Once you’ve completed your pre-workout routine it’s time to do some work, and most of all, have some fun!
In this second installment of my Workout Routine series, I’ll share what I do during my workout that keeps me focused, full of energy, and working hard. If you missed part I click here!
Now, the only way to actually get fit and in the shape you want is to do work. Plain and simple. There are no short-cuts or magic supplements you can take that will make you look like Arnold. However, there are certain routines, tactics, habits, and hacks that you can do to reach your fitness goals faster, keep them and progress.
So, what are they?
Well, there are many methods and ways out there (check out Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Body and you will see many ideas about this), but for starters, I’ll share what core haibts I follow that help keep me full of energy, working hard, and in focus.
I wouldn’t really call it a routine per se, but these are the good habits and elements that keep me consistent and working hard to achieve my fitness goals.
- Do main lifts first
- Stimulate my mind
- Avoid my phone
- Listen to my body
Main Lifts First
There are countless programs out there to build muscle and each has their own unique method and philosophy. That being said, however, what I’ve noticed, and the best results I’ve gotten to build strength and muscle, is to start with your main lifts or movements first.
For instance, you wouldn’t start with an accessory movement, like dumbbell flies, if you were working your upper body for the day. You would probably start with something like the bench press–a compound lift that works multiple muscle groups–and then do flies later as an accessory that helps work individual muscles.
Essentially, you’re starting with your foundation and working your way up the pyramid, so to speak. This is a philosophy in it’s own right, I know, but I think only doing sexy isolation exercises (dumbbell curls anyone?) will hurt you in the long run because you neglect a strong functional body.
In addition, main compound lifts are taxing on your body and if you started with isolation exercises first you would probably be worn out because of all the work you did already. This most likely will cause poor performance and even injury.
That’s why I always do main lifts first if I’m lifting.
Stimulate the Mind
I think you’ve got to stimulate the mind when you workout.
Whether that’s listening to music, a podcast, or an audio book, I think if you don’t stimulate the mind in some way, you lose intensity, focus, and your time. It just makes perfect sense to me to do one of those things.
For instance, you may lose intensity because you may need that bit of extra external stimulation to get fired up and complete your last set. This is where music fits in, and for me, is an absolute requirement, especially for lifting. I wrote a previous post about the effect music has on working out and I think there’s no doubt that it really does have a significant and positive effect on your workout (click here to read it!). Heavy metal is my preferred genre (Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, LOG, AX7 to name a few), but just find something that gets you in the right mindset and zone to perform the work at hand.
In addition, if you’re one of those in the minority (a guess on my part, haha) that doesn’t listen to music while working out, why not listen to a podcast or audio book? Stimulate your mind to learn something or just even get you in a good mood because it’s entertaining for you. From my experience, it does take some getting used to, but once you acclimate to it it becomes normal.
That’s why I stimulate my mind.
I think the phone is probably the biggest and most annoying distraction there is at the gym. If you’re not using it then someone else probably is and it may affect you.
I may be in the minority, but one of my biggest pet peeves is when I see people hogging equipment and all they’re doing is playing around on their phone. If you’re expecting someone to call because it’s important that’s one thing. If you’re just checking Facebook, Instagram, or playing a game, then quite frankly, why are you even at the gym? If you’re going to be on your phone let someone who actually wants and needs to use the equipment actutally use it.
Don’t be a douchebag.
And, for whatever reason that you think you have to look at your phone, it’s probably really not that important anyway. Your life does not depend on liking a post or a photo. Take a break for once and put it on do not disturb and have some fun working out. You’ll talk to your friends on social media right after.
Trust me. You will be ohhhkay.
And, constantly checking your phone is a big distraction to getting into a flow working out and working hard. If you need to take a picture take it quick. But, be considerate to others and most of all yourself because looking at your phone means you’re not working and not getting better.
That’s why I don’t look at my phone when working out.
If you’re a workout warrior sometimes you can totally forget to hydrate yourself properly. And, depending upon what type of workout you might be doing (i.e. cardio or a circuit) fluids may be even more vital to keep your body in peak performance and avoid any injury or sickness.
Obviously, water should always be with you and you should drink it often. I mean you are roughly 70% water right? I’m not saying you have to chug a bottle after every set, but taking a sip or two frequently will ensure your body is able to perform and function like it should.
In addition, you should leave the Gatorade or other sugary drink for high intensity sport or cardio because your main fuel source will be glucose and your body will need it in high demand. Drink it only when necessary.
Regardless, make sure to stay hydrated.
Listen to Your Body
Training smart is just as important as training hard and it starts by listening to your body.
If you push, push, and push and don’t listen to what your body is telling you it’s snap city and injuries waiting to happen.
I’ve been there and know when you don’t feel your best or something happens during your workout that doesn’t feel right, it’s time to stop and reevaluate your situation for a moment. Being a badass is cool and all, but not if your at your house in front of the TV because you tore a muscle you’re not (that was me and not fun!).
I bring this up because we all want to be mentally tough like Navy Seals and whatever happens we keep going until the mission is done. However, mentally toughness can also can be a double edged sword because we risk over training and causing ourselves to fry our central nervous system, prevent us from gaining muscle (click here to learn why), and cause injury to name a few things.
If you really expect to get a PR every time you train you either are a newbie or don’t know shit. If this was true I would be squatting 700lbs, deadlifting 8, and benching 5. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
That’s why I’m smart and listen to my body.
Well, there you have it! My routine habits that keep me going strong. Nothing flashy or sexy, but just what works.
But, what are your habits and routine during your workout? Tell me by leaving a comment down below.
As always, thanks for stopping by and reading. Until next time, be strong and be you!