By: Eric Martinez
Nov. 10. 2010-
1.) Warm-up properly: As you gain experience, your muscles, tendons and ligaments will be subjected to much more stress than when you first started. To reduce the chance of injury, increase your warm-up time proportionally. As you advance from the beginner to intermediate status, three to four light and medium warm-ups sets of your first weightlifting exercise of the day. Also 5-10 minutes of general warm-up on the stationary bike or treadmill, can help adequately prepare muscles for heavy lifting ahead.
2.) Save Abs for last: Training abs before your major body part work can result in compromises to strength and could potentially put you at increased risk for injury. Try training your abs last or alone in a separate workout. To save time, you can also insert ab exercises between exercises for other body parts as you near the midpoint to end of your workout.
3.) Vary your rep ranges: Many people think that lifting heavy all the time is the best way to build muscle, but going through phases of lighter work has its place, as well. Different weight loads and rep ranges emphasize different muscle fiber types, which then help you to achieve better overall muscle quality.
4.) Keep Hydrated: Make sure to keep well hydrated throughout the day, divide your total body weight by 2 and that’s the minimum amount of water you should consume daily. I would personally recommend drinking 20-30 ounces on top of that number. Being hydrated throughout the day will help hydrate cells in your body and keep your protein synthesis from dropping. Being hydrated also flushes out toxins and wastes from your metabolic system.
5.) Isolate in moderation: Isolation workouts, which require movement at only one joint, are great for helping to shape muscle and have a place in any routine. Although they should be used more sparingly than compound workouts. The best way to use them is near the end of your workout.
6.) Vary your workouts: There have been many research studies that systematically varying volume, intensity, exercise selection and other variables is most effective for a continual increase in muscle mass. The human body is very good at adaptation and must be shocked if continued progression is to be achieved.
7.) Train Instinctively: I highly recommend having your workouts plotted for the next several weeks; this can pay off in the long run. But some days, your quads just may not be up for a heavy squat session or may still be reeling from the last workout. Or maybe your shoulders, still a few days from their next dedicated workout, feel fresh and are ready to train again. Make sure to listen to your body; don’t be afraid to modify your approach according to what it tells you.
8.) Keep a journal: Write down as much as you can about each workout: exercises, sets, reps, weight used, intensity techniques used, how you felt, how much you rested between sets, and so on. This will be very helpful for your training cycles, so that you can undertake a quick progress check from week to week.
9.) Turn on the tunes: Research suggests that listening to your favorite music while training will help you complete more repetitions as compared to not listening to any music or music you don’t enjoy. Also, your headphones are a good deterrent to workout-killing conversation, the less chatting, the better your workout will be.
10.) Partner up: Having a partner can be very beneficial while training, spotting you and assisting you with forced reps and partials to help you gain after you’ve hit failure. Also if your partner is stronger or has the tendency to train with more intensity, that may motivate you to do so as well. A partner is always a plus in the gym.