A gym is like a jungle, everyone does their thing. If there are 200 members, there will be 200 routines and 200 ways to see and do things. However, there are a number of elements that you should take into account and that, regardless of the training routine you are doing or the diet you follow, these tips will serve you, or at least that is my intention.
1. Cardio after training
Cardiovascular exercise is a tool that we will use according to our goals. There are basically 2 types of cardiovascular exercise, the high intensity (HIIT) and the low intensity (LISS) but in turn, there are many ways to do it (swimming, running, cycling, weight circuits, elliptical, rowing machine … ). We must know that cardiovascular exercise is different from the training we do in the gym. It has nothing to do with it.
The main function of weight training is to create muscle mass, but the function of cardiovascular exercise is to help us burn more calories and therefore help us lose fat.
If they have 2 different objectives we cannot include them in the same bag, they are 2 types of training, so my recommendation is to do them at 2 different times within the same day (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) or on different days ( one day weight training and another day cardiovascular training) so that they do not influence each other.
However, since we can’t always do this, if you are going to put both workouts together make sure to include weight training BEFORE cardio . The reason is that to lift weights you need to be fresh and you need to have your glycogen stores full and this will not happen if you do the cardio first. In addition, doing cardio after training has another advantage and that is that since you have previously trained with weights, your muscle glycogen has been partially or completely expended, so when you do cardiovascular exercise, your body will use fat stores more easily.
2. Progression is everything
Every time you go to the gym, your training should be better than the previous one. You must go forward. If your workouts do not improve, you should do something about it, perhaps change the routine, the exercises, the series … Keep in mind that muscles grow because they adapt to a new environment. If the environment is always the same (you always use the same weight for the same repetitions), they will have no reason to grow.
The muscles don’t want to grow. You must be the reason for them to grow.
You can progress in different ways. One of the clearest is the weight you use. If you move more weight with each workout, you are on the right track. If you maintain the same weight from one workout to the next but are doing more reps, you are also making progress. And finally, if you use the same weight and do the same repetitions but take less rest time between sets, you are also making progress.
These are the 3 most basic forms of progression. So remember, never stop progressing.
3. Prioritize compound exercises
It is well known that compound movements have the ability to add more muscle mass to your physique, so you should prioritize these types of exercises.
When I talk about compound movements I am not referring exclusively to the 3 powerlifting movements (squat, deadlift and bench press) which are great exercises but they are just that, exercises. You should not lock yourself in only those 3 movements. There are many exercises that involve several muscle groups at the same time such as chin-ups, shoulder presses, rows, farmer’s walks, squat variants …
Use these exercises as the basis for your training . There is a place for accessory or isolation exercises and you should add them as well, but these should never be the core of your training.
4. Work the muscle, do not move the weight
If your goal is to have an aesthetic body , then who cares how much weight you lift? Your job when you enter the gym is to stimulate the muscle or muscles that you have to train that day. It is useless to load the bar with as much weight as possible and ask a partner to help you from the first repetition. This does not work like that, you must learn to contract the muscle with each repetition.
This is quite difficult at first, but with practice, you will learn to feel the muscle when it is working and it will be much easier to train it.
Over the months and years of training, your strength will increase , you will be able to move more and more weight (see tip 2) but this requires a process, a process that slows down as you gain experience in the gym.
You need to be strong, but the force must be exerted by the correct muscles in each exercise.
5. Always heat
Warming up is an essential part of training. You have to prepare the muscles for the work they will do later.
Warming up not only serves to improve performance, it is a health issue. A good warm-up will help you prevent injuries and be more focused on your training afterwards.
I will not elaborate on this point because I already wrote an article where I go into more detail on this matter.
6. Target-tailored rep range
You have to be consistent with your goals . If your goal is to develop your body or a specific part of your body, you cannot be doing sets of 2 and 3 repetitions. You are not a powerlifter so don’t train like one.
It is possible to increase hypertrophy by training at very low repetitions, but it is not optimal. Remember that your body does not want to build muscle mass, so you must focus all your efforts on that goal if you want to achieve it. It is not worth wanting to be great, wanting to be strong and at the same time being defined.
Find your goal and focus on the steps you must take to achieve it, do not try to chase 2 birds at the same time.
In my opinion, anyone looking for aesthetics should do less than 4-5 reps for no reason and should especially focus on the 6-15 rep range, even more for some muscles and for some moments.
70% of your muscles are water so DRINK PLENTY OF WATER.
Water is essential for survival so imagine how important it is while you are subjecting your body to enormous stress, such as weight training.
Drinking water helps your body perform its vital functions while lubricating the joints. NEVER forget water during a workout.
Note well, that I said WATER. Don’t use «sports» energy drinks, which are nothing more than sugary concoctions for your body to process. These drinks can have their place in other sports or activities where the efforts are more prolonged, but in a training session at the gym you do not need that sugar. Stick to the water.
8. The phone outside
We live in the information age. All of us have a smartphone and we live attached to it. There is no way it will stop ringing for 5 minutes straight. We get calendar notifications, WhatsApp messages, Facebook notifications, new Twitter followers, Instagram likes… We even get calls sometimes!
Such is the dependence on the phone that if we go 15 minutes without receiving any notification, we think that our mobile has broken.
These distractions are very dangerous for the gym. If you dedicate an hour a day to changing your body, make it an hour, but an hour without interruptions . Turn off your phone or put it in «do not disturb» mode or in any other mode that allows you to train without distractions. If you are training, you are training.
9. Unilateral work
Many times we focus on exercises where both sides of our body work equally, generally this happens when using bars.
By doing this, we are generating more force and can move more weight, but as you have read before, weight is not always the key.
You may have one side of your body that is not as developed as the opposite. If you are right-handed, for example, your right side may be overdeveloped compared to the left and when performing these types of exercises your strong (right) side works more and therefore it will continue to become even stronger increasing this decompensation.
Unilateral work is a good mechanism to correct and prevent these imbalances. That one part of your body works independently of the opposite makes both work efficiently and also helps other stabilizing muscles to get more involved since it is more difficult to stabilize the weight when it only falls on one side of your body.
To perform unilateral training a very good way to do it is to use dumbbells, elastic bands or even some machines . Make sure to include one-sided work in your routine.
10. Adapt to gym equipment
In today’s world mobility is a fact. We are very dynamic, we travel and move around the world. This means that due to personal circumstances you may have to train in several different gyms throughout your years of training.
I know what I’m talking about, in the time I’ve been training I may have trained in a dozen gyms. And trust me, they were all different.
All gyms lack something, all gyms are different and therefore the equipment is different. This is not bad, but you must learn to live with it.
In all the gyms you go to, there should be a basic material (dumbbells, bars, discs, bench press bench, squat rack, pulleys, chin-up bar and various machines), but there will not be 2 gyms with it. same equipment and that is not why you will not be left without training.
Adapt and adapt your training to the available equipment . If we have a gym 5 minutes from our house and we sign up for another much more complete gym but it takes us 1 hour to get there and 1 hour to return, it is very likely that we will finally stop attending due to laziness. And let me tell you that not even the best gym in the world produces results if you don’t go.
There is always a way to train, more or less optimal, but you can always train. Even in a park or at home with your own body weight, leave the excuses for the politicians.