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.
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.
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.
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.