Lifting weights can be hard work, whether you’re a man or a woman. It’s so important to make sure you’re getting the most out of your lifting sessions. It’s no good simply going to the gym, heading straight for the weights section, leaving, and then sabotaging yourself at home. There are a few things you need to do before and after so that you can get the best results in the most satisfactory timeframe. For some reason, people get slow results or no results and think that something is wrong. Maybe they have a slow metabolism? Maybe there’s a magical pill they aren’t taking? Nope! Chances are, you’re not doing something listed here. Read on to learn more:
Make Sure You’re Warming Up Properly
Warming up properly is absolutely key to ensuring that you’re getting the most of your lifting sessions. Many people make the mistake of thinking that a simple stretch is enough to warm up before a lift, but it isn’t! A more dynamic warm up is needed to get the best from your workout.
You could potentially go for a light jog or use a stationary bike/treadmill before your workout. Anywhere from 5-10 minutes is sufficient enough to get your blood pumping and warm up the body. Once you’ve done that, you can perform some bodyweight exercises, targeting the body part or parts you’re going to be working out. Then all you need to do is start out with a light weight for around 2 sets before going into your working sets! It shouldn’t take you long and it’ll help you so much in the long run.
Go For Form Over Weight
You’ll see many people in the gym swinging weights purely through momentum, rather than strength. Much of the time, their form will not be great. If your form is off but your weight is heavy, not only will you not get what you’re supposed to from the exercise, you run the risk of hurting yourself pretty seriously. Always, always go for form over weight. The only time it’s OK for your form to wobble slightly is if you’re on the last few reps of an exercise and the weight is challenging you. However, you should not be sacrificing form completely.
If you’re unsure of form, you must make sure you ask a PT, or even make sure you watch lots of YouTube videos before your workout so you’re sure of what you should be doing. The exercise should not be hurting, and you should be able to do ‘full reps’. If you can only lift the weights slightly, for instance, half squats, then you need to go lighter.
Keep Your Rest Times Short
Keeping your rest times short will keep your heart rate elevated, help you to get your workout done quickly, and likely give you better results. There are exceptions to this. For instance, if you’re doing the absolute heaviest you can possibly do (like in a weightlifting class) then you could have up to 2 minutes rest. However, it’s a good idea to keep many rest periods 45 seconds to one minute long. For some, you may even want to keep it to 30 seconds!
Make Sure You’re Eating To Support Your Goals
Eating to support your goals is a must. Some people can go home, eat a whole pizza and still see results. However, just because your fitspo does it doesn’t mean you can. You should make sure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet with a few treats here and there for the best results. Trying to eat 100% clean is not always realistic, and many people do better with a more balanced mentality.
Stretch It Out After A Session
After your session, make sure you take the time to stretch. Even a little stretching should help you to feel better in the following days and get better results. If you don’t already know, find out how to stretch hip flexors and do that after a leg session. You’ll stretch muscles deep in your hips and it’ll help with flexibility. Try to do this every time, as so many people forget and suffer in the future because of it!
Drink BCAAs And Track Your Protein Intake
BCAAs are not necessary. There aren’t many supplements that are. However, BCAAs can give you a slight energy boost, and help to reduce your soreness after certain sessions. Many people like to drink them during their workouts, but you can also drink them throughout the day.
Tracking your protein intake is also important. You don’t need to track absolutely everything, but you should have a good idea of how much protein you need and how much you’re taking in. Macro calculators can help you to do this. Some people aim for 1 gram per pound of bodyweight, but recent studies suggest that is too much. You should experiment and see what works for you. Ensuring you’re getting enough protein will help to rebuild your muscles and further prevent soreness.
Some ‘experts’ will tell you that you must get your protein from meat. Yes, if you’re a meat eater, that should be a good source for you. However, it is not necessary; there are many vegetarian and vegan weight lifters who get incredible results. You can get protein from soy protein, protein bars, eggs, yogurts, nuts, legumes, and more. Every little helps when it comes to bumping up that intake!
Make Sure You Support Your Goals With Your Home Activities
Make sure the things you’re doing at home support your goals. Things like your eating and sleeping are especially important to succeeding, as is making sure your water intake is high enough. It isn’t what you do in the gym, but what you do outside of it that plays a huge part in your results. Sleep and rest are both absolutely crucial!
Get the most out of your lifting sessions with these tips - do you have any of your own? Leave a comment below!