How do you prepare for the gym? Find out what other people from the message boards think...

By: Topic Of The Week


TOPIC: How Do You Prepare For The Gym?

The Question:

If you want to succeed in bodybuilding you must be consistent going to the gym. After awhile our daily gym visits become very repetitive.

We all have our own styles, how do you prepare for the gym?

What do you wear? Do you have certain clothes you wear all the time to the gym?

What do you bring with you? What shouldn't you bring with you?

How do gyms accommodate their members? Are there any trends (good/bad) you see from gym to gym that might need to be emphasized/addressed?

Bonus Question: What do you do with your kids when you go to the gym? Does your gym provide services for children?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

    Prizes:
      1st place - 75 in store credit.
      2nd place - 50 in store credit.
      3rd place - 25 in store credit.

To use your credit, e-mail Will @ will@bodybuilding.com for more info.


1st Place - mivi320

In order to be successful in the sport of bodybuilding, we must make it a habit to attend the gym on a regular basis. After awhile, going to the gym becomes rather monotonous. Obviously, we all have our own styles of preparation for the gym. Some of us are more animated before attempting a big lift, while others are somewhat quiet and keep to themselves.


Guidelines

Below is a list of guidelines that will help you prepare for the gym!


Establish A Workout Routine!

    I've seen it way too many times - teenagers who waltz into the gym and crank out reps on the bench press with too much weight, having their spotter (who weighs less than the weight being used) give assistance to the bench presser.

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    These teens then follow up their awful bench pressing form with bicep curls - where they use too much momentum and back involvement.

    Now the last time I checked, bicep curls are supposed to target the biceps - not the back. After these horrid sets of bench pressing and curls, the group of teens leave the weight room expecting to grow off of what they had just done.

    I hate to break it to you, but a few sets of improper bench pressing and bicep curls aren't going to get you very far in the bodybuilding game. That is why it is imperative to establish an effective workout routine, which conclusively will better prepare you for the gym!

    By establishing a workout routine, you can better prepare for the gym because you will have a plan of what you are to do in the gym for that particular day. Going into the gym with no plan or purpose is simply setting yourself up for failure.


The Importance Of Pre-Workout Nutrition:

    Before even stepping foot into the gym, I make sure that I had a solid pre-workout meal consisting predominantly of carbohydrates, moderate protein, and a small amount of fat. I cannot stress how important pre-workout nutrition is in order to maximize your performance in the gym.

    A good rule of thumb is to have consumed a proper pre-workout meal 45-90 minutes before your workout. This will allow for optimal digestion, and prevent any gastric discomfort.

    Below Are Two Of My Favorite Pre-Workout Meals:

      wpi

      Meal Option #1

      • 1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
      • 2 scoops whey protein
      • 1 cup skim milk
      • Handful of strawberries
      • I like this meal because it's quick, easy, and gets the job done. Preferably, I like to use Vanilla Bean PrimaForce Substance WPI as my source of whey protein. I mix the oats, whey, and strawberries in a large bowl, and then pour the skim milk over the mixture and eat it like cereal! It's absolutely delicious!

      Meal Option #1

      • 2 slices whole wheat bread
      • 1 cup cottage cheese
      • 4 oz. Chicken Breast
      • I like this meal because it's light, simple, and tastes excellent. I simply toast the 2 slices of whole wheat bread, and spread the cottage cheese on top of the toast. The 4 oz. of chicken I eat separately for extra protein.


The Importance Of Pre-Workout Supplementation:

    This aspect of preparing for the gym is widely overlooked. Often times, we don't feel like going to the gym because we're just too tired. Sometimes we fail to train with all out intensity, and need a supplement to enable us to train harder and longer. Or maybe you're just looking for a product that will give you a mind-blowing pump! Whatever it is you're looking for, my recommendations are below!

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    • ErgoPharm AMP: This product is one of my absolute favorites. The energy and rush this product gives you is simply unbelievable.

      I can recall days where I felt like sleeping in and not working out, but once I took ErgoPharm's AMP I was ready to go! This product will ultimately help you prepare for the gym by increasing your energy levels and mental alertness for training!

    • white blood
    • Controlled Labs White Blood: This product is another one of my favorites. White Blood enhances blood transport, and contains a wide array of substances that all work in synergy to increase the volume of muscle cells, which in turn is very anabolic!

      This product will help you prepare for the gym by giving your a mind-blowing pump going into your workout - which will ultimately encourage you to train harder and more intensely!

    • Xtend
    • SciVation Xtend: This product is my favorite supplement out there. The watermelon flavor is simply amazing! It tastes just like watermelon candy - it's so good!

      I recommend sipping on some Xtend prior, during, and after your workout for optimal recovery and enhanced performance!


Beat The Log Book!

    If you're an organized bodybuilder, you should be keeping a log book, in which you record sets, reps, and weight for each exercise. Each session, you should prepare for the gym by establishing goals to increase in either weight or reps on a few of the exercises. This will overload the muscle each workout and force it to grow!

    I personally prefer to keep my log online, conveniently located right here on Bodybuilding.com's forum in the workout journal section. Doing so allows me to interact with other members on the message boards - and they're great for giving me some motivation to lift heavy and hard!


Mind Over Matter, Always!

    Before heading to the gym, mentally picture yourself cranking out reps on the exercises you are scheduled to do that particular day.

    Lifting is almost completely mental for me - and I always convince myself that I can do it before attempting a heavy lift. So before you step foot into the gym, make sure you're mentally ready to lift some heavy weight! It's mind over matter, always.


Don't Forget Your Gym Bag!


My Preparation:
We All Have Our Own Styles, How Do You Prepare For The Gym?

I'm a pretty intense guy when it comes to bodybuilding. I'm currently preparing for my very first bodybuilding competition for next year, so before I enter the gym, I like to make sure everything is in check including my pre-workout nutrition and supplementation. Everything has to be just so.

I usually train later in the afternoon after work or school (depending on my schedule). First, I eat a solid pre-workout meal about 45-90 minutes before working out. I take all my pre-workout supplements at this time as well.

