You work hard at the gym, right? You want to see those gains, you know you truly deserve. But it seems like there’s something missing. Like a good steak, lacking a pinch of spice to taste really great, or being a few hundred dollars short of paying for a dream car. Well, that final push may come from a few adjustments you need to make. Here are 7 easy tips to improve your workout.
Slow Yet Steady. You want a steady supply of energy throughout your workout and the day. The best way to do that is to eat slow-digesting carbs, sometimes referred to as complex carbs. Eating such carbs—like whole wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, fruit—provide energy without the insulin level spike and allows more efficient fat burning during the course of the day.
No fatty meals. This seems obvious. But it not just fat itself that’s bad. It’s the fact that eating too much fat, especially on a regular basis, restricts the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels, which promotes more blood flow to muscles and better performance. If you’re going to eat fat, do so in the form of healthy ones like olive or canola oil. However, don’t overdo it. Too much is always a bad thing. If you can’t avoid eating a high fat meal, give your body 3-4 hours to shrug off the effects before doing your workout.
Hurray for Whey. A byproduct of cheese production, whey was usually snubbed. Until people realized its benefits. Whey is one of the proteins found in milk. It’s a rich source of amino acids. But what makes whey protein critical is its fast digestion rate. In around half an hour, your body can digest whey and distribute its nutrients and amino acids to your muscles to fast track muscle growth and recovery.
Take whey protein supplements before and after a workout. The ideal amount is 20 grams. By the way, check the label. Some brands have a formulation which is high in sugar, calories and even cholesterol. You obviously do not want that.
Be Specific. Like in sports, the more specific your gear is, the better. You don’t expect to be a great tennis player while using a badminton racquet, right? Same applies to working out. Wear actual gym shoe and not trainers or basketball shoes. You can try a good Italian brand like Diadora shoes. Its shoes are good for the gym—good support, cushioning and traction—and is quite affordable. Online shops carry Diadora shoes. But choose a trusted online shop to be sure of authentic products. Who knows, you might even encounter an offer or two to help you save a few bucks.
Also, wear good fitting—not baggy or incredibly tight—clothes. Technical wear is the best because of its light, durable and sweat-wicking fabric. Get good workout accessories too.
Pound it with Compound. Time is always an issue when you work out. Because, let’s face it, outside of the gym you do have a life. Make the most of the time and promote better muscle growth by performing compound exercises. These are exercises target several muscles groups in one go, examples include horizontal pushes and pulls, deadlifts, dumbbell or barbell squats and pull-ups.
Mix up Your Rep Speed. According to research, people who did fast reps became stronger because their ‘fast-twitch’ muscle fibers were trained better. However, slow-rep people gained more muscle mass because of the prolonged exposure to microtrauma. If you’re thinking of going ‘eeny-meeny-miny-mo’ on how to do your workout, you don’t have to. Just mix it up. Not in one routine, though, that would burn you out. Try a fast rep routine for a week, then a slow one the next.
Get Some TLC. Exercise is a stressor. Add your regular work routine and that’s a lot of stress in a day. A trip to the sauna or a massage can ease the stress level and promote better muscles recovery and growth. Yes, muscles need TLC too and they’ll be more than ready for the next grind after a good pampering.
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