Have you been working out for with little to show for it? The solution may be more than simply working harder or eating less. Here are a few things to keep in mind when working out that you may have not thought of.
If you are looking to add mass, you need to take in more quality calories. If you are looking to maintain or cut, you still need the fuel to get you through your workouts. If you are looking to cut, you want to make sure that you are taking in the right type calories or your body turns to the most readily available source for its energy – muscle protein. This is the last thing that you want to lose.
Do not Overtrain
Overtraining can rear its ugly head in the form of working out too frequently or too long. You need to let the body recover and return to homeostasis, so that it can efficiently build the muscle you want or burn the fat you do not want. You build muscle when you are resting, not when you are working out. You get a pump when working out, not solid muscle that remains. Overtraining leads to the breakdown of muscles. Let your body dictate how much rest you need.
I am a victim of poor sleep a lot myself, but I am getting better. Sleep is essential to the body and the muscles. Certain growth hormones, which help us build muscle and burn fat, are active when we sleep and not active when we are awake. Make it a point to get to sleep on time. Not only will your muscles thank you, but your family, friends, co-workers, etc. will thank you. You will feel more refreshed every morning and less cranky.
Focus on your workout. Breathe when you need to. Contract muscles when you need to. While lifting, you need to be cognizant of what you are doing at all times, which means to leave the cell phone in the locker. Do not tweet photos of your pump mid-workout or check in on Facebook to let your “friends” know that you are working out. Honestly, they really do not care unless you are Jay Cutler and you are working out around the corner from me, I do not care that you are about to start your workout.
Along the same lines of posting photos and updating statuses goes texting/phoning people between sets and/or conversations with others in the gym. Just get to work if you really want the body of your dreams.
While I am not a huge fan of stretching before everything you do, I am a huge proponent of warming up. I could never image benching 70% of my 1RM without doing 2-3 (if not more) warmup sets to get me up to that weight. I normally warm up by doing lighter sets of less reps of the same exercise. I am also a huge fan of dynamic warmups, which get your body moving the right way. Lifting heavy weight with cold muscles could lead to pulls, tears, etc., which will leave you on the sidelines for a very long time.