Getting the best out of your training sessions isn’t always easy, but follow these rules and it’ll be a little easier.
You’re in the gym to get some work done. Sure, you have a bunch of people you want to chat to, but that’s for after. Right now, you are in training mode. Don’t be an asshole about it, but get your work done!
I find having earphones in and my training playlists on and turned up (combined with my generally grumpy look, honestly I’m smiling on the inside…) usually stops most people talking to me. I also use my warmup to get “in the zone” and ready to go.
2. Be consistent.
Training once a week just isn’t going to get the job done. It will help minimise loss to an extent but inevitably there is going to be a drop off in all areas of fitness. Your body reacts and adapts to the stimulus you provide, regular training allows you to increase the input (load/reps/ sets) to get better output (muscle gain/ recovery/ strength/ body composition). Once a week isn’t enough, you should be aiming for a minimum of 3 solid sessions a week.
3. Follow a plan.
How many people do you know or see in the gym with a plan in their hands to follow? I’d guess at about 5%. You know what? That 5% will make more improvements in strength, muscle building, power development or any other measureable area than the other 95% combined. A well thought out plan, building towards a goal or goals, will lead you through the minefield of mindless wandering bullsh!t you normally see in the gym.
Find a plan, follow it.
4. Aim to set a PR in at least 1 area every single session.
It doesn’t have to be a massive increase in your deadlift or squat, just aim to improve somewhere in the session. You managed 3×8 on your goblet squats last time? Great! Go for 3×9 this week. Building gradually to whatever you top of the rep range you are working to. I generally prescribe rep ranges for that reason, it gives you an opportunity to build from a minimum rep total to a maximum at which point you are ready to increase the load and repeat the process.
5. Listen to your body.
Most of you know the difference between pushing through tired and achy muscles, and trying to push through actual pain. Do the first, don’t do the second. If you feel the second, back of, get it checked out and come back ready to go.
That doesn’t give you an excuse to quit all together. Most of the time with an injury, you can work your way around it, still get a great training effect and aid the healing process. Just don’t be a dumb ass about it!
6. Get smarter about recovery.
Results don’t happen during the training sessions. The results happen in between the sessions, during your recovery time. This is your rest time, time to work on your mobility, get out for a walk, get a sports massage, whatever else you like to do outside of training.
Tempting as it is, don’t squeeze in all your sessions back to back at the start of the week and go out and have a wild weekend, then go again at the start of the week again. You don’t have enough time to recover between sessions and get the best out of the later sessions.
Spread them out, no more than 2 in a row, at least a day in between. Don’t over think it.
7. Stop comparing yourself the the guy or girl across the room.
You’re in the gym training for you. That’s it. not to compare yourself to Billy Biceps or Brenda Buttcheeks. Youre build is different, your training stage is different, your goals are different. Comparisons will do nothing for you.
I realised this a while back and am reminded often, there are plenty folks in the gym who outperform me on a daily basis, I could worry about not being as strong/ fast/ explosive/ able to down a protein shake as quick as them, but I am stronger and in better shape than i was 6 months ago, so that’s all I care about. And it’s what you should be focussing on too.