As I'm eating my meal, I look over my log book. I establish goals I want to achieve on each exercise, and say to myself I have to get those goals no matter what!

If my energy levels are stagnant, I'll watch an intense scene or two from my favorite bodybuilding videos. The infamous squatting scene featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger from the documentary, Pumping Iron always gets me motivated. Ronnie Coleman : The Cost of Redemption is another one of my favorites to watch if I'm feeling low on energy and need some motivation to lift.

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I then prepare for the gym by packing all the essentials I need for the gym in my gym bag. This includes my:

  • Bodybuilding.com shaker bottle
  • Towel
  • Lifting gloves
  • Change of clothes
  • Water bottle
  • Whey protein & dextrose for my post workout shake.

I also pack my MP3 player for some hard hitting music to get me amped to lift some serious weight!

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On the drive to the gym, I blast some hard rock music with powerful vocals which gets me completely pumped to attack the weights! I mentally picture myself accomplishing all of my goal lifts for that particular day.

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"On the drive to the gym, I blast some hard rock music with powerful vocals which gets me completely pumped to attack the weights!"


- mivi3203

Once I begin to enter the gym, I begin to sip my SciVation Xtend, turn up the tunes on my MP3 player, take a good look in the mirror and let out a few shouts for extra motivation. By now, I'm ready to attack the weights!


Clothes:
What Do You Wear?

I usually wear athletic shorts with a comfortable short-sleeve T-shirt. Since I live in the Southeast, it's pretty hot for the most part. On days when the heat index is elevated, I usually wear a tank top or my Bodybuilding.com racer-back tank top.

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I also wear my athletic shoes with my low top socks since the heat is usually scorching. On days I do squats, I wear my high top shoes for extra ankle support.

Do You Have Certain Clothes You Wear All The Time To The Gym?

    Yes, I often dress occasionally to the body part I'm training that particular day. For example, if I'm training my biceps and triceps tomorrow, chances are I'll wear a sleeveless shirt so I can better concentrate on the muscles I'm training.

    Dressing occasionally to the muscle I'm training has allowed me to increase my vision of training the particular muscle to the fullest, and conclusively has improved my mind-to-muscle connection!


Accessories:
What Do You Bring With You?

Items I bring to the gym:

  • Gym bag
  • Bodybuilding.com shaker cup
  • Towel
  • SciVation Xtend or BCAA mix diluted in water bottle
  • Lifting gloves, straps, chalk
  • MP3 player
  • Whey protein and dextrose for my post-workout shake
  • Change of clothes

What Shouldn't You Bring With You?

  • Your Cell Phone: The last time I checked, the gym is for lifting - not for idle chatting or negotiating business deals.

  • Your Kids: The gym can be a dangerous place for young ones. If your gym has a nursery, drop them off their. Otherwise, don't bring them for safety reasons!

  • Sports Equipment Not Related To Weight Lifting: I see so many people bring basketballs into my gym because the indoor basketball court is adjacent to the weight room, and these people often dribble the ball in the weight room. This is extremely annoying and is a big distraction. Again, the gym is for lifting.

  • Your Ego: This isn't the 9th grade and nobody cares how much you're bench pressing.

  • Your Flip-Flops & Bathing Suit: I see this one all the time at my gym too, as the pool is located right next to the weight room. Folks go for a quick dip in the pool area then come into the weight room and crank out a few sets of curls, and then proceed to the indoor pool.


Gym Accommodation:
How Do Gyms Accommodate Their Members?

Of all the gyms I've trained at, the gym personnel have been extremely accommodating. For example, there have been times when I've forgotten to pack my towel, and the gym accommodated me with one.

Another thing I noticed is that the gym's staff located at the front desk are very accommodating as well. There was an instance when I had cut my finger on a piece of equipment in the gym, and it started bleeding excessively. I went to the front desk and showed them my finger, and they fixed me right up!

The current gym I train at is very considerate of their members - as several members requested for a broader dumbbell selection, and within a few weeks, the petition was fulfilled! They just ordered all new machines not too long ago, so I'm anticipating those as well!

Are There Any Trends You See From Gym To Gym That Might Need To Be Emphasized/Addressed?

    One of the biggest problems I see at most gyms is members fail to wipe down the equipment with a paper towel and provided sanitizer. This often leaves the equipment covered in somebody else's sweat, which is just plain disgusting!

    Another trend I see that needs to be addressed is members using awful form for the sacrifice of using more weight. I see this mostly in beginner lifters and young teens. This problem certainly needs to be addressed at my gym, as it is way too common.

    Another big mistake I see from gym to gym is folks performing dangerous exercises that place too much stress on the joints - particularly the rotator cuff. Behind the neck barbell presses and upright rows are two very dangerous exercises, as they both put pressure on the rotator cuff and may cause shoulder impingement.

    These exercises should be avoided, as their are several alternatives that target the shoulders much more effectively.


Bonus:
What Do You Do With Your Kids When You Go To The Gym?

If you have young children, you can simply leave them in the gym nursery while you get your workout in. If your gym doesn't have a nursery, you can simply let your kids play in the indoor basketball gym if they're old enough.

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Another good alternative is to leave your children with your wife, relatives, or friends to watch over them while you get your workout in. As a last resort, you can always hire a baby sitter to watch your kids while you go to the gym.

Does Your Gym Provide Services For Children?

    Yes, and many of the gym members find it very convenient. I don't have young kids, but have talked to several of the members and they love the program the gym implements.

    The gym members simply drop their kids off in the nursery, get their workout in, and pick up their kids when they're done working out! Easy as that!

    Good luck with all of your training goals!

    Mike


2nd Place - ho_124

Although preparing for the gym isn't the most important thing you can do, it is still a good idea to prepare properly to get a good workout, because a good workout means better results. The same thing is with anything else, for example all different kinds of sports.

