Unless you’re forced to walk 50 miles on broken glass to get to your gym, the saying “the hardest part of going to the gym is getting to the gym” doesn’t really hold true. In fact, we think the toughest part about the gym is making the most of your time spent there. That being said, here are eight things you should do during every workout for maximum results.
Research shows that when you mentally rehearse before a big task you perform better. And according to a study published in the journal Behavioral and Brain Functions, when you use dynamic imagery—adding slight movement to that mental rehearsal—your odds of success edge even higher,
Researches reported that high jumpers that used dynamic imagery performed 10 percent better than jumpers who used only mental rehearsal.
Keep yourself honest about your progress by being meticulous about your workout journal. Keeping tabs on the exercises performed, and reps, sets, rest and weights used allows you to determine weak areas that require focus and proof that you’re either progressing or dogging it.
“When I train clients I keep a log and input the information into a database,” explains Eraldo Maglara N.S.C.A.-C.P.T. “Every three months or so I print a report so the client can see exactly what’s been accomplished, needs improved, or adjustments that need to be made. Being able to see the data can be inspiring while providing an idea of where we’re heading and how we want to get there.”
You exercise hard to A) remain healthy and B) look good when it’s time to get naked. And as you work to achieve that goal you can also be working on your mental health. How? Unplugging.
Studies show that taking breaks from emails, social media, and text messages when you’re not at work is beneficial to your well-being. A simple way to do that while you train is to set your phone to “Airplane Mode” so you’re not interrupted by alerts. If you use your phone to stream music, adjust your message settings so there are no noises or vibrations if a message is received.
There are times to push past the burn, and there are times to listen to your body pleading with you to stop what you’re doing immediately. Missing or ignoring what your body is telling you to do will inevitably land you on the injured reserve.
“Experiencing some soreness after you train is natural,” Maglara says. “But if you’re sore four days later or you feel like something just isn’t right, you’ll want to get that checked out. Ignoring that will only lead to getting hurt, which pushes the timeframe back on your goal.
Whether you’re a day-one beginner or a bonafide gym rat, the rule never changes: proper form always trumps weight.
“I’ve seen people screw themselves up with poor technique,” Maglara says. “That’s why you need a strong foundation and proper technique during every rep of every set. If it fits with your goals, once the technique is mastered you can move on to heavier loads.”
Following a regimen helps keep you consistent. However, if the mood strikes you to veer away from the program and either up the intensity or switch gears completely, embrace it.
“Stagnation and repetitiveness will cause your body and mind to wander,” Maglara explains. “Modify your routine so you’re doing something the body isn’t expecting. Whether that’s more cardio, more weight, or less rest, challenging yourself will keep you interested and achieving results.”
Even if you know a lot about muscles and fitness, you don’t know it all. When you see someone doing a variation of an exercise that you’ve never seen, either ask that person what they’re doing, find a qualified staff member to ask, or jot it down to look up later.
“If you don’t continue to learn as much as you can you run the risk of losing interest and abandoning what you’re doing,” says Maglara. “Just make sure the person giving you an answer is a reputable source, and then do your homework to verify it’s correct.”
If you’re thirsty, you’re most likely already slightly dehydrated. And dehydration can cause both your mental and physical performance to suffer.
“Your body isn’t running optimally when it’s dehydrated,” explains Maglara. “Drinking water during a workout is what I do the majority of the time, but drinking water can also get boring. To change things up I will sometimes drink a reduced-sugar sports drink.”
BY ZACK ZEIGLER