Getting Back to Basics With Your Workout
Whether you are a novice fitness enthusiast, an intermediate one, or an advanced one, you could always use a getting-back-to-basics reminder. At some point in our workouts, we tend to go through the motions and forget about the simple things that got us this far. This article is here to remind you that you should always remember how you got to where you are at.
Create a Plan
You need to know where you are going, how you are going to get there and when you are going to get there. For every workout, I have my plan in place. I know what body parts are being worked that day and have a good idea of which exercises will get done in which order. I may stray from the precise workout at times by adding drop sets or supersetting exercises, but the foundation is always there. My software lets me know how much weight and how many reps I did per exercise the last time around as well as what my 1RM is for that exercise.
Regardless of how the plan changes, I will work the intended body part for that day. I will not stray from the plan and work on a different body part.
Feed the Machine Before Your Workout
Make sure that you are properly fueled before working out. According to the American Council on Exercise, 60 minutes of exercise can cause you to lose more than a quart of water. Drink the recommended two 8-ounce bottles of water a few hours before exercising, another glass half an hour before exercise, and 7-10 ounces every 20 minutes while working out.
In order to maximize the results of your workout, take in a meal consisting of carbs and fast-absorbing protein before your workout.
Focus on Form
Proper form cannot be stressed enough. It is never a bad idea to take a step back and ensure that you are indeed using proper form for every exercise. To this day, I still watch videos, read books, blogs, etc. to ensure that I am performing each exercise with proper form.
Proper form maximizes your efforts and ensures that you are targeting the correct muscles while decreasing unnecessary stress placed on muscles and joints. With proper form comes the decreased chance of causing an injury (and much better benefits).
Never increase the weight that you are using unless you can handle the weight with perfect form.
Along with using proper form, it is necessary to breathe properly. Maintain steady, consistent breathing throughout the exercise. Inhale on the eccentric portion (where you are not producing force). Exhale on the concentric portion (where you are producing force).
Concentrate on Compound Movements
Compound movements, moves which involve more than one muscle group or joint, are where it is at. Maximum results can be obtained with less work by utilizing compound movements. These movements should make up the bulk of your workout program. Isolation exercises are really only necessary for advanced routines.
Focus on Your Workout
Form is not the only thing that you need to focus on. Make sure that, when it is workout time, nothing gets in your way. This may involve telling friends and family that you are not accessible during this time, but it is crucial that you are 100% focused. Do not answer your phone or check your email while working out. Believe me, pretty much everything can wait for you to get done.
Keep your eye on your timer between sets to ensure that rest periods are long enough and not too long. As part of your plan, you should know the length of every rest period. Make sure that you stick to those times and you have a mechanism tracking this time for you.
Monitor Your Progress
I used a mobile app that I log every exercise in during every workout. This includes weight lifting and cardio. I use a separate app that tracks my meals and macros. These are my two most used apps believe it or not. I am in both of these apps multiple times per day. The workout app keeps me informed of how much I should be lifting and how many reps I should be lifting the weights for. The meal app tracks my macros, which is even more important than how much I lifted.
Switch Things Up
This is one of the biggest mistakes made by people working out. Performing the same workout over and over again without any changes will make your body accustomed to the workout meaning that you will not make progress. The body is an amazing thing. If you do something repeatedly, the body will adapt to it. Performing the same workout will not put enough stress on the muscles meaning that you will hit a plateau and remain there. You can trick the body by simply altering your workouts every 4-6 weeks. In addition to making the body keep guessing, varuety also prevent boredom.
Rest periods are crucial to gains. Never underestimate the importance of rest days and sleeping well. Working out destroys your muscles and they need time to recuperate. Lifting weights also puts a large amount of stress on the central nervous system.