Each and every time we walk into the gym we hope to walk out a better version of ourselves.
Fitter. Stronger. Healthier.
But when we only have so much time devoted to our workout routines, how do we squeeze more out of the time spent there?
Here are five simple ways that anyone can get the most from their workouts starting today:
1. Watch video of lifters with great form pre-workout.
The effects of watching lifters killing it on YouTube is twofold—first, by watching the videos you are internalizing how to properly lift. This might not seem like a big deal, or that it should help you out in your workouts, but the simple “monkey see, monkey do” effect is legit.
A couple decades ago a scientist named Giacomo Rizzolatti and his team at the University of Parama found what has become to known as mirror neurons in a group of test monkeys. These particular cells lit up in moments where the monkey performed an activity, or when another monkey performed the exact same action.
These mirror neurons showed that one of the fastest ways we could learn how to properly execute a specific action or movement and also how to reinforce it was to watch someone else do it first.
The second effect of watching people do work at the gym is that, well, it is motivating! Seeing someone else at the gym doing the things required to achieve their fitness goals can help give you that extra little bit of workout motivation to get your ass out of the door.
So line up a couple go-to guys or gals on YouTube who use excellent form and load up some videos before you hit the gym.
2. Set daily and weekly targets for what you want to achieve in the gym.
Performance-based targets are a painfully simple way to keep your game tight at the gym. Why do I say painfully? Because so few people actually bother to sit down and write themselves out goals and targets for how they want to perform in the gym.
I see it almost every day: someone will walk into the gym, walk around from machine to machine, not really focused or engaged, making up their workout on the fly, and as a result not doing the amount of work they could be doing.
Before your next workout write out what you want to achieve. What you want to lift. How much core work you want to complete.
And be ambitious.
Seek to strive to push your limits. To do it a little bit better, to lift just a little bit more, with just a little bit better technique.
Each day doesn’t need to be a PB day, but you should be able to walk out of the gym with your held high because you accomplished something.
3. Write out your workouts.
The idea of having to jot down your workouts, either mid-workout or after you have gone home and powered down on the couch with protein shake in hand, might seem like a bit of homework, but the consistent use of a workout log can provide massive dividends.
Just how massive?
How would you like to be more consistent in the gym? Keeping a workout log helps you with that.
How would you like to be accountable to what you say you will do? Yup, a workout log can help there too.
How about staying motivated and on track for longer in the gym? Writing out your workouts will absolutely help you there as well.
The best part? They are cheap and totally customizable to your level of OCD’ishness.
4. Scale progress.
It seems to be human nature that we want to go from a novice to an expert overnight.
Whether we had the innate patience to begin with is debatable—for as long as humans have been around we have constantly been looking for shortcuts—but in order to see the truly ridiculous improvements you want to see in the gym you need to be realistic and patient.
Lacking either of those two attributes means you are creating ridiculous expectations for yourself that are impossible to live up to.
- Want to add 100 pounds to your squat? It’s going to take longer than a couple months.
- Add 15 pounds of muscle? See above.
- Drop half a second in your 40 yard dash in a week? Fat chance.
The only way around this—and I get it, I get madly impatient as well—is to scale.
You won’t add 100 pounds to your squat in a week, but you can add 5.
And that is a start.
5. Make a non-negotiable schedule for your workouts.
“I’d love to spend the extra time necessary to get into shape, but I just don’t have the time.”
This excuse just kills me.
It displays a meekness and defeatism that our time somehow rules us. That we woke up one day, and suddenly our schedule grew a Stalinesque mustache and played time-keeper with our day.
At the end of the day, I promise you that there is someone who is way busier than you that is finding the time they need to workout.
Excellence in the gym doesn’t just happen—it’s something that you literally have to schedule.
Carve out a chunk of your day, and make everything else work around it. You’ll find that extra time in a hurry when your gym time becomes a non-negotiable part of your day.
Not only will an iron-clad schedule mean that you will last the time you are penciled in for at the gym, but it will keep you more consistent over the long haul (and that is where the real results start to pour in).
If that means you gotta cut some time off your couch watching television, congratulations, you just did yourself twice the favor. If that means less time staring at your social feeds, you’re welcome. In the hour that you are going to be at the gym your friends and followers aren’t going anywhere.