Poor energy levels, incomplete sets, longer-than-desired workouts and shoddy results can leave you feeling like your time in the gym is a waste of time. But the good news is, there are lots of things you can do before and after the gym to ensure a fantastic workout every time.
Your workout doesn’t start when you walk into the gym, it begins when you wake up in the morning and continues throughout the day. Preparations go beyond just packing your gym bag, it starts with eating the right things at the right times to increase your body’s productivity at the gym. In addition to your usual nutritional goals, you should observe these tips to power you through your workout and achieve a stronger, fitter body.
1. Eat slow-burning carbs before workouts
Eating slow-digesting carbs such as whole grains for breakfast and lunch, result in lower insulin levels and will help burn more fat during the day. Be sure that all the meals you eat before your workout, including the one immediately before, include about 40 grams of slow-digesting carbs such as oats, sweet potatoe, fruit or whole-wheat bread.
2. Avoid high fat meals before workouts
A high-fat meal means less blood flow to muscles and less of a muscle pump. In the four hours before your workout, avoid eating large amounts of fats, such as the obvious fast-food fare and packaged foods.
3. Take 200 mg of caffeine 1-2 hours before your workout
Research shows that caffeine taken pre workout increases fat-burning and endurance and blunts muscle pain during training, which means you can do more reps.
4. Focus on the muscle you want to train
British researchers discovered that subjects who focused on the muscle being trained had significantly more muscle activity than those who thought about other things. More muscle recruitment can result in more muscle growth in the long run. Be sure that for every rep of every set during your workout you’re thinking about the muscle(s) being trained, instead of wondering what you will be cooking for dinner tonight.
5. Find a training partner
Training partners can add variety and motivation to a workout. You can share tips, exercises and encourage each other to train a little harder than training alone – this can be a nice variation to your usual higher intensity session you have with your personal trainer each week
6. Use an i-Pod
A study done at the Weider Research Group found that when test subjects performed a workout while listening to music, they were able to complete an average of 1-2 more reps per set for all sets of all exercises.
7. Save cardio for after your weights workout
Having maximum strength for your weights session is the goal. Try to do your cardio either after weights or on a different day to ensure you do not affect your weight training.