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  • Jennifer Bradford

Optimize your workouts to get the most bang for your buck

No one wants to go to the gym and not get anything out of it. Stop wasting time and gains! Check out this list to make sure your workouts and training are maximally effective!

several sized weights

  1. Start with a plan

Don't go to the gym without a plan. Without a structured plan, how will you know if you are progressing in your workouts? How can you continue to progress towards your goal? By having a plan (which exercises, how many sets, and how many reps) in place, you can easily know what you'll be doing that day and be able to see the progress over time.

2. Fuel your body and stay hydrated

Before you even step foot in the gym, make sure you've had a bit of carbs and protein prior for a pre-workout meal. You want your body properly fueled for maximizing your sessions. Don't forget about water, either. Stay hydrated prior, during, and after your workouts.

3. Hype yourself up Not feeling your gym session? Try to find things that excite you and get you pumped up. Maybe it's certain songs. Listen to them prior or while your working out. Maybe you look at old pictures to see how far you've come. Maybe you imagine a friend being with you and encouraging you. Either way, try to get excited for your workout as this can improve your session's success overall.

4. Try not to do intense cardio prior to weights

If you do have cardio planned, do it after lifting. Too much cardio prior can negatively impact your lifts. You might not be able to lift as heavy or do as many reps as you otherwise would have and this can affect your strength/hypertrophy gains over time. Cardio AFTER you lift can be beneficial, so save it for then.

5. Warm up dynamically

Static stretching prior to lifting should be avoided as this can lead to injury. But dynamic stretching (think arm circles prior to shoulder lifts) can help improve your workouts. Just don't spend too much time doing these especially if you are hard pressed for time anyway.

6. Start with compound movements first These are your big movements. Bench press. Squats. Deadlifts. They all use multiple muscle group and joints. I recommend to do these fresh when you are not already fatigued for your best performance. Leave the smaller accessory movements (like bicep curls) for last.

7. Always use proper form

This should go without saying. To get the best out of your workout, always use proper form. This will maximize the exercise's benefits and limit the risk for injury. Think of your lifts as "practice". You are always practicing your form and improving upon them weekly.

8. Lift close to failure Lifting close to failure like 2-3 RIR (2-3 reps left until your muscles cannot contract enough to lift the weight) will ensure that you're working hard enough. This is one way how we build muscles effectively.

9. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else

Don't worry what everyone else is doing in the gym. Don't worry how much someone else can lift or how good you think their butt looks. For real! Focus on you. It's only you vs. you. Nothing else matters!

Do you agree with this list? Would you add anything to it? Let me know!

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