Train Smarter

Train Smarter

Eleven tactics to get better results from each workout

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How you approach a workout – from the way you order your exercises to how you breathe, to what you’re thinking while you train – is as crucial to improving your fitness as the actual moves you do. Make small, strategic changes and you can boost your performance without working any harder. Here’s what I do to maximize each session and stay challenged.

  1. Plan out your fuel
    1. I grab a drink to rev up my metabolism before I train, another to repair my muscles after. Right now, that’s a pre-workout BCAA and a whey protein shake right after I finish.
  2. Start with the “cant’s”
    1. Force yourself to first do the exercises your avoid. Choose one per workout and give it your all for five minutes. Make that right after you have warmed up, so you have full energy and power. I guarantee you will find that by putting in just a little work, you actually can do a dozen pull-ups or 100-meter sprint repeats.
  3. Focus on your weak side
    1. To fix muscle imbalances, start a move on your weaker leg or arm (often your non dominant side) and put in a extra couple of reps.
  4. Go hard enough to fail
    1. At least once a week, pick an exercise and push yourself until you can’t do more reps, weight, or time. Hitting failure will break down your muscle fibers more – but encourage your body to get stronger, faster.
  5. Visualize the muscle
    1. Picture your lats firing as you row or your glutes engaging during a squat and your brain will signal your nervous system to recruit more muscle fibers for the movement.
  6. Breathe
    1. When you lift, inhale as you begin a rep; exhale as you finish it. The inhale tightens your core to help you brace against lifting the weight, and the exhale creates momentum to push through the movement.
  7. Get on the ball
    1. A stability ball adds a balance challenge that forces your muscles to work harder during any move. My go-to: lying on the ball with feet planted on the floor for dumbbell chest presses. Close your eyes to make it harder.
  8. Address aches as you go
    1. When I work out, I use a foam roller, lacrosse ball, or even the handle of a kettlebell to knead tight muscles. Doing this while you train helps your push harder, eases next-day soreness, and prevents injury.
  9. Prime your body for sleep
    1. You won’t see fitness gains if you’re not hitting six-plus hours a night. Period. To sleep sounder, I take daily magnesium supplements. These minerals help your muscles relax and fights insomnia, and most men don’t get enough of it through food alone.
  10. Be exact in your schedule
    1. Plot workouts so that you never do back-to-back days of high-intensity intervals, body-crushing lifts, or ling runs. You want your intensity level to be constantly up and down.
  11. No time? Do this
    1. A burpee targets every major muscle group. Boosts your cardio endurance, and burns some 14 calories a minute. For a lightning workout, do 12 every minute for five minutes straight. Brutal – but effective.
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