Congratulations, you’ve finally made it into the gym! Just being there and wearing the right Gymshark leggings will give you those perfectly toned legs, right? Wrong. Let’s be honest, we’re all pretty impatient and want those results NOW. Unfortunately, sculpting the perfect bod takes a lot of time, effort and consistency. Let me fill you in on a little secret, it takes even longer if you aren’t using the proper techniques to maximize your workout. I hate to burst your bubble, but throwing plates on a barbell and squatting until you want to die won’t be enough to give you the bikini butt you’re trying to get. Knowing a few key tricks before going into the gym will help you get the most out of your workout and ultimately help you see results much faster – that is IF your diet is in check, folks.
Super helpful tip #1: BREATHE. Too often do I see boys with purple faces on a bench press and gasping for air after failing to complete the last couple of reps in a set. Do not be mistaken ladies, he is really not that hard of a worker – he’s simply an idiot who does not know how to breathe properly and in turn is not using his chest muscles the right way, thus giving him the chest he has…or lack of a chest I should say. Not to hate on the guys because girls do this too, but breathing is one of the most important components of exercise. Allowing proper air flow into your body allows the muscles to contract the way they need to. I can tell you this right now, there is absolutely no point in lifting weights if you are going to hold your breath the entire time.
Super helpful tip #2: Focus on form, not weight. Even the most “experienced” lifters suffer from lack of proper form. Your mindset going into any exercise should be this: If I find I can no longer do the exercise with proper form with each rep, then I need to stop. I will say it again: If you cannot do the exercises the right way, then do not do them at all. There is no need to get discouraged, there are ways to modify just about any exercise to target the same muscle groups, some forms just require a much higher level of balance and core strength to complete. If you see something on instagram from your favorite workout guru that you are dying to try, do not be surprised if you find you are unable to do the exercises. It is not that you are weak, it just means the way that person is performing the exercise may not be what’s right for you and your balance and/or core strength levels. If you are new to the weight room, I strongly suggest taking the time necessary to master the basics FIRST. Once you have mastered the proper form of the squat, leg press, bench press, etc., it is then and ONLY then should you consider trying fancy variations of these exercises. You will get there,
One thing you will notice with proper form is that you may not be able to complete as many reps as you could before or that you are unable to lift the same amount of weight. That is perfectly okay, this just means your muscle groups are being activated the right way. This will lead to those groups properly developing so that there is not an imbalance of strength that develops over time. The way to approach any exercise would be to start with a low weight and use the right technique and build your way up with weights. Keep in mind, this is not a sprint by any means. You are paving the way for a healthier lifestyle in the long run, who cares how long it takes to master the basics? You will be working to maintain a proper workout regimen for the remainder of your life.
Super helpful tip #3: Go to the gym fewer times a week. This is crazy, being fit means going to the gym every day for several hours, right? WRONG. This is one of the biggest lessons you can learn when it comes to fitness and living a healthier lifestyle. Scientific studies have proven time and time again that working out and lifting weights in the gym three days a week is just as beneficial and can prove the same results if not better than if you were to go to the gym every day. The truth of the matter is, it all depends on HOW you are using your time in the gym. Training at max intensity three times a week and truly obliterating your muscles in the gym a few times a week will prove much better results than if you were to complete six or seven mediocre workouts on a daily basis. This can cause serious strain or injury to your muscles and joints in the long run.
Anyone who follows my social media knows that I usually go to the gym every day, so in a way I feel a little hypocritical preaching this to all of you. However, I try go to the gym as often as possible because I truly love it with a passion. Just as a bottle of wine and a citrus bath bomb may be your go-to for stress relief, the gym is mine. For me, the gym is like a second home, it is where I can really take an hour or two to really focus on improving and bettering myself. However, I know this is not the case for most people, and that is perfectly okay. The majority of my friends do not like working out, but do so because they prioritize their health and want to live long, healthy lives and I’m sure all of you do as well.
If you find that your main reason for not going to the gym is because you do not have the time to go every day, that’s okay, you do not need to. Despite having such a passion for lifting, I am human and life gets very hectic between my classes at Ohio State and working as a model on call 24/7. Last semester I had a couple of days out of the week where I had class from 8 am til 9 p.m., so I had to accept that those days I would not make it to the gym. I didn’t worry though, because I knew my intensity levels and form on the days I did train were on point. So do not stress, all you need are a few hours a week that you can truly dedicate to yourself in order to achieve the results you desire.
From a physiological standpoint, training fewer days a week will not only give your muscles the proper time they need to recover, but it will also allow your mind to fully reset and focus more intensely during your workouts on the days you decide to train. We have all been there, after training for ten or twelve days in a row that we are not only physically but mentally exhausted. When this happens, it is easy to confuse this feeling for a lack of motivation. The truth is, it’s not that you’re not motivated, you just need a break. Take a few days off and don’t think about the gym or what your next split will look like. Just focus on the many other layers of your life that need attention as well. You do not need to make working out your life if you want to have the physique you desire. Listen to your body and return to the gym when you feel you are ready to.
Super helpful tip #4: Focus on the intensity of the workout, not the length. I touched on this slightly in the previous tip. Just as going to the gym fewer times a week can be more beneficial for your health and fitness goals, so can working out for a shorter amount of the time…as long as you increase the intensity. Rather than spending an hour on an elliptical going the same speed, try doing thirty second sprint intervals on a treadmill for 10 minutes. The same technique can be used on a stair master or bike, simply pick your poison and go after it. There are ways to increase the intensity in any exercise you are doing, it just takes a little bit of practice. The idea is to get your heart rate up as high as possible with as little downtime as possible to max out your muscles as quickly as possible. The idea of a workout is to push yourself to your breaking point right? If you max out your body in a shorter amount of time, there is no need to stay in the gym for hours at a time.
So now do you not only have to go to the gym fewer times a week, you also don’t have to workout nearly as long to achieve the results you want. Not what you were expecting, huh? Believe me, I was just as shocked as you are when I first discovered this. Regardless, you will not see any results unless you are providing your body with the proper nutrients it needs to survive. No amount of training will supplement for poor dietary habits. Happy Motivation Monday folks, keep working hard and trust the process. Know that you will get there!