My favorite workouts include running, hiking, spinning, walking, and yoga. I have understood the importance of lifting weights since beginning of high school when I took my first Strength and Conditioning class however, my passion for gym workouts has been a roller coster. I have gone through phases where my passion for working out in the gym has been strong and others where I have been completely unmotivated to go to the gym. Here is the load down on how to get the most out of a workout, regardless of how motivated or unmotivated you may be. Once you have made it to the gym this is what I suggest you do:
Plug in your headphones and turn up the volume. I download a lot of my workout mixes from music blogs such as drop beat not bombs or chemical jump. Having a long mix or playlist is much better than having to flip through tracks. Also, an iPod nano or iPod shuffle serves as an excellent workout buddy because they are tiny and never get in the way. (best investment ever!) The less hassle involved during your workout, the better.
Engage your core. Do a few front planks and side planks to get your core engaged for your workout. Once your core muscles have been “awakened” you will be more likely to engage them and you will be more likely to think about using them to support your body movements.
Next step is your warm up. The goal is to get your blood flowing through your body and to increase your heart rate. At the end of your warm up you should be close to breaking a sweat. Here are a few warm up options:
– Hop on the bike for 7-10 minutes (gradually increasing resistance to increase heart rate)
– Use the rowing machine: 1 500 meter row or 2-3 200 meter rows
– Jog or run on treadmill for 7-10 minutes
– Inclined walk for 7-10 minutes
Now that you are warmed up, you can do a few stretches that directly relate to the workout that you have planned. You should be moving around while stretching, not just standing still. Once you have raised your heart rate during the warm up, you want to keep it at the rate or higher.
Your workout results will be drastically different if you choose not to warm up before. You can burn more calories and have a lot more range of motion if you warm up.
Now for the main attraction..
I like to split my workout up into 3 sections. The first two sections contain 3 exercises each and the last section is a rotation of abdominal exercises. Here is an example:
a. Bicep curl with step up
b. Squat with row
c. Tricep dips
a. Burpies (push up followed by vertical jump)
b. Forward Lunge with chest press (using cables or dumbbells)
c. Step-up with overhead press
Perform exercises a, b & c from section 1 in rotation 3 times through. Then move on to section 2 and perform exercises in rotation 3 times through.
The rotation is important because you give your muscles just enough time to rest before you work them again. Your choice of weight, set # and rep # will depend on the goal of your workout.
Section 3: abs
Rotate through 3 ab exercises 3 times performing at least 25 repetitions of each exercise. Here are some of my favorites:
– knee tuck with stability ball
– ball roll out
– Pilates double leg stretch (lying on back, both arms and legs are extended at the same time)
Now all thats left is a nice relaxing stretching session. I like to do a 10 minute full-body stretch but if you are in a rush or pressed for time you should focus on the specific muscles groups that you used during your workout.
I like this workout structure because it keeps you moving from one exercise to the next without too much down-time. It helps the workout feel like it goes by quickly because it is split up into sections. This full workout should take you 1 hour. Remember to always focus on your form/ alignment so that you do not injure yourself. Also, do not always do the same exercises! There are hundreds of exercises to choose from, get creative or look online. The more varied your workouts, the better results you will get. Planning ahead can help you be more focused in the gym. I get a much better quality workout if I go in knowing which exercises I am going to do. I find it helpful to set up all three exercises before I start the workout section so that I can quickly move from one to the next.
Another important factor for your workout is hydration. Staying hydrated before, during and after your workout will help your body perform and recover more efficiently. WATER WATER WATER WATER. Gatorade contains high fructose corn syrup and most other vitamin drinks have ingredients that do not benefit your overall health. Don’t be fooled by the health claims on bottles. Also, investing in a stainless steal water bottle is beneficial to your health and to the environment. imagine how many water plastic water bottles you use if you bring 1 or 2 to each workout. If the plastic water bottle has been sitting in the sun at any point from the time that it is bottled to the time of consumption it is possible that chemicals in the plastic have now melted into your water. These chemicals have cancer causing agents and are not meant to be ingested. So save your health and the environment.
Hope that this post gives you a new approach to your time in the gym. Remember, the more effort you put in, the more you get out. If possible, go to the gym when you have the most energy during the day!