The stars may not always align when it comes to having your very best workout every time you set foot in the gym, however, there are principles you can apply that can create a good level of consistency with your workouts, making them consistently productive.
1) Plan Ahead—write it down
If you are not following a specific exercise program and are not working with a trainer, chances are you are winging it every time you step foot in the gym.
To have a better workout, try mapping out your training week or at least jot down the routine that you would like to do for that day. This may help you eliminate wasted time wandering around, sheer randomness, boredom and quitting early.
The other benefit of having written your routine down is that you can use it to help with planning your workouts for next week by creating some continuity and progressions week to week.
Many studies have identified a strong connection between hydration levels and performance. Even moderate dehydration, has shown to decrease strength by as much as 5%. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 16-20 fluid ounces of water at least four hours before exercise and drinking 8-12 fluid ounces of water 10-15 minutes before exercise.
3) Proper Warm-Up
Jumping right into your workout routine without a proper warm-up is never a good idea. When warmed-up properly, you can decrease stiffness of the muscles and joints and increase blood flow in the body. It can also serve as time to get mentally prepared and present for the workout ahead. A warm-up should last at least 5–10 minutes and be performed at around 40–60% of your working rate. The warm-up should mimic the type of exercise that is to be performed for the workout.
4) The Right Playlist
While scientific research is inconclusive when it comes to identifying if listening to music during a workout can actually increase performance, it has been found that motivational and favorable music can make an uncomfortable situation (like your last few reps or the last mile), slightly more enjoyable. Music creates a pleasurable environmental stimulus—a.k.a good workout vibes. Regardless of whether it makes you stronger, faster or more willing to endure, it definitely let’s people in the gym know that you’re not there to socialize.
5) Pre-Workout Nutrition
What to eat before a workout is probably one of the most commonly asked nutrition questions. The truth is that pre-workout nutrition comes down to personal preference and will vary based on the type of workout (cardio, strength), intensity level, duration and overall training goals of the individual. Below are recommendations that I give to the recreational gym-goer.
Keep it clean. No one feels like working out after a plate of nachos.
Keep it on the small side.
Give your self at least 30-60 minutes to digest.
Have a mix of protein and carbs.