If a hockey team just came into a game two minutes before it started and didn't bother to get concentrated or warm-up, they wouldn't perform too well. You sometimes hear commentators say, when you're watching a sport, that a certain athlete or team didn't give themselves enough time to prepare or get focused which is why they aren't performing.

The same is true when going to the gym; if you rush into the gym with jeans and boots and start lifting right away, there's no way you will be able to push yourself to your full potential. It doesn't take that long at all to prepare, just dress properly and do whatever else you do, warm-up, and take one or two minutes to concentrate before you start lifting.

Again, this might not be the most important thing that will make your or break you in terms of bodybuilding, powerlifting or whatever your doing, but it's still something that you should be doing because all the little things make a difference.


Preparation:
How Do You Prepare For The Gym?

1. The Most Important: Warm-up.

    Warm-up is probably the most important thing you can do when getting ready to hit the weights. Probably 20-40% of the people you see in the gym warm-up meaning the majority of people hit the weights with cold muscles just waiting to be injured.

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    Warming up can never be underestimated since it also prepares your muscles for the beating they will be taking so you can push yourself to your full potential.

    If you lift with cold muscles you most likely won't be able to push the full amount of reps you should had you had you warmed up. Think about it, for all sports people always take as much time as they need to warm-up. Take volleyball for an example, when I watched some of the school games they warmed up for at least 20 minutes.

    I always warm-up before hitting weights, because if I don't I won't be able to lift as well (cold muscles aren't as effective as ones that are warmed up). There are many different styles to warming up. Some people just use weights to warm-up, some people like to do a bit of cardio to warm-up and so on.

    My style of warming up take a little longer, but in the end I feel more ready to hit the weights. What I like to do is do about five minutes of cardio. If I'm doing a back day then I might go on the rowing machine, if I'm doing legs then the bike would do. But the most important thing is getting blood flowing throughout the body.

    Once the five minutes of cardio is done I like to stretch and the main reason for doing this is to prevent injury and getting the muscles loosened up. I don't stretch too long before a workout however, all I basically do is stretch the involved body parts I'm going to be working for 20 seconds for two sets. Stretching too long will hinder how much weight you can lift which is what you don't want.

2. Getting Mentally Focused & Concentrated.

    When you're sitting on the bench, or getting ready at the squat rack to do your first set or even before all of that you should take a minute or two to get mentally focused. You can even get focused while warming up, but either way pushing those last few grueling reps is all a mental game which puts your mind vs. your body.

    If your body tells you to stop but your mind keeps going no matter what, to complete the reps, you will have a lot better chance of finishing those reps than if you just stop when your muscles are tired.

    To be able to push yourself mentally you have to spend at least a minute concentrating and pushing everything else out of your mind. You can't concentrate on lifting if you're thinking about work or cooking dinner. If you think about it, it's just one minute of your time, some athletes spend hours before a match visualizing what they are going to do and getting focused.

    You can always, I mean always tell which people who come into the gym are mentally focused and will be able to push out those last reps even though their muscles are in pure fatigue. You can see by how they look, there's those guys with looks that could kill you. This should be telling you that they are into what their doing.

    Then there's the rest who are either nervously looking around at other guys and won't even be able to push through a little fatigue, or those laid back guys with no goals who just come in a push a few reps and quit when they're tired and still think they are building muscle.

3. Pre-Workout Meal.

    Before your workout it's important to be well fed or else you won't have the optimal energy to lift at your peak. You should never go workout on an empty stomach just like any other sport. Do you think professional athletes before a big game say "Hey, I'm too lazy to eat something so I'm just going to play hungry."

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    You might even pass out because of the high load of stress put on your body. And since you don't have enough energy to withstand it, your body just shuts down (not as in dying). That's what happened one time when I used to play badminton. I never ate for a while and I went to practice where we did training and I almost passed out and couldn't play for the rest of the day. Plus I hardly got anything out of the training because I didn't have much energy.

    So to prevent this you should eat a pre-workout meal about one hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half before your workout. It should consist of mostly slow absorbing carbs so that the energy is released gradually so that when it's time to workout you have plenty of energy to lift.

    Some protein is nice but it isn't the most important thing since right now you want energy and protein's main job isn't to provide energy. What I usually do is eat something with a little protein like a piece of chicken or some fish.

    Next for carbs I might eat some oatmeal, whole grain bread and some fruits like oranges, grapefruit and some berries. Now think, are you better prepared, tired or energized?

4. Get Someone To Workout With You.

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    I usually like to get someone who is serious about lifting to workout with me. Like anything, training with someone else who is serious about it beats training alone most of the time.

    Since I sometimes workout at school, there are always people going to workout so I usually ask someone I know to workout with me.

    Be careful though, you don't want some guy who has no clue what he's doing and will just end up wasting your time by talking. Getting someone to workout with you helps you to prepare since you won't have to look for someone to spot you or help you on forced reps or something like that.


Clothes:
What Do You Wear?

When I go to the gym, I never wear baggy clothing, which is something you should do too. First of all with baggy clothing, you can't see what your muscles are doing. For example, if your wearing super baggy shorts and your doing squats, you might not be able to tell if your form is correct or if your knees are going over your toes.

Or if you're wearing a baggy shirt, you might not be able to tell if you're cheating by moving your elbows up a little bit. And in general I don't feel comfortable at all wearing baggy clothing while working out. I usually like to wear a well fitting shirt or muscle shirt with shorts that stop about the middle of the knees or some sweat pants even though it's hard to tell what my legs are doing with them on.

I also like to wear my old badminton shoes to workout because they are small, comfy, and give me good support. If I wore my usual shoes, they would be bulking and uncomfortable when doing legs or something like that. Right now the only things I wear to workout are a short plain white T-shirt, a muscle shirt, a pair of shorts, and some sweat pants. For some reason I just alternate between them and it's just a superstition that I have.


Accessories:
What Do You Bring With You?

These are the things I bring with me to workout.

1. Bag:

    I just bring a backpack or a small bag to store my clothing, music player, a towel and other things like water, my protein shake or whatever else. You should bring a bag with you because you can't carry everything in with you at once. It's something that will get you more organized.

