Going to the gym is one thing, but doing the same routine over and over isn’t going to get you fitter or stronger. You’ve crossed the hurdle of actually going, but now you have to up your game if you want to keep on seeing results. So how do you improve on last time and build more muscle each time you go? Here are 5 ways to get stronger working out.
1. Up the ante
Muscles get bigger when you break them down. Your strength is measured in the maximum you can lift, so why stick to the same old 3 sets of 12 reps of 8kg. That isn’t going to get you anywhere. Obviously you have to start somewhere, so start there, but you need to train closer to your repetition maximum to really see results. Ever heard of body builders talking about ‘training to failure’? This literally means pushing yourself so hard that by the end of your workout you are unable to do one more rep. This type of training stresses your muscles causing them to break down and rebuild, stronger.
2. Switch up your routine
Just because your aim is to build arms, don’t solidly do arms, remember that your muscles complement each other, so by working on your abs and giving yourself a strong core this will allow you to stabilize better and lift more. If you just stick to the one routine, your body will get used to it and figure out how to cut corners, so you might think you’re working out, but actually you may as well be on the sofa for all the good it’s doing you. Also start your routine with resistance training, this sounds counter-intuitive, but if you ‘warm up’ by getting a sweat on you’ll have spent all your energy running, so by the time you come to throw the big weights around you’ll have nothing left in the tank. By doing cardio second it will give you a chance to stretch out those muscles you’ll have just worked hard.
3. Stay hydrated.
Water isn’t dull or overrated. In fact it’s underrated and underappreciated. It’s not known as the life giving resource for nothing. Your body requires 2-3 liters of water per day when you’re training, don’t be tempted by the sugar packed energy drinks; stick with water or a solid preworkout drink like Dymatize’s PRE WO and you won’t go wrong.
4. Eat right.
In order to build muscles your body needs calories to burn. And not just any calories, it needs the good ones. You need to consume protein-rich whole foods that will nourish your muscles: think fruit and veg, fish, eggs, lean meats and whole grains. Avoid processed, sugar-laden or foods with high levels of sodium
If you’re going to take protein supplements to help build muscle consider taking creatine, an amino acid that is produced naturally in your body to help build strong muscles.
5. Get some rest.
Don’t be under the illusion that you only get stronger by being in the gym, the changes actually occur when you’re resting. Your body needs time to rebuild the muscle that you broke down with that last super-set. So if you want to get ripped, enjoy your rest days, just don’t stay out late drinking with your buddies! If you have to do something during your off days make it a gentle run or bike ride, nothing that seriously strains any muscle group.