#1 Always integrate progressive overload into your routine in some way or another. If you want to make gains you have to consistently place more and more demand on your body, you cannot go to the gym and perform the same workout with the same weight for the same number of repetitions and expect to look any different. The key word here is increase, not same. Force your body to adapt, don’t perform something you’ve ALREADY adapted to.
#2 Get in the gym, do your thing, and get the heck out of there! When you go to the gym or anywhere else to work out, you have to have a plan. Once you have a plan, execute it and put your 100% attention to it. It’s not a social club; it’s a place to get you better. Plus, staying in the gym for over 90 minutes has shown to release stress hormones in your body, particularly one called Cortisol which has proven to lead to fat gain and muscle deterioration.
#3 Exercise with proper form at all times. If you do not know how to do proper form, get someone to teach you. This is huge. Improper form leads to poor activation of the muscles and can lead to serious injuries over time.
#4 Base your weight lifting regiment on free weight compound exercises. Machines and other fancy equipment are best for rehabilitation when recovering from an injury. But for building strength and getting a ripped physique, free weights are superior.
#5 Only perform exercises that are natural movements. Drop the leg extensions and stick to squatting movements. Purely from natural circumstances, when do your legs ever use that motion under any kind of weight to serve you? Your body was meant to squat!
#6 Get creative! Do not be constrained to the weight room or any one form of exercise. Get your body outside of its comfort zone and go swim, run sprints, rock climb, do plyometrics, yoga or anything you can think of! Just make sure it’s something different.
#7 Make sure you get adequate rest. Your muscles do not grow while you’re working out; they grow when you are recovering from the workout. Think of it this way, when you are in the gym putting stress on your muscles, you are creating micro tears and causing the muscle to break down. Your body then responds to the stress and the micro tears by saying “I am going to rebuild and come back bigger and stronger so that next time I feel that same stress I will be able to handle it”. But if you don’t give your muscles enough time to rebuild, you are just tearing and tearing them down and wasting effort while not getting any results. So how much rest do you need? It’s simple, if you are going back to the gym stronger each time, then you are recovering adequately. If not, you are either not getting enough rest or too much. Here are some general guidelines depending on intensity of the workout
For weightlifting workouts plan on giving the particular muscles this much rest – depending on the intensity
Extremely high intensity 4-5 days rest
High intensity 3 days rest
Moderate intensity 2 days rest
Low intensity 1 day rest
These are just guidelines! I challenge you to find your own recovery rate, everybody’s different!
# 8 There is no such thing as a good cookie cutter program. Meaning, do not take a “one size fits all” approach, understand that everybody is different and different people’s body’s respond to different things. Just because something works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you. Find out what works best for you and do it. Experiment, be the scientist who gets away from the equations and gets in the lab.
#9 Mix your routine up once in a while. After a while your body gets used that same exercises that you do in the gym and becomes efficient at them to the point where it doesn’t feel like it needs to grow anymore. Shock your body with new exercises and rep schemes to avoid this. And do it often.
#10 Warm up before you workout and stretch after. Before your workout, make sure and do a dynamic workout; don’t stretch. Static stretching can temporarily weaken your muscles, negatively affecting your workout. Warm up with the exercises that you are about to do, just with less weight and low reps, but with high sets. After your workout is when you want to stretch. For two reasons: Warm muscles stretch a lot easier, and two; stretching increases blood flow which aids in recovery, you will find that if you stretch a lot immediately after your workout you will be less sore the next day.