2. Music:

    Music is a good thing that helps you get focused and concentrated because it pushes everything out of your mind. Generally you don't want to have some soft classical music because that will relax you which is what you don't really want.

    Get some heavy music like some rap or metal so that you will get pumped. But either way music is still a good thing to have to get yourself centered.

3. Towel & Water:

    Bring water because it is important to keep yourself hydrated or else you might pass out. A towel comes in handy when you need one because you're squatting or something like that. You can use the towel to wipe sweat from the equipment. The next person will be appreciative of that fact.

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4. Comfortable Shoes:

    Like I said above, my casual shoes are kind of bulky and aren't really a workout shoe. So I like to bring my own shoes for working out that are slim and provide good support. Don't be dumb and bring sandals or something.

5. Protein Shake:

    After I workout, I want to start my recovery right away, that's why I have my protein shake in my bag ready to go. All I need to do is add water and it's ready since the whey powder and the simple sugars are already in there. Plus you can add creatine, BCAA, multivitamins and other supplements if you want.

6. Workout Log:

    This is important to bring to chart your gains and see what you're doing. If you don't know what exercises your suppose to do then you can't workout. And if you don't write in how many reps or how much weight you used, you won't know if your getting any stronger or not or what weight you used last time. Making a workout log is useless unless you bring it with you to the gym.

7. Gloves:

    I bring gloves basically so the weights don't grind against my hands and to prevent getting calluses. If you're touching a girl you wouldn't want to be scratching her would you?


What Shouldn't You Bring With You?

1. Leave Your Gangster Clothing Somewhere Else:

    First off for those people who like to dress that way, please don't bring your super baggy gangster clothing in the gym for your workout. I mean seriously, one time when I was working out I saw these three guys come into the gym dressed in super baggy jeans and sweats, lugz boots with laces hanging out, oversized shirts and sweaters, and baseball caps.

    I mean come on, friggin lugz to workout?!? And jeans and sweaters? If it was a hot muggy day they probably would have been sweating and cooking like crazy. Plus it will save yourself some embarrassment if you don't go dressed that way.

2. Thongs & Sandals:

    For some reason some people try to look cool by wearing thongs and sandals into the gym. But if you think a little bit people are always dropping weight or even you might be dropping weight either by accident or because you can't hold the weight up anymore. Imagine if you dropped a 45 pound plate or dumbbell on your foot?

    Never mind the pain (that will be the worst pain you've ever felt in your foot) but you probably won't be able to walk on it for days and it will leave a huge bruise. Leave them for the beach.

3. Things That Distract:

    Leave your distractions for somewhere else. So don't bring in your pager or phone with you, or else an hour workout might end up being an hour and fifteen minute workout. Also don't bring something to read, like I said above you don't want anything getting your mind off concentrating on weights.

    If you read an interesting article you probably won't be thinking about weights and your mental focus won't be as strong, let alone you might waste a lot of time. Again like I mentioned above, you don't want to workout with someone you know will just end up talking for a long time. You don't want to be talking a lot since you won't be able to concentrate mentally.

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4. Watch & Necklace:

    Take off your watch and necklace if you have one before you go workout. Your watch might get damaged or get in the way if you leave it on. Also you might want to take your necklace off if you have one. It might get in the way of squatting or other exercises you might be doing. It can also get caught on something which you don't want.


Gym Accomodation:
How do gyms accommodate their members? Are there any trends (good/bad) you see from gym to gym that might need to be emphasized/addressed?


Good Trends:

There are some basic things a gym should provide. Then there are the gyms that go the extra mile and give you more for your dollar. I will outline the trends with the first being the most basic and the last being the things that gyms do to further accommodate their members.

  1. Towels - This should be a no brainier for any gym since people sweat of course. This is a basic service that all gyms should provide.
  2. Water fountain - This is a must, your gym has to have one so that people can keep hydrated just incase they forget their water bottle or just don't bring one because they rely on their gym to have one.
  3. Paper Towel & Cleaning Agent - No one likes lying in a pile of smelly sweat or even worse putting their face into it. That's why it's a good idea that some gyms provide paper towel and cleaning agents for gym users to wipe off the equipment after they use it. Again this is just a basic thing that most gyms should have.
  4. Fan/Air Conditioning - If you ever workout on a hot day when there's no air conditioning it can get very exhausting and you won't be able to lift to your full potential. That's why it's a must that your gym have an air conditioning or fans.
  5. Lots Of Dumbbells - The gym you go to should have dumbbells that go to at least 100 pounds and a good number of them because people may want to use the same weight.
  6. All The Important Machines - All good gyms should have the basic machines that most people use. For example it should have:

    • Cable cross machine
    • Squat rack
    • Smith machine
    • Hamstring curl machine
    • Pec deck machine
    • Rowing and pull down machine
    • Calf raise machine and so on.

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    It should also have a variety of other machines that could be useful if you're trying to isolate different body parts.

  7. Mats & Exercise Balls - Mats are good for exercises where you have to lie down and some people like to use the exercise ball for different exercise to improve stabilization.
  8. Permanent Locker - If your gym has a permanent locker then you can store all your belongings in it and won't have to worry about having to bring all your stuff to the gym like your whey protein and shoes.
  9. Cafeteria - A cafeteria is great for an example if you don't have time to cook a healthy meal. If your gym happens to have a cafeteria that sells food then it would be easier to just pick up something there to eat. However if your cafeteria just sells fried foods and candy then it might as well not be there because the point of bodybuilding or whatever sport your into is to diet healthy.
  10. Sauna - This is also a nice thing that your gym might or might not have. If you have plenty of time and would like to relax or socialize a bit, just pop into the sauna with other people after a shower or a workout.
  11. Supplement Store - This is something that most gyms won't have, but there are some that do. If your gym happens to have this then it could be pretty useful since you can go in and grab a bar, or a ready to drink shake if you forgot yours or are just on the go.
  12. Other Facilities - Some places have gyms, pools, basketball courts, and other sports facilities. This could be a great way to get some cardio in or just relax by playing your favorite sport. Another great thing that some gyms have is an indoor track which can be useful in the winter when it's too cold to run outside.

