Couple lifting tips.

Showing up, Woody Allen famously said, is 80 percent of success. But let’s be honest: Woody wasn’t heading to the weight room to do battle with the iron. When it comes to lifting, getting to the gym is still crucial, but so is doing quality work while you’re there.

Before you start resorting to a bunch of weird metaphors about plateaus and mesas, try these techniques to make the most of your time in the gym. 

SIP WATER THROUGHOUT THE DAY – Hydration is an often overlooked element of prepping for a workout, but it’s a must—particularly if you train intensely.  You’ll lose roughly 10 percent of your strength from being dehydrated. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can also negatively impact your mood, mental acuity, and energy level.

Many people walk around all day long without realizing they’re in a partially dehydrated state. The best way to avoid this is to make a water bottle a fixture in your life at home, on the road, at work—everywhere. Make sure you’re sipping it throughout the day, so your tank is full when it comes time to train.

PRESS PLAY – If your first stop after rolling out of bed and throwing on some shorts is the gym, you’re probably going to be less than enthusiastic when you pick up your first heavy object of the morning.

Before you get under the bar or hop on the treadmill, give yourself an extra jolt of energy. Put in some headphones and play one of your favorite songs to get you in the zone while warming up on the treadmill for five minutes. Start off with Rob Bailey and the Hustle Standard’s “Hungry.” Listen, and you’ll want to lift.

LIGHTEN THE LOAD – The first thing many people do when they feel a bit weak in the gym is test themselves against a really heavy weight. Maybe they think it’ll kick-start their mojo somehow. Maybe they’re just trying to prove that they still have “it” when their body is feeling whiney. Rather than adding more weight to the bar, try taking a few pounds off. By lightening the weight, you can dial in your technique and pay attention to precisely what’s going on in your body.

Try to feel each muscle contracting as you move through the movement. The more you maintain focus and control during the set, the greater your strength gains will be.

Train this way for a few sessions and you’ll be surprised by your increase in strength and workout quality. Train with your ego holding the wheel, though, and you’ll end up feeling beaten up by sloppy form. 

HAMMER YOUR WEAKNESSES WITH VARIABLE RESISTANCE – People often think they’ve reached their ceiling with big lifts like the bench press, squat, or deadlift, when they’re actually just getting worn down by a certain sticking point in that lift.

This is when a knowledgeable set of extra eyes can come in handy—and don’t be surprised if your helper recommend you dial down the weight and add some extra resistance to the lift in the form of strength bands or chains. Adding chains or resistance bands to your strength training allows you to use a lighter weight and increase your lifting speed so you can push past the plateaus. 

WATCH THE CLOCK – We’re all guilty of it: rest periods that drag on a little longer than they should, eventually becoming chat sessions. There’s nothing wrong with taking a breather between sets, but that’s all it should be.  The longer you allow the muscle to rest, the more pump you lose, and the less momentum you’ll have going into your next set. Make sure your rest break is long enough for you to go on and maintain optimal weight and form, but no longer.


Aspire to Inspire

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