There is always room for improvement in the gym. Whether you have been training for three months or three years, mistakes will happen. Fitness is such an in depth topic, it’s easy to overlook adjustments that can boost the effectiveness of your workouts. But making small tweaks to your training can lead to big changes in your physique.
Here are 5 simple adjustments to help you get the most out of your gym time.
ADJUSTMENT #1: Focus On Quality
There are times when you train as heavy as possible, but only when using proper technique. Poor form can lead to a lack of focus on the muscle being trained and injuries. Those trying to lift too much also tend to hold their breath, which can cause a dangerous increase in blood pressure. Instead of focusing on weight, shift your focus to the overall quality of each lift. Fortunately, finding that sweet spot is simple. Take a look at what you are lifting and reduce it. Once the first decrease is made, test the new weight and continue to adjust as needed. The goal is to find an amount that you can control but challenges muscles at the same time.
ADJUSTMENT #2:Better Mind Muscle Connection
Establishing a strong mind muscle connection will recruit more muscles fibers and simply make you better. Think about which muscle you are working on prior to lifting and visualize a successful set of lifts. Focus on that primary muscle during the exercise. Do not focus only on the concentric (contraction) motion but also on the eccentric (release). Slowing down the eccentric phase of an exercise allows you to lift more weight eccentrically which will improve strength, muscle endurance and size.
ADJUSTMENT #3: Control your pace
If you have set aside time to spend at the gym, why are you still in such a rush? Rushing through a workout produces minimal result – it is important to maintain a steady pace. Even quick, explosive lifting requires a controlled pace, otherwise you’ll end up compromising technique for speed. Along with a steady pace, a brief but deliberate hold of the muscle at the maximum point of contraction is an adjustment everyone should make. Doing so increases time under tension which makes sets more effective.
ADJUSTMENT #4: Monitor Your Rest Periods
If you’re at the gym to socialize, stay away from me. I deliberately wear headphones to avoid the talkers. There are numerous articles out there that recommend limiting rest periods from anywhere from 60 to 180 seconds between sets, but I tend to take longer breaks when I’m lifting heavy and performing lower reps – up to 3 minutes in this instance. The key is doing what’s right for you. If 60 seconds isn’t enough, the last thing you want to do is go into a lift when you’re still recovering from the last set. Regardless, time can get away from you if you’re chatting with your fellow gym goers. A one-minute rest can quickly become a 5 minute one if you’re not careful – which can ruin a good workout. Stay focused, move from lift to lift and machine to machine.
ADJUSTMENT #5: Have A Game Plan, Write It Down
Before each workout, I write down all the lifts and sets I will accomplish that day as well as the pace (or time under tension). Doing so makes every gym visit more efficient. Plan a week’s worth of workouts and keep the plan on hand. It’s easy to cut a workout short, but having a list of things that need to be done will prevent you from leaving before they are all completed. Along with a game plan, how do you know if you’re improving if you are not keeping track? Sure new lifters see results quickly and probably don’t see the value in tracking but we can all benefit from it. There are so many ways to track progress. You can use a pen and paper or one of the popular fitness tracking apps out there or make a spreadsheet. Just remember to stay consistent with progress tracking. Otherwise your data will not be accurate. To avoid inconsistencies add “track progress” to your to do list.