Bad Trends:

  1. Too Many Useless Machines - Some gyms have so many useless machines that just crowd up the gym. Some of the machines are hardly ever used by any gym members. The money that is spent on those useless machines could be spend on much better things that you would actually use, not just look at.
  2. Too Many Old People In Your Gym - Some gyms have loads of old people who are trying to make some last attempt to do something they should have done in their childhood. They use horrible form and old school techniques. The motivation in the gym is horrible since you would be the biggest and most fit guy there. One of the most motivating things is looking at the biggest guy in the gym and wanting to beat him.
  3. Too Old Equipment - This is a problem with some gyms that have been around for a while. One of the things that sometimes happens is on the machines, one pulley is harder to pull than the other so it creates uneven resistance.


Bonus:
What Do You Do With Your Kids When You Go To The Gym? Does Your Gym Provide Services For Children?

I don't have kids since I'm only eighteen. But my gym is great for people who have children. It has four pools (Pan Am pool), diving boards and other swimming accessories. It also has a running track and a cafeteria.

They also offer courses like swimming, water polo and it has swimming associations like Manta and Marlins which teach kids how to swim competitively. You can drop your kid off to do some swimming lessons and hit the weights. There is also a kiddy pool in my gym that has a fountain and a bunch of mats and toys. My gym has water polo that the kids could play or a huge alligator that is filled with air that children climb on top of.


3rd Place - Squat_lt

My preparation for a workout starts at early morning. Everything is carefully planned so every time I train my maximum potential is reached.


Preparation

Generally My Preparation Starts With:

  • Pre-Workout Hydration - I try to consume most water before and during my workout. I believe it affects my gains at a gym.

  • Pre-Workout Nutrition - My last meal before a workout is one of biggest meals of a day. Usually I eat chicken breast with rice and sweat corn (my favorite). I like to train with a full stomach, because I can't concentrate on weights when I'm hungry. If I'm feeling tired, I drink a cup of strong coffee or two cans of red bull.

    animal

    30 minutes after my pre-workout meal I take 1 packet of Animal Pak. I like this product.

    It helps to keep my vitamin intake high and it contains ginseng and other performance enhancers, so I feel better during my workout.

    1 hour after my pre-workout meal I take a serving of Green Bulge and White Blood.

  • Watching Something For Motivation - I like watching pictures of great bodybuilders or watching videos. It really motivates me to workout harder. I know that I can't achieve anything if I'm lazy. The movie "Pumping Iron" with Arnold and "The Cost of Redemption" with Ronnie Coleman has really inspired me. I always watch fragments of them before my workout. The part where Ronnie is doing squats or leg presses just blows me up.

  • Packing My Bag - Ok, the time has come. It's time to hit the gym. Just one last step left - putting all the stuff into my bag. Even when I carry many various things to gym - I don't like big bags. I always prefer smaller ones. I also hate it when the changing room is congested with huge and nearly empty gym bags.


Accessories

My Gym Bag Usually Contains:

  • My tank top or sleeveless t-shirt
  • Light, medium length shorts
  • Heavy athletic shoes
  • Towel, sponge, shower gel, deodorant (all I need for a good shower)
  • Pair of gloves and straps (only for critical weight)
  • Post workout shake (1 scoop of Optimum Whey, 50gr of Dextrose, 2.5gr CEE, 500ml low fat Milk)
  • Few Bodybuilding.com water bottles filled with water
  • Extra socks, underwear, clothes
  • My workout log with my training routine


Clothes:
What Do You Wear? Do You Have Certain Clothes You Wear All The Time To The Gym?

I don't have any special prejudices regarding workout clothing but I do have some clothes I like to wear when I'm training. I usually wear:

  • Tank Top - I like to wear tank tops instead of regular t-shirts because I just like to see myself pumped in the mirror. It may sound egocentric, but a good pump motivates me even more. I enjoy seeing my pumped biceps and if it even helps to my motivation, why not? Also it helps to control my technique when I'm doing bicep and tricep exercises.

  • Light, Medium Length Shorts - I wear shorts instead of pants or tracksuit because I feel more comfortable when I'm doing squats and many other exercises. It's warm enough too.

  • Low Socks - Nothing fancy, I just like the way they look and make me feel comfortable.

  • Heavy Reebok Sneakers - Yes, they are heavy, but I feel more balanced when I wear them compared to lighter shoes. Good stuff if you are true squats fan.


Accessories:
What Do You Bring With You? What Shouldn't You Bring With You?

In my opinion, what you bring to the gym is very important. Some things can greatly boost and improve your workout, while others can distract you from training and ruin your workout.

Every bodybuilder should consider about bringing these things to gym:

Clothing:

    Good dressing can also slightly improve or decrease performance of your training.

    • Shoes - Shoes are very important when it comes to lifting heavy weights. Good shoes will make you feel comfortable, will stabilize your feet and improve your balance. It is even more important if you are a squats or deadlifts fan.

      In addition, do not go overboard with comfort. You do not want to wear light tennis shoes while you are squatting with few hundred pounds. Your shoes must be appropriate for your training goals.

    • Clothes - You must choose proper clothes regarding the environment you train. Generally, simple t-shirt or tank top and light shorts would suit most bodybuilders, but sometimes you need to make exceptions. You must feel warm enough to feel comfortable.

      Of course, there is no need to bring winter sweater to gym and sweat all the time. However, you should not be freezing either. Training in the cold gym is probably the worst thing to do.

Training Accessories:

    Nowadays there is huge choice of various accessories regarding weightlifting. Some of them help to train more comfortably, while others are essential if you are serious about weight training. I will write about a few of the most popular bodybuilding accessories that you can see in the gym almost every day.

    • Gloves - Many bodybuilders and others who are familiar with the sport wear gloves while training to protect their hands. Good gloves will help to protect hands and strengthen the grip when you are lifting heavy weights. In the end it is up to you whether or not to train with gloves.

