Far too many trainees think their workouts start only once they enter the gym and end as soon as they finish their last set. By neglecting what you do before and after your workout, you can severely decrease its effectiveness.
Here are a few tips that’ll help ensure you get the most out of your time in the gym:
GET YOUR TIMING STRAIGHT
If you have the option, it’s best to work out either 3 hours or 11 hours after you wake up. However, the most important factor is to work out at the same time every day.
If you can avoid it, it’s much better not to work out within 3 hours of going to bed. If you do, it can affect your sleep, which inhibits recovery and contributes to fat gain.
TOP OFF YOUR FUEL TANKS
Do not workout on an empty stomach. Your last meal should be 1-1.5 hours prior to the start of your workout. So, if you work out first thing in the morning, you should wakeup, eat, wait an hour, and then hit the gym.
KICK YOUR BRAIN INTO HIGH GEAR
In a perfect world, there would be nothing to interfere with our mental states when we’re working out. In realty, people work out still groggy from having just gotten up or tired from a full day’s work.
Walk into a gym with a tired brain and there’s a good chance you’re wasting your time.
So make sure your brain is in high gear before you hit the gym. Consider a pre-workout energizer, such as ALC-Propionate or Alpha-GPC. If you have nothing else, down a cup of organic coffee (no sweeteners, no milk) 45 minutes before you plan to start pumping. Also, you could always get a fitness coach or find a beachbody coach if you struggle with getting motivated to workout.
WARM UP PROPERLY
The best warm-up is a dynamic warm-up. That means using the basic motion you will be training at a lower intensity and at low volume.
If you’re running intervals, by all means start with a short jog. However, NEVER do cardio before a weight training session. It lowers the PH in your blood and makes it difficult for your nervous system to recruit muscle motor units. The more units recruited, the more beneficial the workout.
Instead, warm up a muscle group with two sets of the first exercise for that muscle group at a lower weight and only three reps. Take a couple minutes off and then start the workout.
TO STRETCH OR NOT TO STRETCH?
Do not statically stretch the muscles you’re using in a workout before, during, or right after that workout. Static stretching weakens a muscle for four to six hours, which means a less effective workout.
Save your stretching until before bed when you’re relaxed and the activity will prepare your body for sleep.
REGENERATE OR WASTE AWAY
Breakfast and the post-workout shake are tied for the most important meals of the day. When you finish your workout, your body is in a highly catabolic state. To snap yourself back into anabolic mode, you should consume a liquid meal as soon as possible after you’re done training.
The shake should consist of, at least, whey protein concentrate and a product to replace your muscle glycogen. The protein should comprise ¼ of your daily protein intake.
Since everyone should be consuming at least 1 gram per pound bodyweight a day, a trainee who weighs 200 pounds should scoop 50g into his or her shake.
For replacing glycogen, lean trainees — meaning those with under 10% body fat — should use a carbohydrate blend such as Quadricarb. Trainees who are above 10% should use 60g of glutamine and 20g of L-Gycine. That will replace their energy stores without spiking their insulin.
GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR WORKOUT
You don’t need to workout 15 hours a week to be in shape. Four will do, but you have to make sure that you’re not inhibiting your training by failing to prepare or recover properly from it.
Follow the above steps and you’ll get a lot more out of the time you do have to spend in the gym.