We all want to have the best workout possible when we commit to training. Some days that happens and other days – well, not so much. On the days that don’t go our way, we search for tips and tricks to apply next time so see improvement. Some folks search on message boards, others Google for information that they may not have applied in the past. Hopefully there are one or maybe two things we discover that can help us tomorrow or after our rest day.
Hopefully if you were someone who performed a search and discovered this page then you will pleased because I have not one, not two, but six strategies for you to try. Some you may be familiar with but never applied and some you may have never heard before. That depends on what you have researched in the past. Whether you have heard of them or not, you can be sure that they will make a positive difference on your performance next time you venture to the fitness center or weight room you call your training home.
Specific Warm Up Cardio
It is one thing to get on a treadmill or elliptical and go for five minutes before hitting the weights but I am going to ask you to try something different. Go with something you wouldn’t normally do and you will be surprised how energized you are from doing something new which will give you a mental boost for the onslaught of the weights. Go with something like skipping rope on leg day, the rowing machine on back or shoulder day, performing a couple of rounds with the speed bag (I love doing this on arm day), or even a circuit of machines with light resistance that would target each bodypart for 50 reps each.
A Warm Up Set Before Each Bodypart
Have you ever been so anxious to get a workout going that you just jump straight into the heavy work or quickly fly through a warm up set of 10 or so reps. Give this a try this next time and you will have a whole new appreciation for preparing thoroughly. Before each exercise, do one set of 20 reps and make sure you take your time. You would do this for two reasons. One is so you can concentrate on your form. Second, make sure you feel the muscles working as they should so when you do start your heavy work, you are focused and prepared. The goal for bodybuilders and athletes who aren’t powerlifters should be to train the muscle effectively.
So you’ve started your heavy sets and things are going well but we want this workout to be great. You want to absolutely know that you’ve given your max on every set. To insure this, when you’re at your last rep, squeeze the muscle as long as you possibly can until you can no longer hold the weight in that position. I really like doing this with any bicep exercise and with lateral raises for shoulders.
Once gravity inevitably takes over and the weight starts going down, try your best to work against it for as long as you can before finally finishing the rep and your set. If you can’t control the weight, then you’ll know without any doubt that you gave your all during that set. The eccentric, or negative, portion of the movement is actually when you’ll work on strength the most so don’t avoid this tactic. Embrace it.
Stretch and Flex
I don’t just mean nonchalantly either. Seriously take that short respite between sets and stretch those muscles out with the goal to make room for more nutrient-rich blood to come in and join your pump party. Also make sure you contract the muscles as well. Flexing the muscles on your own without resistance can make a huge difference. Someone famous once said that an unflexed muscle is like an unpolished jewel.
Know Your BCAA’s
No that isn’t typed wrong, You should know your ABC’s by now. I’m talking about Branched Chain Amino Acids. The combination of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine are metabolized directly in the muscle tissue to slow down fatigue and delay muscle breakdown. The result is a supplement that will help you perform in the gym longer and better. Find a good BCAA product with a 2:1:1 ratio of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine so you can sip it throughout your workout and you will be glad you did. I’m sure you can find a good one around…*cough* BCAA Power *cough*.
About the Author
Roger “ROCK” Lockridge is a writer whose work has been seen all over the world. He is most known as a writer for Iron Man Magazine and Bodybuilding.com. In 2009, he was named Bodybuilding.com Male Writer of the Year which along with the Female award is the highest award for writers in the bodybuilding/fitness world.
Roger is also known for his work against child abuse and domestic violence and he was featured as a part of the domestic violence documentary “30” as the only child survivor and the only male survivor in the film.