Habits are awesome, powerful things. Once we learn that we do have control over these sneaky little buggers, and once we have made working out a habit, we can go even further by adopting a series of other mini-habits to take our workouts and fitness to the next level.
The best part about habits?
After a while, we don’t have to think about doing them anymore. They literally become hard-wired into our brains. Once something becomes a habit, we don’t really need to think about why, how or when we need to do it. We just do.
Here are six workout habits you need to master to kick two butt-cheeks full of ass at the gym–
1. Recording Your Results.
Sure, it can feel a little bit like homework, and there are times after a workout where the only thing you want to do is plop down on the coach and shut your brain off. But keeping a workout log can dramatically help you improve your results in a myriad of ways.
Here are the two best reasons to keep one:
- Detect patterns in your sleep, diet and exercise regimen which can unlock the reason(s) behind optimal or sub-par output at the gym.
- Keep track of weights, reps and sets. With dozens of exercises, varying weights and repeats it can be difficult to remember exactly what we did two weeks ago for sumo deadlifts. Having a logbook insures that you are consistently progressing, and not regressing or plateauing.
2. Plan Your Workout Schedule for the Week/Month/16-Week Cycle/Etc.
Having a plan when you go into something – whether it is a new workout routine, a job interview, or even the grocery store helps you stay focused on exactly what needs to be done. Those who prefer to fly by the seats of their pants are the window-gazers of life, always on the fence and never really sure about what they want. Go in, kick ass, walk out.
3. Cool Down.
Low intensity movement after a particularly taxing workout can greatly improve results over the long term. It’s not the slight exertion that is necessarily beneficial, but that the low level movement improves recovery by processing and flushing metabolic waste, bringing your muscles back to their typical, rested length, and also gives you a mental flush of sorts, bringing you back to everyday life.
4. Post-Workout Nutrition.
Once your workout is completed, the goal is recovery and recuperation so that you can get back to 100% soon you can return to the gym.
Believe it or not, chocolate milk is one of the best things you can take after your workout to replenish your muscles and recover. It has a good balance of carbs to replace muscle glycogen stores, as well as protein to begin repairing muscle, as well as a barrage of vitamins and minerals to help speed the recovery process. (Plus chocolate milk is pretty much the best drink ever made. Boom!)
5. Cozy Up to Your Pillow.
The amount of sleep you should be getting should correspond with the amount of work you are putting into the gym. It’s not uncommon for athletes to take a serious nap in the midst of two-a-days (I sure loved them back in my competitive swimming days), but with the go-go-go mindset that is instilled in us by a world that is speeding past us it can become easy to sacrifice sleep in the name of productivity.
Not only is sleeping supremely enjoyable, but your body absolutely requires it to recover optimally.
6. Form, Form, Form.
How often do you hear people brag about their form at the gym? Yup, never. What you hear is an endless variation of “I benched 315 six times last week.” Our competitiveness is to blame here; we want to be constantly improving and besting the next guy or gal, so so what if we have to cut a couple corners to tack on an extra ten pounds to our personal bests?
Keeping good form insures that you don’t develop nasty muscle imbalances down the road, insures that you are getting the maximum results with the weights you are using, and also helps you develop real strength, unlike that dickhead with the mullet full-body swinging 70lb dumbbells for hammer curls.