Whether you are training at home or at the gym, there are things you can do to make sure you get the best session. Follow the tips below to make sure your workout counts in the best way possible!
Prepare Yourself to Have the Time for a Proper Workout/Training Session
If you are training at home, don’t do your laundry or clean your kitchen between sets. Don’t do work emails on your phone, sitting on the bench between sets. Make the time to get it done. It might have to be quick depending on the stage of your life, but focus to the best of your ability to make the minutes when you are lifting count.
Take the Time to Get a Good Warm Up
Warm up properly! This is crucial! Warming up isn’t just about temperature. It is an increase in neurological recruitment. This means your body gets better and better at doing what you’re asking it to do. Make sure your warm up reflects what you are going to do, and that it starts light and progresses. Don’t skip your warm up!
Don’t Stop in the Middle of your Session and Finish Later
Don’t stop in the middle of your session! You can do this with some cardio. Depending on what your goal is, cardio minutes can accumulate. But a training session is planned to be done in a certain order. You warm up, get the most dynamic and coordination-demanding exercises done first. Then do your heavy work. Next comes accessory work, then core/trunk/abs and cool down.
You don’t want to start and stop in the middle of this. If you are consistently having to stop and re-start your sessions, a better plan would be to re-write them so they fit in your time constraints.
Focus also on being present, and enjoying your work. I know, I know. It’s work, but you can learn to make it fun.
Rest the Right Amount of Time Between Sets
Resting an appropriate amount between sets is extremely important. How much rest is optimal depends on your goals, which you have hopefully committed to beforehand. For example, if you are training for high volume and endurance, you might rest 30-60 seconds between sets. Resting longer will change the stimulus on your body, prolonging a mediocre session, and making it less effective for your endurance goals.
If you are training for strength, you will need to rest 2-4 minutes, or maybe longer, between heavy and challenging sets. Moving too quickly into the next set will cost you quality on the next set.
Work on Your Exercise Discipline
Exercising always feels better when you feel good at it. The more you train, the better you’ll feel, both while you’re training, and not. Remember this when you feel like quitting! To get to this point, just keep going. It’s simple but not easy. Read here about how to build your discipline so you don’t always have to rely on motivation.
Find a Supportive Environment
I absolutely love gym communities. I have found the best support, advice, friendships, and general camaraderie at gyms than anywhere else. I highly encourage you to find a community you enjoy, even if you aren’t super social. You don’t have to talk to everyone to get the benefits of a supportive environment. If you are in Austin, check out these great communities.
Another perk of gyms is that there is all kinds of great equipment that is harder to find for home. Try this back extension machine, for example, to make your big lifts stronger, and your back happier.
Tie It All In
Give these tips a go during your session, and let me know how it goes. Happy training!
About the author
Kathryn Alexander is a strength coach and personal trainer in Austin, Texas. She loves hiking, college football, and the feel of a perfectly knurled barbell. Read more about Kathryn here.