If you have all the time in the world to spend at the gym, there is no need to read further. However, if like most of us, you have a busy schedule and other things to do, you may want to learn how to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your limited gym time. Gym workouts represent an investment of your valuable time, and the following tips will help you maximize the benefits of your investment.
- Find a workout partner – A good gym partner will help you get the most out of your workouts. Your gym partner will not only act as a spotter, but also be able to provide input on your mechanics. Often, as we work near the limits of our strength, we use poor form, which can lead to injury or inefficient use of our effort (aka cheating). The worst way to waste your cumulative gym efforts is to sustain an injury which will lead to extended time away from the gym. A good partner will also provide motivation on those days you feel like loafing through your workout. We all have days where our energy level just isn’t where we would like it to be. Your partner will be there to help get you pumped up and get you to raise your effort level to make every minute at the gym count.
- Feed and rest the machine – Your weight training program should not end once you leave the gym. On the contrary, your muscles grow during the repair process after your workouts have ended. It is supremely important to have proper nutrition and rest to maximize your workouts. During the “golden hour” immediately after your workout, it is important to have a meal or shake in order to aid in recovery and replenish your body’s spent glycogen (the carbohydrates your body stores in muscles for energy). Your meal or shake should contain carbohydrates and lean protein. The carbohydrates will replace the glycogen you expend during your workout, and the protein will provide the building blocks for muscle growth. In addition to proper nutrition, proper rest is vital to maximizing your strength training. Overtraining your muscles represents an imbalance between recovery and training. There is a fine line between working hard at the gym and overtraining. Maximizing your gym time means allowing for adequate rest time for your muscles to repair and grow. Overtraining represents a lot of wasted effort and gym time. A rule of thumb is to train the same muscle groups no more than three days a week and not on consecutive days.
- Change it up – Your muscles become accustomed to the same old movements over time. This is the primary reason many people experience plateaus in strength training. If you want to maximize your strength training efforts, you should periodically vary your workout routines. Varying your workout routines can include changing the types of exercises as well as the load (weight), reps, sets, and even the order of your exercises. Doing so will create muscle confusion and lead to greater gains.