soreness is not a sign of how ‘fresh’ your muscles are, rather how ‘fatigued’ they are.
– Rest in between sets to reset your muscles so you can perform your reps to the best of your ability. I keep a close eye on the clock to make sure I’m not spending too much, or too little time resting – hitting the sweet spot will lower your risk for injury, as well as make your workout as effective as it can be.
– Keep your workout to under 90 minutes, train with 100% intensity and take reasonable rest between sets and exercises.
5. Have a good warm-up and cool-down
I’m still working on this one, but it’s crucial to success in the gym.
– Make it a habit to prepare your body for the intense exercise to come, as this helps to minimize damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments, allowing you to train harder and better. Loosen your muscles by stretching or foam-rolling before a workout. This will increase blood flow in the muscles and prevent injury.
– Once you’re done your workout, loosen your muscles by taking a slow walk, arm circles, foam rolling or static stretching to stop your blood from pooling and keep your circulation flowing until your body regulates.
I’m grateful to work with awesome personal trainers through my job, who have taught me a lot on improving exercise. I love working out, especially strength training but I am in no way an expert at exercise fitness. Set up a session with a certified personal trainer if you would like further guidance.