I’m sure you’ve wondered how to get the most out of your fitness training. Should you workout 3 days a week or 7? Should you go for 30 minute sessions or 4 hour sessions? Should you take supplements? Should you stop drinking milkshakes for pre/post workouts? Is shouting when lifting and slamming the weights around going to accelerate your strengths gains? Should you snort cocaine off the bench before setting your next personal record?
All great questions that I’ve asked myself from time to time. Many of these things I have tried myself to see if they worked. Which ones, you ask? Maybe all of them. You don’t know me.
So, without further ado, here are a few things you can start doing to improve your fitness gains!
Log your workouts.
There are several different forms of this log. Many people carry around a spiral notebook. For some it is a binder. For me, it’s an excel workbook with my goals, measurements, and workouts. Use whatever tool works for you, but you need to log your workouts. If you want your body to change, you must continually challenge it, whether that is changing the workout up or simply changing variables, such as reps, weight, rest time, and so on, to make the workouts more challenging each time you do them. You body will NOT change if you do the same things every time you go to the gym. Or do the same thing as farting Joe, the old man that has been working out at this gym since JFK was president, and likes to start a conversation with you while he is stretching, letting his flatulence fly. Super nice guy.
Log your food.
This does not mean follow some extreme diet. You do not have to give up donuts or those fruity drinks you always drink, and you also don’t have to start putting butter in your coffee. Unless that’s your thing, then you do you.
What I am suggesting is that you simply start logging everything you put into your face. We all have some sort of idea of what is healthy and what isn’t, but if you don’t you can take this log to a nutritionist or someone and ask them how terrible your diet is. The main idea is you will realize habits that you might not have even noticed before. Then you can start making changes and figure out what works for you. This will require a little bit of experimenting, and this isn’t a life sentence. Once you learn what types of things cause you to fall away from your goals, you can make changes. Once you’ve eliminated bad habits, you probably won’t need to log anymore until you inevitably start making bad decisions, again. Like me, pretty much every weekend. Weekends are my bad habits.
Start a workout routine.
Wait what? You thought you could get in shape WITHOUT working out? I am sorry to break it to you, but it is my duty to inform you not to eat those little packets they put in shoes to keep the odor out, either. This one should be obvious. There are no short cuts. You need a routine, and it needs to change every month. The goals of the routine should change. For example, when I plan my workout routine, one month I am focusing on strength, next month I am focusing on endurance. Then, hypertrophy. I even spend time training balance. 80-year-old you will thank you.
This might sound crazy, but you don’t build muscle at the gym, you build it in your sleep. If you are consistently sacrificing sleep, you probably aren’t seeing very good results. When your body isn’t rested, it isn’t able to repair the damage you do to it when you workout. Aside from that, you cause a bunch of hormonal stuff to go wrong and before you know it, you’ll have a lot more problems than how much you can squat.
Having trouble falling asleep? Where is your phone when you go to bed? Is it in another room? Is it at least across the room? Are you sleeping with it in your bed? ARE YOU IN BED RIGHT NOW? Put the phone away. The light from the phone keeps your mind working because you are bombarding it with information. Try reading a book (A real book, not a book on your phone. Cheater.) before you pull the covers for the night. Try this for a week. If you aren’t getting to sleep faster, you probably have sleep cancer. Or something. I’m not a doctor.
Give up quick fixes. Forever.
Any time there is a product or service that offers to get you in shape in a very short period of time such as a cleanse, usually one month, avoid it like the plague. The truth is, these quick fixes might work by dropping your water weight, or starving you for a period of time, but they are a temporary solution to a chronic problem. You want to focus on doing what will get you permanent results. THOSE DO EXIST. You know what isn’t permanent? Giving up your favorite foods for the rest of your life. Literally, I will fight you for some potatoes. Boiled, baked, fried, microwaved, smashed, roasted, pan seared. Pretty much any way but raw. (Potatoes are carbs, by the way.)
Change it up
Go listen to this podcast. I mentioned this earlier, but you have to change up your workouts. Your body WILL adapt to the same workout every day. I know people who have been doing the SAME WORKOUT for 15 years. WHAT. How have you not gone insane from the sheer repetition?
If you want your body to change, you have to change your workout. AND your nutrition. If you eat the same thing every day, there is a likelihood that you are missing out on nutrients that are going to help your body become the well-oiled, goal crushing machine required to take on your training to the next level.
If you can’t meditate for 10 minutes, you need 3 hours. I am asking you to spend 10 minutes a day just meditating. Don’t think about anything, but don’t think about nothing. It sounds like a contradiction, but it makes sense once you get into the groove of things. Think of your mind like a busy highway. The goal is to not jump out in front of the traffic and try to stop it all, but you also should go chasing every passer that comes by. You have to train yourself to just stand on the side of the road and let the traffic flow. This is important because a happy mind = a happy body. Your fitness will take backseat to your life if you don’t take control of it.
Don’t workout with your phone.
I get you gotta take photos for your Snap story or whatever, but hear me out. Your workouts suck because of your phone. That 60 second rest you are supposed to take becomes 5 minutes. You aren’t concentrating on the workout if you are 3 months deep in your ex’s Instagram. And let’s face it, your workout isn’t the only thing that is suffering. You are literally at the gym to work on yourself and here you are spending your entire gym visit having a twitter war with your high school frenemy.
Put the phone down on focus on the exercise. Make sure you are actually contracting the muscle that you are training. Make sure you are keeping your heart rate up during your cardio. Make sure you aren’t wasting your dang time.
They have Bluetooth headphones, now, so you can leave the thing in your bag and still play your Beethoven. What do you MEAN you don’t listen to Beethoven when you workout??
Become a student and give up your ego.
“50% of what we know is wrong, the problem is knowing which 50%.”
Even if you have discovered what works for you, it might not work for someone else, and it STILL might not be the BEST option. You are reading this blog because you HAVEN’T found what works best for you, but in a few months, you will stumble across that life-changing program or class or boot camp or whatever. Realize there is a massive variety of exercise and diets out there for a reason. They work for different people. Some of them are a gimmick and target people who don’t know better. Some are for pregnant women. Some are just for fun and created to ease people into an active lifestyle.
The point is, I do Muay Thai, AND yoga, AND cycling, AND heavy weight lifting, AND running. I do all of these things because I want my fitness level to be as well-rounded as possible for longevity purposes. Too much of a good thing is TOO MUCH of a good thing. Find what works for you and stick with it, but NEVER be afraid to try new things. And give those things more than one chance. You usually get at least a week trial period for gyms and boot camps and group fitness, so try different instructors or different facilities. Once again, one style of instruction does not fit all.
Follow this blog and podcast.
I’m not going to beg, but I am studying every day to come up with better and better ways to crush all your life and fitness goals. This is stuff I am learning and applying to MY life that I think others can benefit from. It’s all about living the life you want to live. You want to live happy and healthy for as long as possible. That’s the whole point of EVERYTHING I am doing. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all the best information laid out in an easy to digest and entertaining place? Well, here you are! Go give my Facebook page a like as well as following me on Instagram @lifeandfitnesswithdbanks so make sure you don’t miss any of my content. I post new stuff several times a week on both of those platforms.
These are easy tips to apply to your life, and you should start immediately. Take on one at a time. It’s the small changes that stick. When you try to make those big changes, they can be really hard and stressful. You are more likely to fail when you face these big changes. You are here because you want to make a change, so how about commit to making them? Pick one and do it for at least two weeks before you try to start another one. You’ll get results. If you need accountability, reach out to me and I will help!