The year is almost coming to an end, and you find it hard to believe. To make matters worse, you just realized that, you haven’t met any of those fitness goals you set for yourself earlier in the year. No need to worry though, because there’s still time.
Whether you love it or absolutely hate it with all your might, we can all agree that if you’re going to the gym, the trip should be as beneficial as possible. It doesn’t matter if you’re working out to get rid of the extra weight or working out for mental stability, since we all want to free our minds from the day-to-day stress we go through.
When it comes time to get down to business, however, most people who go to the gym have a natural tendency to just leap right into their workout. But failing to take the necessary steps before starting an intense workout, can lead to long-term injuries like a strained back, runner’s knee, and a pulled or torn hamstring over time. The news good is that by planning ahead and staying warmed up, you’ll have a much more effective workout, be less likely to injure your muscles, and stay focused.
Preparing yourself mentally for a workout can also help when it comes to staying motivated. If you don’t, you’re more likely to give up when the workouts start getting more demanding. So before you start your workout plan for the upcoming months, here are some things you can do to help maximize your time in the gym.
Eat Something Before You Workout: Generally speaking, this method usually comes down to personal preference and figuring out what’s best for your body. However, in this case – if you aren’t fasting or in a rush – eating something small before a workout can improve your overall results.
When you exercise early in the morning, for example, your body’s carbohydrate levels are drained. So eating something as small as a banana, can give your body the extra energy it needs to complete a workout and prevent you from feeling sluggish later on. If you prefer to exercise in the afternoon, make sure you’ve eaten at least 2-3 hours before going to the gym. A simple rule of thumb: if your stomach is making hunger noises (growling), chances are your workout will suffer.
Remember to stay away from foods and snacks that are high in fiber. This could lead to cramps and/or an upset stomach in the middle of a workout.
Do a Warm-Up Specific to Your Workout of the Day: If today’s a cardio day, you know what that means: stretch as much as possible. It also means that throughout the warm-up, you should take the opportunity to introduce your body to your workout for the day.
What does that mean?
It means that if you’re focusing on legs, do exercises and warm-ups that get the legs ready ahead of time. Performing warm-up sets at 40 percent, for instance, not only prevent injuries, but it can also help your body maintain a high-performance level. So if your two big lifts for the day come from squats and lunges, you should do 2 to 3 warm-up sets. By demonstrating the movements ahead of time, your body will be prepared for the workout when heavy weights are added into the mix.
If you plan on squatting 285 pounds, for example, start with 90 pounds first, then make your way to a comfortable 135 and finally, to 285. This technique will allow your body to prepare for the workout ahead of time without jumping right into it.
Create a Health Tracking Plan: The term “health tracking” refers to the collection of information and data that relates to one’s health according to the University of Illinois Chicago.
With that being said, developing a plan before a workout shouldn’t be taken for granted. In fact, if you have a plan – or a schedule for that matter – you’re much more likely to push yourself to finish. On the other hand, if you’re kind of just going to the gym and doing whatever you want, you likely won’t push yourself as much, and just walk around the gym lollygagging. Again, time at the gym should be as beneficial as possible.
Having a plan also means that you can keep track of which muscles groupings you’re working on that for that specific day.
If you aren’t sure what a workout plan should look like, consider reaching out to a trainer or working out with a friend who uses one. If that doesn’t work, you can also try taking group exercise classes to help you challenge yourself even more. Sometimes working out with other people is just what we need to stay motivated.