Once you arrive at the gym, you feel even more pumped, more ready to go. Energy is sky-high, your strength is through the roof, you set a couple of new PR's, and you remember why you got into this sport in the first place.
Pain is your friend, and the sweat running down into your eyes, the lactic acid causing your quads to scream, and the queasiness that makes you think your protein shake might just come back up to greet you again are all signs that you're having one kick-ass workout. You pump out a few more reps, heck, a few more sets, and just when the people staring at you think you're done, you move on for a few more exercises.
After you're so fried that you can't walk to the locker room without looking like you're suffering from the worst case of constipation imaginable, you drag yourself to the car, chug your shake down, and on the way home think, "Man, why can't every workout be like that workout?!" Well, I'm here to tell you that it can!
There are many factors that go into the "perfect workout," and I'll break them down to you so that you can be sure to get the most out of your training, equating to more strength, more mass, and a better reason to hit the iron every day!
Factor 1 - Hydration
So, you don't think staying hydrated has anything to do with how good your workouts are? Well, think about this. At 2% dehydration, your performance is reduced by 10-20%. Muscles are 75% water!
If you're not fully hydrated, your lifting will suffer and your gains will suffer. In addition to reduced performance levels, dehydration can cause any of the following symptoms:
- Digestion problems
All of which negatively affect your workout. Drink at least 1 gallon of water daily, and drink 1-2 liters starting the hour before you train and ending the hour after you train.
Factor 2 - Meal Timing
This has to be one of the most important of all factors in getting a good workout. You should already be eating 5-8 meals a day consisting of lean proteins, complex and fibrous carbohydrates, and healthy fats. If so, meal timing requires just a little more work.
You need good protein and complex carbohydrates prior to your workout to fuel your lifting session, and to have
amino acids readily available for muscle repair during and post-workout.
The best meal to eat is one consisting of whole foods. They are sustained in the body much longer. A chicken breast and some brown rice are a great option.
If pressed for time, try a whole-grain protein bar such as Tri-o-Plex.
Eat this meal 1-2 hours before you train so that it has time to digest, making the nutrients available to your body and eliminating any bloating or discomfort associated with training too soon after eating.
After you train, you have about a 45-minute window to give your body the necessary nutrients to begin repairing your muscles and to restore your glycogen.
Don't miss this vital opportunity to jump-start muscle growth! This is the one time that you want to get a good insulin spike, which will provide a shuttling system to send all the amino acids into the muscles you just fried, and begin the growth process.
Whey protein is essential, with its fast absorption rate. Couple that with some fast-acting carbohydrates, like honey or dextrose, and you are doing your body more good than you could imagine.
Follow this meal with another whole-food meal about 2 hours after that, and be sure to get a good serving of complex carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, or oats.
To Learn More About Pre/Post-Workout Nutrition Click Here.
Factor 3 - Supplement Timing
Supplements have usage instructions for a reason. They give you directions on the optimal time to take the supplement so that you can get the most use out of it.
- Animal Pak
- Animal M-Stak
You might consider it an extra pain to lug your supps to work so that you can take them pre-workout, but if you're serious about your goals then this is a necessary step.
Plan your pre-workout supplements so that they are ingested about 15-30 minutes after your pre-workout meal and 45 minutes prior to your training session. They will be digested and in your system as soon as you start training.
I recommend the following pre-workout supplements:
Factor 4 - Motivation
There are some days when you may do all of the above and you still don't feel a rush to go to the gym. We all have times when we need a motivational kick-start, and we all have different ways of getting it.
You have to find what works for you. Maybe it's taping pictures of Ronnie on your fridge, or blasting your favorite CD on your way to the gym. My personal favorites are keeping a workout journal and food log, watching contest videos, and setting mini goals for myself.
The accountability involved in journaling can be very motivating, especially if it's an online journal where others can read and offer support. Watching videos or looking at pictures online are great ways to get pumped up to lift.
Finally, by setting mini goals every 4-8 weeks, you keep your "eyes on the prize," and you have a reason to be in there working your butt off.
To Learn More About Motivation Click Here.
Factor 5 - Rest
Last, but by no means least, is the rest factor. If you're over-trained or not sleeping well, you won't be able to get in kick-ass workouts, period.
If you don't think you have time to sleep, then you aren't serious about reaching your goals.
Sleep should be as much a priority as training itself.
Try for 7-8 hours nightly, or if you can't get that then try for an afternoon nap.
Even just lying down for 15-30 minutes can help. Take at least one full day off from the gym per week where you do no lifting or cardio.
The five factors I've listed above are easy to follow if you are dedicated to your goals and you want to be your best. As a bodybuilder, you should want to take advantage of every possible variable that affects the way you train, which ultimately results in what type of physique you end up with.
If you want your best workouts every time you train, follow these 5 steps and I guarantee it will happen. Train heavy, train hard, and until next time!