Today I ate a small but power punched breakfast of cheerios and bananas then dragged my sorry butt to the gym for a workout with my friend. We squeezed as much work as we could into an hour, and we pushed through the soreness and conquered the chest and shoulders. Instead of feeling drained and lifeless, we both felt energized and ready for more if time permitted. It was a great way to start my day and it reminded me of all the successes and mistakes I’ve made since I started lifting when I was 12. Here are some of my takeaways of the gym compiled after years of experience.
DO: Work out in the morning if possible. It leaves you feeling energized for the rest of the day.
DON’T: Leave your workouts for after 8 pm. This can leave you wired at night when your body is trying to power down. Try to complete workouts 3-4 hours before bedtime so you don’t disrupt your sleep cycle.
DO: Drink water while you work out. A few sips here and there will do. Don’t guzzle it. One extreme is you pass out from dehydration and the other is you vomit from too much sloshing around in your stomach. Either way it causes a raucous at the gym, and the last thing you want is unwanted attention.
DON’T: Eat a heavy meal before you work out. This can lead to vomiting, and decreased performance because your body is putting all its energy into digestion instead of working out…NOT GOOD. A light snack like a granola bar or a banana before the gym should carry you through.
DO: Check your form. If it isn’t correct this can lead to injuries, decreased results, and not targeting the correct muscle for the exercise.
DON’T: Over do it. There is a distinct difference between soreness and pain. An easy way is soreness is bilateral and pain is often unilateral. That tight feeling and pain in the muscle belly often comes before the real injury (a strain) Watch for it. If you feel pain..stop the exercise immediately. Over doing it can lead to staleness and disinterest in working out. Here are the signs of overtraining! BEWARE.
DO: Mix it up. Mixing it up can help prevent plateauing in results, staleness, and overtraining. Try different moves targeting the same muscle groups. Play around with sets and reps (ex: try sets to fatigue with lower weight). They can all yield different results.
DON’T: Think that you have to feel sore to have had a good workout. This is a myth. Yes, it’s a good feeling. But all that soreness indicates is that muscle damage has taken place. Not a lot unless you are experiencing pain. The damage is at the micro level. All this means is that a few tiny fibers have torn and they will lay back down thicker than before. This is how muscle forms. But it is not always necessary to gain results. Don’t fixate on it.
DO: Eat a post workout meal. Something light within 20 minutes. Like a protein shake, a granola bar, or an apple w/ PB. Eat a full meal within two hours of your workout. Make sure protein is included. You need it to help recover before your next workout.
DON’T: Skip cardio. Jogging sucks. But once you start building up endurance its not so bad. But if you run for fun I question your sanity.Yes long slow distance cardio can decrease your power output if it’s done everyday. But once a week for recovery is not a problem. The other days of the week do high intensity intervals of running (3-4 laps of jog curve and sprint straightaway on a track) or biking. Also sprints are great for power output (try it twice a week). Start slow with 45 degree turns then progress to 90 then 120 and 180. This will prevent injuries associated with sudden change of direction or cutting maneuvers.
DO: Take rest days. Once or twice a week is necessary. More than that if you are just starting off. It’s for the exact same reason you don’t work the same muscle groups in a row. YOUR BODY NEEDS REST. Do some yoga. Go swimming, hiking, or just plain relax. Your body will thank you, and your brain will too.
What do you guys think? Did I miss any? Should there be a part 2?