    • Straps - Straps are fastened around your wrist and twisted around a bar to strengthen your grip. They might be very helpful when doing deadlifts, pull-ups and various other exercises when grip strength is very important.

      Straps might be a good aid in your back workout as well. However all straps and gloves keep hand strength from fully developing naturally. So it's the matter of personal preference to use them or not.

    • Wraps - Wraps are used to support weak or injured joints and muscles. Most popular types of wraps are wrist wraps and knee wraps. Mostly knee wraps are used when doing very heavy squats. They can aid tremendously in injury prevention. Knee wrap helps to stabilize and support knee joint.

      Wrist wraps are used in pushing exercises. Such as heavy bench press or military press. Some gloves already come with wrist wraps.

    • Belts - Belts are essential when doing heavy full squats or deadlifts. They helps to protect lower back and abs from injury. However, you can't use a belt too much. I see some guys wearing belts even when they are doing tricep pushdowns or dumbbell kickbacks. That's certainly a bad way to train.

      Gradually your lower back and abs strength will suffer and you will be prone to injury. So use the belt only when you need to. Most gyms provide lifting belts but it's always worth to have your own.

    • Chalk - That's the old school diamond! Most bodybuilders in 70's and 80's didn't use any fancy gloves or straps. Chalk will keep your hands dry for a secure grip. Hardcore bodybuilders always suggest chalk instead of other grip enhancers. If you are serious about lifting, you must have chalk in your stash!

    • Manta Ray - A squatting accessory made of soft plastic. This product promotes effective load distribution and prevents the bar from rolling or slipping. I didn't try it myself but the description is interesting and customer testimonials are very good. It's not very cheap.

      If you feel uncomfortable while doing squats or it's hard to keep your back straight you should try this "squat enhancer." You can also try 'Sting Ray' for front squats.

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      You can find all accessories for your workout here.

Nutrition:

    Nowadays probably everybody knows the importance of post workout nutrition. More and more people call post workout meal as most important meal of the day and it's definitely true! After hard and exhausting workout glycogen stores are low and protein breakdown is increased. You need to consume simple carbs and some protein quickly. Post workout meal may not be a problem if you are living few minutes away from gym, but to most people it takes much longer to travel back home ant prepare a meal. Then post workout shake comes into play.

    • Post Workout Supplements - PW supplements are getting more and more popular every day. Every time you finish your workout, you see more and more people drinking protein shake or popping amino acids after a hard workout. It's convenient and easy way to consume all nutrients needed for your body. Most popular PW supplements today are:

        Whey Protein - It's the highest quality and best form of protein today. In addition, it's digested very quickly (30min.) and it's excellent source of protein after your workout. You get a free shaker bottle with every bigger bodybuilding.com order so it's very easy to mix a tasty and nutrient rich shake and carry it to gym. You should get up to 50 grams of protein from whey after your workout.

        Dextrose - You may ask - why I need sugar after my workout? The answer is simple - your glycogen stores are dead low after your workout and you need to replenish them quickly. Dextrose (glucose) simple sugar derived from corns. It's cheap and has high glycemic index.

        It's perfect source of carbs straight after your workout. I suggest mixing about 50 grams of it to protein shake. Some people prefer weight gainers for post workout shake, but in my opinion, it's only waste of money. Keep it simple! Use dextrose!

        Amino Acids - Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. It can be very effective way to decrease protein breakdown after a workout. There are many amino acid blends in the market today, but I would prefer BCAA for post workout. BCAA prevent protein breakdown, glutamine breakdown and muscle damage. It's certainly an awesome product. I would suggest taking 10 gr. of BCAA right after your workout. Then drinking a protein shake after 30 minutes.


        [ BCAA's ]

        Creatine Ethyl Ester - Creatine Monohydrate's arrival to the supplement market nearly caused a revolution. Simply it's most popular and effective bodybuilding supplement on a market. However it's poorly absorbed by a body and scientists attached ester to creatine molecule.

        It greatly improved creatine and everybody are making amazing gains with this product. You should definitely try it. You should take 2.5 grams before and 2.5 grams after your workout. After you finish your workout - it's critical time when your body is craving for nutrients and creatine is best absorbed after a workout.

      You can find all supplements for your workout here.

    • Water - Hydration during a workout is not less important than anytime. You need to consume between 1-2 gallons a day. You should consume most of your daily liquids before and during the workout. Most gyms have vending machines and provides water, but I prefer to bring it from home. I always bring a few bodybuilding.com water bottles with me. I offer to sip water after every set and exercise.

Other Things That You Should Bring To Gym:

  • Hygiene Kit - Everybody knows the importance of proper hygiene so I won't explain it in a great detail. I strongly suggest taking a shower after a workout if your gym has one. Moreover, don't forget to choose and bring all essential things for it: towel, shampoo, shower gel, soap, sponge, deodorant, perfume, etc. It's up to you what you will use to keep yourself clean.

    Of course don't forget to bring some extra clothes and socks. You don't want to "kill" people with the smell of a good cardio workout.

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  • Workout Log - I would highly recommend to keep a track of your progress in gym. It's way easier to see if you are doing a good progress towards your goals when you keep your training diary up. So keep up your training diary.

    Write everything you want to: training routines, measurements, weight, note of sets, reps and weights, write down even the way you feel that day or what you think. It all helps to reach your goal.

  • Mp3 Player - It's not a necessary thing in gym, but sometimes it helps to keep you motivated. Some guys might not like gym music, so it's also worth to bring it at this case.

    Just make sure that you feel absolutely comfortable with your player. Falling earphones and cables can seriously distract you from primary thing in the gym - lifting weights.

RELATED POLL
Do You Bring Your Own Music To The Gym?

Yes, It Really Helps Motivate Me.
No, I Just Listen To The Sound Of Iron.

Things That You Should Not Bring To Gym:

  • Mobile Phone - You don't want to be distracted with long conversations during your workout!

