7 quick ways to make the most of your gym sessions

 

1. Follow a plan

Ever rocked up at the gym & wondered what you’re going to do today? Create a plan in advance & stick to it. If you’re stuck for ideas, try following the reps & sets in some of my many workout logs. If you’re still stuck for ideas or aren’t sure how to do a certain exercise from one of my logs, just YouTube it and there’s bound to be a tutorial.

I also get a lot of workout ideas from YouTube too – just find a person that inspires or motivates you, find them on YouTube and copy their workout routines,

I’d recommend writing a plan that lets you target each muscle group in a 1 week period. So if you gym 3 days a week, create a plan like this:

  • Day 1: Back & Biceps + a bit of abs/core work
  • Day 2: Chest & Triceps + a bit of abs/core work
  • Day 3: Legs & shoulders + a bit of cardio

If you can gym 4 days a week, try something like this:

  • Day 1: Back + abs/core work
  • Day 2: Biceps & triceps
  • Day 3: Chest & sholders + abs/core work
  • Day 4: Legs + cardio

If you’re motivated enough to gym as often as I do, then you can do a different muscle group each day;

  • Day 1: Back
  • Day 2: Biceps & triceps
  • Day 3: Shoulders
  • Day 4: Legs
  • Day 5: Chest
  • Day 6: Cardio & abs/core work

 

2. Track your workouts (or at least, your PBs)

While you don’t have to log every single exercise of every single session (like I do) if you don’t want to, I’d certainly recommend writing down your PB’s (Personal Bests). For example, if you could only barbell-curl a 10kg barbell 12 times last week, but this week you managed to curl it 13 times, then that’s a PB (presuming you’ve never been able to curl a 10kg barbell 13 times previously, of course).

A great way to do this is to open Google Keep on your phone and do it in there. Before starting an exercise, check what you did last time and then try & beat it. I If you managed to do so, update your PB. Easy!

 

3. Increase something each session

Every time you do a particular exercise in the session, increase something each time you do the workout. Things you can increase include the following; pick one and see if you can get some gains here. Try a different one each time to keep things interesting…

  • Increase the reps: Simply doing one extra rep can make all the difference to your results and can also provide great motivation.
  • Increase the weight: Add a little extra weight each time. It might be as simple as going up to the next dumbbell or weight plate… or adding an extra weight plate.
  • Increase the squeeze / hold: At the top of the rep, hold & squeeze a little longer than last time (see #6 below).
  • Increase the time: Last week, you may have curled a barbell at a tempo of 1 second up, 1 second down. This week, try 1 second up, 2 seconds down, for example.

Don’t stress if you don’t make gains every session – it’s normal to occasionally lift the same as last time (or sometimes even go backwards). If this continues, it might be time to change your workout (see #4 below).

The aim is to be sore the day after (sore in a good way; not “oops, I pulled a muscle” sore!). If you’re not even a little bit sore, work a little bit harder next time or change something (see #4 below).

 

4. Change your workout every 6 weeks

Every 6 or so weeks, change all of your workout plans. This could be as simple as replacing at least half of your exercises with different ones, and randomising or re-ordering the remaining ones. You might, for instance, do 12-15 reps of everything for one exercise plan – and then change this to be 6-8 reps a few weeks later (increasing the weight, obviously).

 

5. Focus on form

Use proper form. If you’re not sure, ask a PT or staff member at the gym to show you or watch a tutorial on bodybuilding.com or a similar fitness website. Hurling weights up & down will only lead to injuries down the track, strange stares from fellow gym-goers or damage to equipment.

For your last set, or for drop-sets, it’s often OK to be less-strict on the form side of things, as you’re just pumping out extra reps to get every last ounce of energy from your muscles. If you leave the gym knowing you could have done more, go back inside and do a drop set (see #6, below)

 

6. Hold & squeeze

At the top of the exercise (the bit where the muscles are working hardest) hold and SQUEEZE! This is very important as it’ll allow muscle growth through small tears in the muscle fibre (in a good way – this is how you build muscle!). You’ll likely also get a good pump from this 😉

 

7. Drop-set your last sets

Your last set of the session should be a drop-set to failure. This means doing an exercise until you can pretty much not do any more… then drop the weight and go again. Repeat this until you’re at the lowest setting on the machine, or lightest dumbbell / barbell.

 

BONUS: Get plenty of water, rest & protein

Drinking lots of water & getting rest (ie. plenty of sleep) are very important for recovery. Ensure you eat a lot of protein, too – and eat well! No junky sugary / fatty foods. You can read more about the importance of protein here.

 

Got a tip to share?

Leave me a comment below! 🙂

 

TL;DR

Don’t be a lazy shit – read the article. Lazy people don’t make gains! 😛

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