1. Plan your training
Exercising without a plan is like driving without a destination, setting goals and planning your routines is essential if you want to progress. Plans can come in the form of structuring training for different muscle groups or training for a particular outcome such as fat loss or adding muscle mass. Be clear about what you want and then structure your training and diet to achieve it.
2. Take your nutrition seriously
It amazes me how many people complain about little or no gains, you’ll normally find the old “I’m in the gym fives times a week” in the same sentence. When you ask them about their food plan it’s normally non-existent and still includes drinking every weekend, takeaways and all the wrong snacks. It’s simple, training breaks down the muscle fibres, if you don’t have the right or enough material to build your muscles back up you’re never going to grow. Everything from proteins, fats and carbohydrates through to your vitamin and mineral intake has to be taken into account.
3. Stay dedicated
Sounds obvious, but far too many people give up after a few weeks of hard work, it’s proven that hypertrophy the actual growth of new muscle can take around eight weeks, so stick with it and make sure what ever routine you start is worked into your lifestyle. If you make unrealistic demands of yourself then it’s never going to last.
4. Rest your muscles and get your sleep
General sleep and rest is just as important as the training itself. Lets remember, your muscle don’t actually grow in the gym, the process of weight lifting breaks those muscle fibres down, you need to give the body adequate time to recover and grow. Overtraining is a common issue, listen to your body, you’ll be stronger for it. A good 6-8 hours sleep every night will keep your body and mind at its peak and enable the body to properly repair broken muscle fibres.
5. Eat at the right times
So I’ve already mentioned how important nutrition is to the whole process, but here is step two in that process. You’ve got to power your work outs and feed the body the nutrients at the right time to get optimal results.
Starting with breakfast, as it suggest in the name “break fast” those hungry muscles of yours have been starved for around 6-8 hours. So, before they start to eat themselves and your hard earned gains get some food into your system. Look for a nice mix of simple and complex carbohydrates, the simple carbs will stem the need to use your muscles as an energy source and the complex carbs will be slowly absorbed keeping your energised for longer. Typical meal could be porridge oats as your slow release mixed with raisens and honey for the simple carbs. Don’t forget a protein shake or protein source in addition.
Next on the list is pre-workout, you need to power your workout for peak performance. Don’t be scared off of carbohydrates, they’re actually essential to growth and are the best fuel for your body. Look at some complex carbohydrates with protein at least an hour before your work out. If you want to give yourself a little kick brew up some black coffee about 30mins before.
Post-workout window needs to be addressed as soon as possible, you’ve just pushed your body to the limits and it should now be crying out for something to begin the repair process. Fast acting protein such as protein shake and some simple carbohydrates should be on the menu here to get things moving fast. About an hour later you should follow this up with a proper meal. Don’t forget to keep hydrated, the body needs a method to transport the nutrients and water is essential in this process.
6. Warm up
Working out with cold muscles is a sure fire way to get injured. 10 minutes is all you need to elevate your heart rate and warm up your muscles. I always like to use example of an elastic band to prove the a point. If you place an elastic band in a freezer for a few hours, take it out and then stretch it you’ll find it’s elasticity has disappeared and enough tension will see it snap, the warmer it is the further it will stretch and can take far more tension before snapping. The same methodology can be applied to our muscles. And when I say warm-up, I mean movement, static stretches are a no-no. Don’t stretch that elastic band until it’s warm!
7. Don’t neglect cardio
Strong cardio vascular muscles help to push your body further and are proven to keep life threatening diseases at bay. Cardio is still one of the best ways to keep your weight in check, so don’t neglect it.
8. Stay hydrated
Not taking in enough fluid can seriously hamper your performance, being hydrated enables your body to delivery minerals and nutrients to the body. Being dehydrated can seriously effect your training efforts and your ability to recover. Everyone is different but on average it’s good to consume around 3-5 litres of water each day. An easy way to remind yourself is to carry a small water bottle everywhere you go. Don’t forget to take your environment into consideration, air conditioning can easily mean you need an additional two litres of water.
9. Always be progressing
Having your training efforts plateau has happened to near enough everyone, the beginning is easy, thee body adapts and it’s proven that the biggest gains will be received early on. Once you’ve become a little more experience the body needs more to stimulate growth and that means tougher workouts. It’s tough, but you have to be constantly progressing, if it’s only a small increase, always look to be doing more than you did last time.