  • Valuable Stuff - There's no need to bring all your money or jewelry to gym. You are not here to look beautiful. Leave all that stuff at home.

  • Kids & Pets - Bringing your child to gym can lead to disaster and leaving your barking dog outside is certainly bad if you want to concentrate. It could be an exception if your gym provides services for kids, but I would leave my child at home anyway.

  • Junk Food - Keep bad food away from you all the time! Especially when you are going to gym.


Gym Accomodation:
How do gyms accommodate their members? Are there any trends (good/bad) you see from gym to gym that might need to be emphasized/addressed?

Nowadays most gyms have many various facilities. Such as swimming pools, saunas, jacuzzis, tanning beds, various classes, basketball and tennis courts, etc. You should choose a gym regarding your concerns.

If you are serious about bodybuilding, you should leave all fancy health centers with swimming pools and choose good gym with sufficient range of free weights, machines and cardio equipment. You don't need anything more. Usually membership for this kind of gym is cheaper too.

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Hiring A Personal Trainer!
This article is presented as the first of a two part series to help you choose a trainer in a rapidly changing environment.

I think one of the biggest bad trends in gyms is poor knowledge of trainers. Every gym has instructor, but we can count good ones on a fingers of a single man. I'm in bodybuilding for a while and I saw really bad trainers at gyms.

I remember one very skinny guy in my old gym. He was training for years without any progress. He was always crying that he needs to gain weight. Fat or muscle, no matter what, but gain. He was strictly following a training routine made by a trainer. He trained every muscle group 2 times a week and he was doing cardio for almost an hour before every workout!

I tried to speak with him - how can you gain weight and muscle if you are doing almost 4 hours of cardio a week?! How can you build your muscle if you train after a one hour marathon on a treadmill?! But he blindly followed that workout anyway...

He supported his marathons that cardio is good for heart (sad and funny). Did not mentioned that the instructor was a "joke" too. He couldn't even bench 200 pounds.

So we can see that a bad gym instructor can certainly distance and destroy goals of person who's new to sport.

Another bad habit in gym would be free weights. I'm sick of people leaving weights everywhere. It's always a big hassle if you want to find small plates. You need to search all over the gym before you find them somewhere in the corner. I've been training in many gyms but "bring weight to its place" discipline was emphasized only in one. More gym trainers and owners should bring order to gyms.


Bonus:
What Do You Do With Your Kids When You Go To The Gym? Does Your Gym Provide Services For Children?

Actually, it's not a big problem for me because I don't have any children yet. But services for children at gym should be essential part of every gym. It's great to bring all family to gym. Both you and your partner could train while your child is having fun at the same time. Hassle with children would be avoided at this case.

However most gyms don't have services for children (my gym as well). Sometimes even worse - some gyms allow little kids in the training hall. It's dangerous and it creates a big distraction for bodybuilders. Gym management shouldn't allow this!


3rd Place - Hesh

If you want to succeed in bodybuilding you must be consistent going to the gym. After awhile our daily gym visits become very repetitive.

More and more people are thinking about health and wanting to get fit. More are joining gyms. Sadly, however, many of the new faces we see in January will no longer be around come March or April.

Skipping workouts is a slippery slope. So is giving less than 100%. So is cutting back the time spent at each gym visit. Persistence, therefore, is of paramount importance.

Psychologists say that intrinsic motivation is a more powerful driving force than extrinsic motivation. That is, those who do an activity "for its own sake" are more likely to stick with it than those who dislike performing the activity, but are doing so nonetheless in hopes of attaining long term rewards.

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My advice to those folks at a statistical disadvantage: create intrinsic value where none exists. Appreciate the altered state of mind. Savor the challenge. Learn from the experience. Think about how good it feels to be hoisting up more than the last time. Feel the pride in forcing yourself to transcend pain.

When the extrinsic motivation is lacking, employ intrinsic motivation, and likewise when intrinsic is lacking employ extrinsic. Do your best to up your levels of both types.


Preparation:
We all have our own styles, how do you prepare for the gym?

Prepare mentally to give your all. On the car ride to the gym, listen to fast paced, adrenaline inducing music. Picture yourself attacking those weights with a fury never before seen. Imagine your best session ever.

If you really want to be on top of your game, though, view preparation as a constant process that takes place day in and day out. Make physical fitness a way of life.

Listen to Eye of the Tiger. Think about Roman soldiers. Throw on an inspirational movie. Tape a picture of your favorite strongman or maybe a Greek god or two up on your bedroom wall so that this is the first thing you see upon awakening each morning.

Slap a couple pics on the fridge. Eat the natural foods that keep your immune system strong and your body functioning at an optimum level. Get sufficient rest. Steer clear of nicotine, alcohol, and junk food.


Clothes:
What Do You Wear? Do You Have Certain Clothes You Wear All The Time To The Gym?

Becoming overheated while exercising is not only an unpleasant feeling, but can also keep your workout from being less than optimal. Workouts should be function over fashion.

Aim for breathable, loose fitting apparel. (I like 100% cotton.) Remember too that light colored clothing absorbs less heat from the lights than does dark colored clothing.

Did You Know?
Bodybuilding.com t-shirts are great for working out or hanging out! They are thick and high quality! And Best of all, they're 100% cotton!

Personally, I'm accustomed to throwing on whatever I have on hand that is comfortable and gets the job done. Some bodybuilders, however, like to wear a lucky or special article of clothing. As long as this is does not compromise safety or interfere with your ability to do your best, I say more power to you!


Accessories:
What Do You Bring With You? What Shouldn't You Bring With You?

WATER is very important. Even slight dehydration can significantly impair performance. In addition, the muscles themselves are made up of not just protein but water. Drink as much water as you can stand while working out and continue to do so later throughout the course of the day.

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Aim for a gallon or two daily. This is especially important if you are taking creatine, whey, or caffeine, all of which dehydrate. Failure to down enough water means you can kiss those gains goodbye. The message: Don't forget that water bottle. (Or that gallon jug!)

