You’re hitting the gym on a regular basis, but you need to ask yourself, are you really doing all that you can to see maximum results?
If the progress you’ve made could be called mediocre at best, it might be time to ask yourself, what else could you be doing? Sometimes, all it takes is a small tweak here and there and you can get on track to both performing and looking much better.
Let’s take a quick look at six things that you can do that will help you get more from each workout you perform.
Focus On Your Breathing
Think about the last time you completed a set of squats, bench press, or rows. What did your breathing pattern look like? Can’t remember? You aren’t alone. Most people who hit the gym are so focused on lifting the weight and getting to the end of the set they forget to stop and consider how they’re breathing during this time.
Regulating your breathing is a must. Not only will this help ensure the muscles are getting enough oxygen as they continue with the set, thus increasing your endurance, but it can also help boost your overall strength output as well.
Remember to breath out during the contraction phase of the exercise and in during the return to the starting position.
At first it will take a very focused effort to get your breathing pattern’s right, but the more often you focus on this, the more second-nature it will become.
For more on breathing, check out this video:
Concentrate On The Muscle Squeeze
The second thing you must be doing is ensuring you’re focusing on the muscle squeeze itself. At the top of each contraction, really squeeze that muscle as hard as you possibly can. It’s this squeeze that will help you generate maximum tension in those muscle tissues, thus rendering the best possible results.
By focusing n the muscle squeeze, you’ll also help ensure that you are working primarily the muscles that you are targeting instead of calling other muscle groups into play.
The mind-muscle connection is a very powerful thing when it comes to seeing fitness results and most people don’t have it. If you are just ‘going through the motions’, you need to slow down and really think about exactly how you are working out.
See how this pro contracts her muscles through each rep she's doing.
Lighten The Weight
Sometimes, the best thing you can do to see better results is lighten the weights. Sound counterintuitive? Chances are up until this point, your main mission has been to increase the weight you lift as often as possible. Now I’m telling you to lighten the weight? – What gives?
The reason lightening the weight can help is because first, it helps ensure that you use good form. Without proper form, results will be slow if non-existent. Plus, you’ll put yourself at risk of injury.
Second, lightening the weight can also help you develop superior mind-muscle connection as well, thus allowing you to see better overall results.
When people try and lift too heavy, you’ll end up simply using momentum to carry you through the exercise as you try and contract as many muscles as possible to get that movement pattern going.
Lighten up. Focus on the squeeze. Do the exercise correctly. This is what will yield maximum results.
Be Mindful Of Your Rest Time
Rest times should be monitored just as the total number of reps you do per set. Don’t let your rest times linger. If you are supposed to rest for 30 seconds, keep your rest to 30 seconds.
Likewise, if you need to rest for 2 minutes because you are doing a max out set of squats, give yourself that two minutes for rest.
How long you rest will play a key role on the metabolic response you get from your workout, so this could really determine how much of a fat burning effect that workout has. If you want to see optimal fat loss results, you’ll want to keep those rest periods on the short side so you get that post-exercise metabolic boost.
On the flip side, if your goal is to build muscle mass and strength, you’ll need to rest longer to ensure that your muscles make a good recovery and you can keep challenging yourself with heavier weight loads.
Remember that rest is relative to your goals. There is no one-size fits all approach, so evaluate your program and what it is that you want out of your sessions. What is the end result that you hope to see to feel like that workout was successful?
Here is more info on rest times when weight lifting.
Take A Pause
Another technique that you can start doing in your workout program to see faster results is to take a brief pause at the top of each move. We’re talking a one-count here. For instance, as you squat down, pause and count to one at the bottom of the rep. Then press up.
As you do your push-ups, pause for a brief moment at the very bottom when you’re almost touching the ground. Then press up.
Do this for any exercise you’re doing and you’ll instantly feel a higher overall state of fatigue as you go through each lift.
Do One Warm-Up Set
Finally, don’t neglect your warm-ups. It’s important to do one warm-up of set of all the major compound lifts you do, especially the first two or so exercises of the workout session.
This warm-up does more than simply get the blood flowing to the muscle tissues. It’s also going to help you gain that mind-muscle connection and get all the muscles that you are trying to work activated.
This way, when you do go for your max-out set, you’ll be able to push harder, lifting more weight and seeing greater strength gains.
Never let yourself believe that warm-ups are a waste of time. They’re anything but.
So there you have the main things to apply to your workout program to help ensure that you see maximum results. Are these currently a part of your own workout routine?