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10 Tips For Better Workouts You Need To Know

10 Tips For Better Workouts You Need To Know

It’s no secret that a huge part of achieving a great physique is psychological. Yet, in spite of this, gyms everywhere remain choked full of motivated people with mediocre results. The reason for this isn’t stupidity or laziness.  The basic physiological foundations upon which amazing physiques are built have become swamped by masses of irrelevant ‘flavor of the month’ routines and nutri-babble, but few understand the basic science behind what makes one workout better than another.

Here is the golden formula of body recomposition for better workouts that everyone should know:

The ‘Stress > Adaptation’ Cycle (progressive overload)

When we place our bodies under a short term stressor (lifting weights, cardio, sunbathing, etc) our bodies assume that stressor is now going to become a regular event and adapts (grow more resistant) so that next time, we’ll cope a little better. The problem is, if we apply the same stressor (same intensity) that we’ve already adapted to, it won’t stress us; therefore, we won’t adapt and we stagnate.

Just by being conscious of this golden rule when training will improve your workouts exponentially. Here are 10 practical tips to best exploit this formula. By following these tips, your progress will sky rocket and your workouts will become much more rewarding, efficient, and energized.

1. Track Your Progress

notebook

    How much can you bench press and for how many reps? You should know the answer to this question for every single exercise you do every time you enter the gym.

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    How can you possibly improve on last week’s workout if you don’t know exactly what you did? This is absolutely vital and the biggest time wasting mistake I see people make. Get a notebook, an excel spread sheet or write it down in your phone. Always improve on your last workout even if it’s by a single rep.

    Remember: stress > adaptation cycle is the most important thing.

    2. Do Warm-Up Sets

    There are two types of sets in a good workout: warm up sets and work sets.

    Most people enter the gym stiff and cold and get straight under the bar to do their ‘work set’.  Not only is this potentially dangerous but it makes using good form much more difficult. The typical warm up sets are 20%, 40% and 80% of your work set. So if you plan on doing sets with 100kg your warm up sets would be 20kg, 40kg and 80kg. These don’t count, and should not be a workout unto themselves.

    Warm up sets also allow you to practice good form with a less challenging weight. Lifting weights is a skill, even the best power lifters in the world are always tweaking and improving.  Do a few warm up sets for the big movements. They become less important as the workout goes on as you’ll be more warmed up.

    3. Use the 80/20 Principle

    Many people spend too much time focusing on miscellaneous isolation exercises and wonder why they’re not making progress. The best exercise for core isn’t crunches, but squats. Full body workouts should be your goal and three full body workouts per week is plenty.

    You can literally use these four exercises for years (as long as you use the golden rule) and get an amazing physique: deadlifts, bench press, squats, and chin ups. These are all compound movements (work multiple muscles) and so you’ll get the most bang for your buck and ensure your whole body is developed without any inconsistencies.

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    4. Don’t Mix Weights and Cardio

    Their are only three types of people who can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time: complete (and often overweight) beginners, people who take anabolic steroids and people who progress at an snails pace.

    Don’t listen to anyone who uses phrases like ‘turning fat into muscle’ because the body doesn’t work that way. Decide what your focus is, fat loss, muscle gain or maintaining weight while getting stronger. Then put all of your focus into this while minimizing the negative side effects. If you’re trying to gain muscle then you can throw in a cardio session once a week to minimize any unwanted fat gain and if you’re trying to lose fat, it’s important to keep doing weight training to minimize muscle loss.  But really, 80% of healthy fat loss comes down to diet manipulation. Dedicate a chunk of time to one thing then feel free to change goals every other six months.

    5. Have Intra-Workout Carbs

    milk and cookies

      Usually as a tough workout progresses, energy levels go down, willpower levels deplete and strength declines.  While the physical aspects of this are natural, you become less ‘fresh’ as the workout progresses and the psychological factors are often the most damaging.

      Take a few sweets, a carb drink, or a small chocolate bar half way through your workout. You’ll feel more physically energized and the glucose will revamp your willpower and muscles. Having an intra-workout carb also increases the likelihood that you’ll complete all of your reps on the last exercise of the workout.

      6. Get a Training Partner

      training partner bench press

        Many people accomplish wonders while training alone, but with the right training partner, you’ll have the edge.

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        Training partners are great for motivation and for providing assistance on the more dangerous free weight exercises. You’re much more likely to go harder if you’re being watched and will find it much harder to come up with excuses not to do dead lifts and chin ups. Train with like-minded, passionate people to get maximum results.

        7. Take Longer Rest Intervals

        stop watch

          Most people prefer the feeling of having done a workout over the feeling of working out itself. Because of this, they rush through it, desperate to get to the other side.

          It’s easy to confuse what intuitively feels like a good workout with what is actually a good workout. Although taking shorter rest intervals feels more taxing on our bodies, studies have shown that a 3-5 minute rest period between sets and exercises is optimal for muscle and strength gains. Time yourself a few times to get an idea of how long three minutes is then use common sense. The only thing that matters is improving on your last workout, if you’re too fatigued, this will be impossible.

          8. Design a Music Playlist

          rockleftmyheadphones

            Shakespeare said ‘music has charms to soothe the savage beast,’ I say it depends on the music. In the gym, at times you’ll want to be a savage beast.

            Stay away from soothing music and spend the time designing a playlist that amps you up and gets you motivated. The ease of manipulating digital media has never been more straight forward. Take advantage of this tool. Every time you do your set, you must switch your focus on. It’s easier to do that if you switch your music on first.

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            9. Take a Caffeine Pill (or Drink Coffee)

            cup of coffee

              Studies have show that a 200mg caffeine pill (equivalent to three cups of coffee) improves workouts and reduce muscle soreness the next day.

              It’s also safe and much cheaper than branded pre-workout drinks which contain caffeine as their most active ingredient anyway. Caffeine also suppresses appetite, so not only do you get all the benefits of a pre-workout supplement, but you also get a fat loss supplement, if that happens to be your goal. (See tip 4)

              10. Take Creatine Monohydrate

              There are lots of myths surrounding creatine monohydrate encompassing topics such as loading phases, off phases, types of brand, and liver and kidney failure.

              Firstly, creatine is absolutely safe and is one of the most effective extensively studied workout supplements in existence. The way it works is by saturating the muscles with a substance called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is naturally occurs at low doses in animal foodstuff. Creatine doesn’t magically grow muscles and strength. It increases the amount of reps you’re able to perform in a given workout, thus exploiting the stress > adaptation cycle and helping your body develop faster. Without going to the gym, creatine does nothing.

              You don’t need to load it or have off days as some people think. Just take 3 grams if you’re skinny, 4 grams if your average and 5 grams if your muscular, every single day. It takes about three weeks to saturate your muscle 100%. From then on, you keep taking it to top up. Get the cheapest brand but just make sure it says ‘monohydrate.’

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              Last Updated on September 16, 2019

              How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

              How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

              You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

              We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

              The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

              Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

              1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

              Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

              For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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              • (1) Research
              • (2) Deciding the topic
              • (3) Creating the outline
              • (4) Drafting the content
              • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
              • (6) Revision
              • (7) etc.

              Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

              2. Change Your Environment

              Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

              One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

              3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

              Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

              Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

              My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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              Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

              4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

              If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

              Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

              I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

              5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

              I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

              Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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              As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

              6. Get a Buddy

              Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

              I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

              7. Tell Others About Your Goals

              This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

              For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

              8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

              What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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              9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

              If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

              Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

              10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

              Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

              Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

              11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

              At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

              Reality check:

              I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

              More About Procrastination

              Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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