H20's not the only thing you'll be dumping down your throat though. Oh man what was that other ingredient for making muscle? Oh right its PROTEIN.

As soon as your muscles have been worked to the max, it is important to get protein to them as quickly as possible. Have a protein shake really to go for on your way out of the gym or for on the ride home. Besides the optional creatine and glutamine, your post workout shake should include finely filtered whey protein, along with a simple carb and/or sugar to spike your insulin levels.

Shoot for as little fat and fiber as possible, as these will slow the absorption of protein. Many places of exercise sell post workout shakes, which can be helpful should you forget to bring yours. However, it is more economical to buy the ingredients in bulk ahead of time to make your own.

During the workout, your body is placed under a tremendous amount of stress. As soon as your mission is finished you want to start to relax, to help your body be in an anabolic state rather than a catabolic state.

Pack accordingly to unwind with a hot shower or take it easy in the sauna with a friend. Have an easy listening CD ready to go for the car ride home. Stress inducing items like cell phones and valuables won't be in your bag.


Gym Accomodation:
How do gyms accommodate their members?

Gyms are making more and more accommodations in hopes are attracting a larger membership. Special extras include showers, pools, saunas, temperature control, massages, extended hours, contests, stretching rooms, health information, vending machines, child care, complementary towels, and refresher courses.

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These extra accommodations, however, should have no influence on the frequency of which you visit the gym. Should you be financially unable to pay for the gym with all the extra frills, happily accept what you can afford. Don't let lack of whatever special feature you were hoping for act as an excuse as to why you aren't working out.

Champions wouldn't allow themselves to be held back by something so insignificant. If you want this bad enough, you'll find a way to make it happen. You don't need a fancy country club type gym to make gains.

Are There Any Trends You See From Gym To Gym That Might Need To Be Emphasized/Addressed?

    I'll start with the bad news first. Many higher end gyms now require prospective buyers to commit to an entire year and to also pay an initiation fee before they are able to join. The more they can get you to pay upfront, the better for them.

    Have you met with a cheerful hospitality tour guide? Keep in mind that those employees who so eagerly want you to sign a contract are paid commission. Trust them as much as you would a car salesman.

    A healthy amount of skepticism is in order: don't necessarily believe everything they are telling you unless you get it in writing.

    When buying a lifetime membership, check to see how long the club has been established to help make an educated guess as to how long they might be sticking around. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a scenario where the gym to which you belong goes out of business, thus rendering your expensive membership worthless. Don't make the mistake of needlessly wasting money that could be better spent on supps and clean food.

    Cautions aside however, I'd like to emphasize that no matter who you are joining with, a gym is one of the best investments you can make. Your health is worth it!

    Speaking of health, did you know that older folks are now the fastest growing demographic of new gym members? What an encouraging trend!

    More often than not in our society, the elderly live in heavily medicated, broken down bodies. It's almost as if we expect this and accept it to be normal (Flipping through the pages of National Geographic, I was shocked to see pictures of Asian farmers working well into their 80's, 90's, and even longer!). In many ways, prosperity can be a double edged sword. Years of inactivity and poor eating choices will take its toll.

    But here's the good news: lifting weights can not only add muscle (muscle mass declines with age in seniors) but will also increase increases bone density (which can help protect against breaks). Physical exercise may also help delay or prevent the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's.

    Alzheimer's Disease:
    A degenerative disease of the brain, characterized by clumps of neurofibrils and microscopic brain lesions and by confusion, disorientation, memory failure, and speech disturbances, and resulting in progressive loss of mental capacity.

    In other words, weight training may not only help the elderly experience a feeling of accomplishment, but may also allow them to hold on to their independence longer.

    One prominent example of this is fitness pioneer Jack Lalanne. Now age 91, his daily routine includes not only eating dinner at a restaurant and driving, but two hours of morning exercise! (My jaw almost hit the floor when I heard this.)

    If I'm ever feeling not in the mood to keep working out, I think about Jack. If he's 91 and can work out frequently then so can I. And so can you. Exercise is a healer, a valuable tool tragically underutilized.


Bonus:
What Do You Do With Your Kids When You Go To The Gym? Does Your Gym Provide Services For Children?

Children learn by example. Parents who go to a gym are being exemplary role models by setting a good example to the kids who look up to them and want to copy their behavior. What a wonderful thing for healthy habits to be ingrained in them from a young age. It is crucial to give your child (and yourself) the impression that exercise is a blessing and an opportunity rather than a chore.

Should your gym not provide child services and/or exclude those under 18 (as is the case with mine and many I've encountered); steps can still be taken to still ensure that the child remains active during this time.

Perhaps Junior could be dropped off at soccer practice while father hits the iron. Use your imagination. You have the power to shape a life for the better.


Review Of Other Articles
Or "Why Wasn't Mine Picked?"


Dallas68
    View Profile

Pro's

  • Good ideas/information

Con's

  • Some grammar errors.
  • Confusing organization. There was a lot of numbering, which became most confusing when feelings and ideas in the gym were listed. It seemed as if different sentences were numbered, rather than ideas.
  • Added little insight on the bonus question.
  • Comments
    There were some structure problems throughout the article. Some fragments, run-on sentences, capitalization, etc. effected the quality of the article. Nothing too major that cannot be fixed in this article.


nexttenamateur
    View Profile

Pro's

  • Informative

Con's

  • Could have explained why they bring all the items they listed to the gym. Their list should have just been organized into the question, "What do you bring with you" only, with reasoning, explaining why they are essential.
  • Too short. The information was good, but short when compared to the other articles information. Unfortunately, the article was not persuasive enough to compensate for the short information.
  • Comments
    This article answered the questions, but didn't use the detail or persuasion that some of the other articles provided.


Pecasaurous
    View Profile

Pro's

  • Good structure

Con's

  • Short answers. Many of the answers were short with little detail.
  • Failed to answer the question, "How do gyms accommodate their members."
  • Comments
    This article was a good start, but it was submitted during a very competitive week. Although a good article, it lacked the ideas and descriptions of the winners.


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