How to Get More Out of Your Workout Routine
“I don’t have time to go to the gym” is a popular excuse for people to slack off but what if you really don’t have time to hit the gym? If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll simply make excuses. This is true for most cases because when it really comes down to it, we make time for what we truly want. However, not all of us have the luxury of spending the whole day at the gym. The general population has around one to one and a half hours to kill. That’s plenty of time to burn some calories and make gains, but you want to maximize that time, not waste it.
The next time you’re short on time, make sure you try some of these tips. You’ll be glad you did!
- Superset a machine exercise with a bodyweight exercise.
Supersets are exercise sets that are done in quick succession. So for example, in one superset you can do one set of lat pull-downs then proceed to do one set of pull-ups immediately after. The key is to keep your heart rate up with short rest times. Bodybuilders often employ this method of training for a more intense training regimen.
In commercial gyms, it’s more difficult to superset with machines because of the higher volume of traffic. More people equals fewer machines at your disposal. By using a bodyweight exercise as your second exercise in a superset, you can shorten the time in between sets and fatigue the target muscle more quickly without having to wait for a machine or inconveniencing other gym-goers in the process—a win-win.
- Eat a proper meal an hour before your workout.
How does eating before a workout help? Well, for starters, not many people realize the importance of nutrition for performance, recovery and growth. Before training, you want to prime the body for muscle protein synthesis while also providing sufficient fuel to kill your workout. Nutritionists recommend a combination of protein and carbs with minimal fats. Fats slow down digestion, so you want to keep them to a minimum so as not to delay the absorption of food.
Lean proteins like chicken breast, white fish, egg whites or whey protein isolate are a great source of amino acids. For carbs, you want to have something that is not too high in fiber, but not too high on the glycemic index either. Too much fiber will force the digestive system to work too hard; you don’t want to be digesting a big meal while working out. On the other hand, fast carbs could give you a lot of energy, but leave you feeling lethargic and tired once it runs out. Slower-burning carbs like oatmeal or a mix of white and sweet potatoes would work nicely.
- Vary your rep speed and rep tempo.
Studies show that fast repetitions (moving the weight from point a to point b as quickly as possible) are superior for building strength. On the other hand, slower repetitions (slow concentric and eccentric) have been shown to be better for putting on size. Utilize both of these techniques for maximal gains. You can employ both techniques for 1-2 exercises each per training session, or do blocks within your training cycles—1 week speed reps alternated with 1 week of slower reps.
- Drink a caffeine supplement before your workout.
According to research, caffeine supplements increase endurance and fat-burning, and reduce muscle pain during training. This translates to potentially being able to crank out more reps. A recent study conducted by the University of Nevada indicates that people who took a caffeine supplement prior to training showed an increase in their one rep max in the bench press by around 5 pounds.
- Listen to music.
A Weird Research Group study found that bodybuilders who trained while listening to music were able to perform 2 more reps per set on all their exercises. The next time you go to the gym, have an iPod or mp3 player with you with a motivational playlist. Specific genres of music can elicit different reactions depending on the individual. Use this to your advantage and kill your next workout.