Make a Plan
Be sure to take a few minutes at the beginning of the week to plan out your workouts. I find it easiest to make my plan on Sunday evening when I’m relaxing. The benefits of making a simple plan are so immense! First you are less likely to flake on your gym session if you go into the day knowing exactly what you are going to do. Mentally I have come to view my workout as one more important item on my to-do list rather than an optional activity after work. Plus having a plan will help you from overtraining a specific part of your body. By planning adequate amount of rest days to be taken before training the same muscle group you can cut down your likelihood getting an injury.
Don’t be distracted during your workout or at the gym. Sometimes it’s hard to put the brakes on your to-do list when you’re at the gym but try to keep yourself from responding to email or trying to figure out the 20 other things you still need to do. There is no way to put 100% into your workout when your mind is somewhere else and like anything in life you only get out what you put in so be sure to put in everything that you have! But more importantly when you are not fully engaged in your workout you are more likely to get injured. Focus on your movement and form to be sure that you are doing the exercises correctly.
The saying goes ‘if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you’ and its absolutely true but be sure to not push yourself too hard. What’s considered challenging will differ from person to person depending on so many factors like age, gender, and athletic ability. A great way to assess if you are challenging yourself or not is by wearing a heart rate monitor during your workouts. I aim to have 2-3 workouts per week that have me reach my max heart rate and I’m at 8 or 9 maximum effort. The other 2-3 workouts I try to stay in the cardiovascular training zone at a 6-7 effort.
Cool Things Down
When you decide to skimp on your cool down and stretching you are only hurting your progress. When you stop abruptly while your heart rate is elevated dizziness or fainting can occur. So be sure to safely and slowly lower your heart rate back down by ending your run with a walk, or slowing down the speed and intensity on any cardio equipment. Also at the end of your workout your muscles are warm and pliable so doing static stretching is far safer.
Don’t be frightened of lifting something heavier than a five pound weight. Once again the saying ‘if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you’ comes into play. You should be having difficulty during the last few reps of your set. I aim to do 15 – 20 reps per set and struggle during my last few reps. If you set the weight to light or heavy don’t be shy to change it and start your set over again; it’s your workout so get the most out of it. By building lean muscle will turn your body into a calorie burning machine since the more muscle mass you have the higher your resting metabolic rate. And don’t worry about the bulk women don’t have enough testosterone to bulk!