Tired of killing it in the gym for little to no payoff? Ready to recharge your workouts and recalibrate your training so you can start experiencing some real Results?
Often the difference between average and amazing is a minor adjustment here and there. Here are three things that you can do today to overhaul your workouts, boost their training effect and allowing you to finally start packing on some solid mass.*
Hack No. 1: Get in the Zone
Believe it or not, working out is more a mental than it is a physical game. Learn how to dial it in order to bring it home.
Before the Workout
(1) Mentally rehearse the workout in the hour before you hit the gym. See yourself grabbing the weights and powering through those last 3 difficult reps. Focus on your immediate goal, which is to do more than you did in your last workout – an extra rep, another 2 pounds of weight or a reduced rest between sets. Do this for every exercise to good results.
(2) Discuss your specific workout plans for that day with your buddies. Tell them you are absolutely focused on getting 8 reps with 30 pound dumbbells on the bench press. Put it out there.
(3) Surround yourself with positive people. Remember . . .
If you lay with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas.
Actively seek out people who will support you. They will pull you up when you need it and reinforce your daily goals.
(4) Be distracted early. When you first walk into the gym, pause to take in the surroundings. Check out who’s there and what’s different. Doing this early allows you not to be distracted when you flick the switch and your workout begins.
(5) Build up your inner drive. An hour before your workout, your engine should be idling at a 4. By the time you walk into the gym it should be up to a 7. During your warm-up, it’s reached 8.5. And by the time you pile the weight on for your first set, you’re hitting 10.
During the Workout
(1) Focus directly on the working muscle group. Get connected. If you are doing barbell curls, put your mind into your biceps. Let nothing else matter. That way you’ll be able to fully engage a muscle and recruit as many muscle fibers as possible.
(2) Switch off your brain. At least the part of it that is bent on sabotaging your workout. You know the part. It’s constantly trying to rationalize with you to get you to do less. So you don’t injure yourself. So you don’t run out of time. So you don’t over-train. Don’t negotiate with this side of your brain. Instead, tell your brain that what you’re doing is easy. Don’t focus on the weight that you’re lifting. Visualize your body as a machine, your arms, and legs as pistons, mechanically driving the weight up and down.
(3) Play mind games on yourself. This is a technique that professional athletes have been using for decades to produce almost superhuman results from their workouts. Tom Platz is a legend among bodybuilders for his amazing leg development. His workouts were the epitome of intensity. Here’s how he’d achieve it:
Platz would constantly play mental tricks on himself during a set. While doing a set of squats, for instance, he would convince himself that his wife had been kidnaped and that someone was holding a gun to her head. Unless he completed the prescribed number of reps, she would be dead.
Can you imagine the intensity that you could generate if that was your reality? Well, it can be. Here are some other mental tricks that you can play on yourself in order to demand more from yourself during those final difficult reps:
(1) Tell yourself that a millionaire has just offered you $1 million to get that next rep.
(2) Picture an imaginary spotter who is standing over you, helping you to eke out that last rep.
(3) Imagine that an explosion has just occurred in the part of your body that you’re working. Let the power of the blast explode you through that final rep (just don’t sacrifice form on this one).
(4) Insult yourself. Sometimes a little bit of strategic negative self-talk can work wonders. There’s a classic scene in Pumping Iron where Arnold Schwarzenegger is spotting Franco Columbu on a set of bench presses. Franco gets the weight stuck on his chest and, rather than helping him, Arnold calls him a ‘lazy bastard.’ Franco then grits his teeth and powers the weight back up. You don’t need Arnold around. Call yourself a lazy bastard (or the female version thereof).
(5) Make it a life or death experience. Picture yourself hanging off a cliff by your fingertips. If you can’t get that weight up, then your grip is going to fail and it will all be over.
(6) Get angry with the weights. Consider that they are challenging you, mocking you. They are calling you a loser. Don’t let them win. Be better than them. Call on your self-pride and defeat those nasty pieces of iron.
(7) View yourself as the hardest worker in the gym (keep it to yourself, you might appear cocky). Imagine that everyone knows that you are the hardest trainer there. You have a reputation to live up to. Don’t let them down.
Hack No. 2: Hack No. 2: Skip Between Sets
You need your rest between sets. If you’re training for muscular gain and strength, you should be resting between 90 and 120 seconds. But while your anaerobic system is resting, it’s a great time to work your cardiovascular system. Not only will this make your workout far more time efficient, it will also dramatically ramp up the calorie burn. So, what’s the most effective thing you can do? That’s a no-brainer . . .
Skipping involves almost every muscle in your body. At a quick pace, a 90 kg man can burn more than 1000 calories in an hour of skipping. That’s about 33 calories in a couple of minutes between your set. Skipping between sets will get you that leaned out, super defined look quicker than almost anything else you can do in the gym.
Hack No. 3: Focus on Compound Movements
Unless you get your choice of exercise right, you’re going to be wasting a lot of time in the gym for very little reward with any results. Heavy compound movements are the key to building muscle mass. These are the multi-joint movements that work a variety of muscle groups simultaneously. They also simulate real life movements, like squatting down or lifting something off the floor. Prime examples of compound movements are chin ups, squats, and the bench press. These exercises are not only the best way to build bulk and they will get you stronger quicker than anything else. And, because they work muscle groups simultaneously, they are far more time efficient than isolation movements.
The following exercises will form the basis of your training results:
- Pull Ups
- Bench Press
- Military Press
Working out is not just about the act of moving. It’s about training smart and getting your mind in the game. The three hacks outlined above will allow you be maximally engaged and in tune with your workout, while maximizing every second that you’re in the gym and ensuring that every movement that you’re performing is giving you maximum bang for your buck.
This website offers health, fitness and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis treatment. This website does not promise any specific results, as each individual responds differently to training. The author of this article is not a medical professional.