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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 July 3, 2020

              How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

              How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

              Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life. To control your thoughts means to influence the way you live your life.

              Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affects your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality)

              I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive, and just a general waste of energy.

              You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

              Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Be someone who can control your thoughts—become the master of your mind.

              When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

              I currently have a few thoughts that are not of my choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

              Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

              Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in control of your thoughts.

              If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

              Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create unhealthy and unproductive thoughts.

              1. The Inner Critic

              This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

              • Other people’s words—many times your parents
              • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples’ expectations
              • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media
              • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

              The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance, and lack of self-love.

              Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is youwhy else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

              2. The Worrier

              This person lives in the future—in the world of “what ifs.”

              The Worrier is motivated by fear, which is often irrational and has no basis. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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              3. The Reactor or Troublemaker

              This is the one that triggers anger, frustration, and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

              This person can be set off by words or feelings and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

              The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control. He is run by past programming that no longer serves you—if it ever did.

              4. The Sleep Depriver

              This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

              The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

              • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
              • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
              • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity, and generalized anxiety
              • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

              How can you control these squatters?

              How to Master Your Mind

              You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You can control your thoughts, but you must pay attention to them so you can identify “who” is running the show—this will determine which technique you will want to use.

              Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

              There are two ways to control your thoughts:

              • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
              • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

              This second option is what is known as peace of mind.

              The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go-to” thoughts in applicable situations.

              Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

              1. For the Inner Critic

              When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

              You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

              For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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              You can also have a dialogue with yourself to discredit the ‘voice’ that created the thought—if you know whose voice it is:

              “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

              If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready.

              This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

              • They rile up the Worrier.
              • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
              • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
              • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
              • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

              Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

              Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

              2. For the Worrier

              Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally, and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

              Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind, and creates anxiety in the body. This may make it more difficult for you to control your thoughts effectively.

              You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

              • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
              • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
              • Muscles tense

              Use the above-stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time, you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

              If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

              Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

              “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

              Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense. Both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

              If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

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              Now, take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like! Do it until you feel that you’re close to being in control of your thoughts.

              Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

              For example: If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

              “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place.

              Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

              Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

              “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

              Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

              3. For the Troublemaker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

              Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers. But until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

              The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain.

              I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

              Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds—just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

              Breathe in through your nose:

              • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
              • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
              • Focus on your belly rising.

              Breathe out through your nose:

              • Feel your lungs emptying.
              • Focus on your belly falling.
              • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

              Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize. Now, you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior, and you’ll be more in control of your thoughts.

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              One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

              Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

              4. For the Sleep Depriver

              (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher, and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

              I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

              Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

              1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
              2. Then I came up with a replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

              When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and thoughts, and I choose quiet.

              From the first time I tried this method, I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

              For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (closed, of course). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

              If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

              You can also use this technique any time you want to:

              • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon
              • Shut down your thinking
              • Calm your feelings
              • Simply focus on the present moment

              The Bottom Line

              Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or destructive purposes.

              You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable, and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

              Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. You can be in control of your thoughts. The choice is yours!

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              Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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