If you’re just getting started with your fitness journey, or you’re trying to improve the success of your workouts, you need to think about optimizing your gym sessions. Every time you step foot in the gym, your body should be working at its highest level to help you achieve your fitness goals. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, build muscle, or just maintain a healthy physique, the following three tips will help make every gym session effective.
Have a Nutrition Plan
The first step to optimizing your workouts is to have a nutrition plan. Every workout is built in the kitchen. If you don’t have the proper food fueling your body, your muscles won’t be able to work at the most efficient speed and intensity to help you meet your fitness intents.
As such, it’s important to have a handle on your nutrition before you ever step foot into the gym. Make sure you’re eating enough, and make sure the food you’re eating is good for your body. You should have a good, steady source of protein in your diet, whether that comes from meat or something such as vegan protein powder after your workouts.
Along with protein, it’s important not to forget about healthy carbs and fats. While today’s diet culture has turned these macronutrients into a bit of a taboo topic, the simple fact is that your body needs them. Including things like fish, nuts and seeds, and natural oils such as olive oil in your diet will keep your nutrition balanced and healthy to optimize each workout.
Set a Workout Split
The next step to optimizing your workouts is to set up a split. This sounds more complicated than it is. Put simply, setting up a workout split just means that you work out different muscle groups on different days. This works to improve your fitness regimen in two ways.
First, having a split helps to ensure that you don’t overwork any one group of muscles. You won’t overtrain your legs and risk injury, because you have planned rest days where you’ll be training your upper body. Similarly, you’ll run less risk of damaging the tendons in your shoulders because you don’t train them every day.
Second, having a split gives you a game plan for every gym session. If you walk into the gym with no idea of what you’re going to do, chances are you won’t stay for very long, you won’t work as hard, and you’ll leave feeling defeated. On the flip side, if you have a workout split that dictates the general training routine you’ll be doing on a given day, you’ll walk in feeling motivated and determined. Knowing what you’re doing will keep you from overtraining and help you stay on track to hit your fitness goals.
The final way to help optimize your workouts is by recovering properly. Your fitness regimen doesn’t end when you walk out of the gym. If you don’t have a recovery plan for after each gym session, your body will be worn out, and your muscle fibers will be damaged for longer than they need to be.
When you work out, individual muscle strands are torn and rebuilt so they can grow larger. Without a proper recovery routine, these tears won’t heal as fast, leaving you feeling that cliche post-gym soreness for longer than usual.
After you leave the gym, it’s important to stretch out and not go completely still. You should allow your body to rest, but active recovery through yoga, tai chi, or even swimming will help your muscles stretch gently without getting stiff. Additionally, eat foods high in proteins to fuel your body as it repairs the torn muscle fibers from your gym session. The more protein you eat, the easier your recovery time will be. Finally, get some rest. The body heals when it’s sleeping; take a nap and let your muscles rebuild themselves.
Overall, you should be leaving the gym feeling accomplished and proud of yourself. With these three tips, you can ensure that happens every single time.