Whether you want to achieve your ideal body composition or want abs you can show off or just be fit, as far as I’m concerned there are four things you must be aware of in order to make your journey as effective as possible.
Nutrition & Hydration
“Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym” – how many times have you heard or read this? That’s because it’s true and that’s precisely why it belongs at the top of this list. You can be working your butt off at the gym but if your nutrition is not on point most of the time, you aren’t going to get anywhere. Think about it, even if you work out every day (not recommended), that’s still only a couple of hours a day. If you aren’t doing things right the rest of the day, it’s a losing battle.
Whether your goal is to put on muscle or lose fat, you need to feed your body the right nutrition to support it. You need to be consuming adequate amounts of macro-nutrients (i.e. protein, carbohydrates and fats) along with micro-nutrients (i.e. vitamins and minerals) so you can progress in the gym. Learning about calculating calories and macros, tracking them and reading nutrition labels will ensure your hard work at the gym isn’t a total waste of time.
Oh, and don’t forget to stay properly hydrated because a lot of times that you think you’re hungry, you’re actually dehydrated and thirsty.
How many times have you seen people at the gym use the treadmill or EFX machine to warm up for 30 minutes followed by some light weight bicep curls and triceps push-downs and call it a training session? The reasoning behind it is that they don’t want to put on muscle like a bodybuilder and rather want to “just” tone up (see my post on popular fitness myths). If only it was that easy to put on muscle. Sigh!
Whatever your goal at the gym, it cannot be achieved without a properly scheduled and programmed training programme. You cannot just show up at the gym, pick up whatever weight you feel like and expect to get results. There are tons of great, free training splits available on the internet whatever your training level, beginner, intermediate or advanced.
A little bit of research goes a long way and will save a lot of back pedaling and lost time. So, spend some time looking at a few splits and see which works best for you based on your lifestyle, adapt it if required and you will have put your best foot forward.
So, you’ve found the ultimate training programme and you’re hitting your target calories and macros like a champion but still not seeing results? Are you sleeping enough and taking enough time off from the gym to let your body recover? When you lift weights in the gym, what you’re essentially doing is damaging your muscles by creating what are called micro-tears. These micro-tears then heal to form bigger, stronger muscles, given the right nutrition. This process does not happen in the gym, rather it happens when you’re asleep or resting. So get your 6-8 hours of sleep, not only will you get better results for your body but also have a sharper mind. Further, time away from the gym is as important as time in the gym. This prevents over-training, lets your body recover and thereby improves performance in the gym.
Take the above 3 points I’ve written about and do it over and over again. Not for a day or a week but for months and years and not only will you achieve your target body but you will improve your quality of life and performance at work as well.
In other words, eat, sleep, train, repeat. Simple, so what are you waiting for?