It’s hard, it’s painful, and it’s tiring, but it’s worth it. If you’re doing it right…
It takes a special kind of crazy person to truly enjoy the pain, sweat and tears that comes with hours of working out at the gym. And even they would like to make sure they’re getting the most out of every rep.
To make sure every bead of sweat counts, follow these guidelines so that you get maximum results from every one of your workouts.
Most people think getting huge is as simple as picking up and curling a dumbbell until you’re sore; but warming up and stretching to prepare your body and avoid injury, eating the right food to fuel your workout, and timing your meals to ensure the fuel is in the furnace at the right time, is just as important as pumping the iron.
Do these things before you even lift a weight to blast through your routines while avoiding unnecessary injury.
The Right Fuel at The Right Time
Just like a machine requires the right fuel to get the job done, our bodies also require the right fuel for maximum output during workouts. What you consume before any workout can define the difference making gains or just wasting your time. Your pre-workout meal is important as it regulates your blood sugar, body temperature and fuels your muscles. When your body is supplied with the right nutrients, it can endure longer, leading to better workouts, and will have the right components to rebuild stronger if you also follow through with your post workout meals
Our bodies use Carbohydrates and Glycogen as its first source of fuel. This is because carbohydrates and glycogen can be quickly converted to ATP. Therefore, loading up on these pre-workout will give you more energy to train harder.
There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are digested quickly, so should be eaten around half an hour prior to a workout. Banana’s, fruit smoothies or pre-workout mixes are excellent sources of simple carbs.
Complex carbohydrates are digested slower, so should be consumed one and half to two hours prior to exercise. Oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa are excellent sources of complex carbs, with quinoa also being particularly high in protein as well.
Warming up is crucial for keeping your body injury free and preparing yourself for an intense workout. A good warm up will gradually increase your heart rate, increase circulation to your muscles, tendons and ligaments, and mentally prepare you for what’s to come.
How long and how hard your workout is depends on your fitness level and goals, but on average, 10 minutes is perfect to increase raise your heart rate and breathing, to increase your blood flow and transportation of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles.
Brisk walking or cycling, gradually increasing incline and speed every few minutes are excellent warm ups to get your body ready.
Although warm ups and stretching generally occur at the beginning of a workout, they are two different concepts. They are both vital for preparing your body, but doing warmups prepares your lungs and heart for the intensity to come, while stretching is done to improve muscle elasticity and avoid cramping.
What muscles you choose to stretch depend on what muscles you will be working on during your training session.
The difference between an effective workout and a waste of time depends on whether you are doing everything right. Its nice to think that a good training session involves just working out till you’re sore, but if you don’t follow proper technique, focus on the right muscle groups and stay hydrated, you’ll end up injured, no different, or dis-proportioned.
Exercising in Good Form
If you want the best results you need the best technique. Make sure you do your homework before you try an exercise to ensure you’re doing it correctly, or if you have a friend who’s a regular at the gym, see if they can check your technique and provide pointers until you’re in good form. In absence of a gym buddy, watch others do the workout or work with a coach. They’ll be able to not just correct your form, but also motivate you to reach your real limits.
The good news is that everything we do physically forms new neurological patterns in our brain over time. So, as you continually do reps correctly, it will eventually become second nature to you.
Working all Muscle Groups
We’ve all the heard the saying to not skip leg day, but what does it really mean and why do we say it? Beyond just your legs, it means to not skip working any particular area. Doing so will make you end up looking disproportioned, and you may end up having weak supporting muscles that should have been trained to help carry the weight of the ones you’ve grown. Think about it, if you have a large upper body, you need to train your lower body so that it can the extra weight.
Our bodies are made up of around 60% of water, and our blood about 92%, but when we’re working out we’re losing 4 or more cups of it per hour, depending on fitness and intensity. So, keeping yourself hydrated is essential when we’re working out.
Remaining hydrated not only keeps us performing optimally, but since our blood carries nutrients to our muscles for repair, replacing lost water is also essential for recovery and growth.
Exercise, including both strength and endurance training, has numerous health benefits and is great for aesthetics. However, high-intensity exercise puts significant physiological stress on our bodies.
This makes post-workout recovery vital to allow our bodies to repair and rebuild stronger.
When we exercise we’re causing minor damage to our muscles. We tear our muscle fibers, which our bodies then repair and adapt to better handle the stimulus that damaged them.
But in order to repair, our bodies need enough rest, and the right nutrition to repair and strengthen the damaged fibers.
So, you’ve just finished your workout and now you’re feeling hungry… But what do you eat and when?
Getting the right post-workout nutrition at the right time will allow your body to:
- Replenish its glycogen stores
- Decrease protein breakdown
- Increase protein synthesis
Immediately after a workout your muscles are primed to accept nutrients that can stimulate muscle repair and growth, a window that is open for just a few hours. Any later than this and you’re decreasing protein synthesis.
Your body will need protein to grow muscle and carbohydrates to replace muscle glycogen (and to enhance your bodies insulin response in transporting nutrients into your muscle cells).
Immediately after a workout drink a post-workout drink that contains rapidly digestible carbohydrates and proteins to accelerate recovery, and follow up around two hours later with a whole food meal containing complex carbs and more protein to further fuel protein synthesis.
Most of us know that getting enough rest after a workout is important, but what is it actually for?
When we rest our bodies after a workout, they’re not actually at rest, they’re busy at work replenishing our energy stores and repairing all the damage we’ve just done to them.
So, if you feel like you’re being unproductive not fitting in an extra workout, note that your body is actually being super productive, and that sacrificing recovery time for an extra workout will slow muscle repair and energy replenishment, leading to less effective workouts and results, and injury over time.
Research suggests that resting muscle groups for a minimum of 48 hours is optimal, and so is 8 hours of sleep each night, as this is when our body does most of its recovery.
Knowledge is only half the battle
Exercising and working out to improve your health and look better may be more complicated than you initially though, but once you’ve got everything down, you’ll not only feel better than ever, you’ll also have a body that not many are able to attain.