3 Tips To Make The Most Of Your Workout
Author - Stephen Griffith C.S.C.S. Pn1
I work with lots of amazing people. There not athletes or models, whose lives revolve around the gym. They’re just normal people with families, jobs, and obligations.
For them the gym is a means for keeping them lean and healthy so that they can give the most to their family, their jobs, and their hobbies.
To be the best for those around them they didn’t need to be in the gym two hours every day.
In fact, just two or three hour long sessions a week were enough to make a huge impact in helping them to have more energy, move better, reducing pain, and improving body composition.
While they were only in the gym 2 to 3 hours a week, what was important is that they made the most of each workout.
In this article I will go over 3 tips to help you make the most of your own workout.
Be ready to workout
Maximizing your workout starts by showing up ready to work.
If you show up tired and hungry you’re going to have a bad workout.
If during your workout your day-dreaming about the idea of Idris Elba playing James Bond - your not having your best workout.
Making the most of your workout requires you to show up mentally and physically ready to work.
Tips for Being Physically Prepared
Get an adequate nights sleep. Aim for 8 hours and to get quality uninterrupted sleep.
Eat well and be well nourished. Pre-workout nutrition will vary person to person but as a general rule, you don’t want to eat anything too heavy within an hour or 2 of your workout. If your hungry or low on energy grab a piece of fruit and/or a caffeinated beverage such as tea or coffee - avoid the red bulls.
Begin your workout with a gradual warm-up. A warm up gets the blood flowing, and prepares the muscles and body for exertion.
Your warm-up should resemble your workout. It shouldn’t just be 10 minutes on the treadmill. Instead use a variety of dynamic movement that prepares your body for the upcoming session. If your going to squat or bench consider throwing in some body weight squats or push ups into your warm up.
For example, during my last workout my warm up followed the following blueprint. General foam rolling, prepping of the joints, and then some active body weight exercises to prepare the body for the upcoming workout.
Ankle Mobility Drill
Hip Mobility Drill
Core Engagement Drill
Thoracic Mobility Sequence
Dynamic Warm up - Including Squats, lunges, push ups, active and passive hanging
Tips for Being Mentally Prepared
Where the mind goes the body follows. You must be mentally prepared and engaged in order to make the most of what your body is capable of on that day.
Mental preparation starts by knowing your why.
A strong why will be what motivates you when you’re not in the mood.
So ask yourself - Why do you want to workout?
Now the temptation will be to respond with a general superficial answer such as - because I want to lose weight.
You can do better than that. Keep asking yourself why.
Why do you want to lose weight?
Because I want to look better.
Why is that important? Keep asking till you find the root. When your tired and don’t want to continue it won't be the “I want to lose weight” that will help you continue. It will be that “ I want to lose this weight because I want my wife to find me physically attractive” that will push you through those hard final reps.
Your why provides a general motivation for your actions, next is channeling that to your day to day motivation. Every workout should have a clear goal. When you wake up you should know what the goal is for that day. This will provide purpose and focus your mind for when you hit the gym.
Next is ensuring that you are mentally focused when it’s workout-o-clock.
In sports psychology there's a concept called the zone of optimal arousal. To make the most of your workout you want to be in this state where you are not over aroused nor under-aroused.
Side note - when I say aroused I don’t mean sexually but mentally. Think of a good
If your under-aroused you will have trouble mustering the energy to really push yourself. If your over aroused you will have trouble focusing all that energy.
Before the workout figure out where you are. Maybe you had a stressful day at work and you’re overstimulated. If so you’d want to start your warm up with something soothing such as some breathing and stretching drills. Something to bring you down.
If you find yourself under stimulated then you need to get yourself psyched up. You may want to have a little sugar in the form of fruit or listen to some uptempo music to get you psyched up.
Have a Plan and Execute
“Failure to plan is planning to fail”
At Fitness Made Clear we speak a lot about the two modes - execution mode and decision mode.
We always want our clients to be in execution mode. This is where they know what to do and are simply executing and taking action.
When most people go to the gym they’re in decision mode. They go to the gym without a plan. When they walk on the gym floor they find themselves overwhelmed by the number of choices and options. What exercise should I do? How long should I do it for? how many sets? how many reps? Ect. ect.
When they finally figure that out and finish the exercise they then have to do it all over again.
The result is they waste time and precious energy figuring out what to do instead of actually doing it.
Besides wasting time and energy, every decision you have to make becomes an opportunity to fall prey to human natures such as doing the exercises we feel most comfortable with, not working out as intensely, or cutting the workout early when you feel tired.
The result is poor workout after poor workout. These poor workouts lead to a lack of progress and a lack of progress leads to demotivation and before you know it the gym was just a phase.
When working with clients I want to avoid this. I don’t want them in decision mode but in execution mode.
When you're in execution mode your no longer making choices. You have a plan, you know what you're supposed to do, and you execute.
This plan is called a training program.
A Training Program is what bridged the gap between present you and future you.
To understand how a training program works check out
Want to stop wasting times on decisions and start taking action? Check out one of our coaching programs were our coaches will provide you with the direction, accountability and feedback you need to see results that last.
The workout log is a person’s most effective piece of equipment for seeing progress.
A workout log is a place to
Keep your training plan and program
To log in each of your workouts. Allowing you to see improvements over time and set goals from session to session.
To track other measurements such as weight and body composition.
A workout log helps to keep you accountable. It provides a clear plan of what you should be doing each workout. It allows you to see progress keeping you motivated. It gives you a goal to beat for the next workout and it provides a log for you to see what works best for you and what doesn’t.
Without a log your just guessing. Your guessing which weights you did. Your guessing whether your seeing progress and your guessing what exercises are working and which aren't
A workout log can be an expensive journal, a notebook from the dollar store, a spreadsheet or just printing the PDF above. - Link to print can be found in my article Zero to One - A Beginners Program for Success
What you use doesn’t matter as long as you can use it to keep track of your progress.
Your results are not based on how much time you spend in the gym but rather on how you use that time.
If you show up mentally and physically ready to workout, with a smart plan you will consistently be able to make the most of your workouts.
You will see better results and have more time to spend on the other things that make your life worth living.