Unlock the secrets behind protein use, sleeping habits, blood sugar levels, energy, and more. These tips will help make your valuable exercise time more effective and give you results faster.
The Right Way vs. The Wrong Way
Is there a right way and a wrong way to achieving fitness results? Absolutely. There is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to fitness because it seems like everyone is trying to sell you something. It is important to understand there is no shortcut to hard work in the gym. However, following these tips will help you spend less time in the gym and maximize your results.
Push Yourself During Your Workout
It is important to push yourself in the gym. Whether you workout at home, or in a commercial gym, you need to make the most of your time. The first step to this is by continually pushing your limits. Don’t leave anything on the table – or gym, in this case.
Form is Better Than Reps
Although it is important to push your limits, you don’t want to go so far that you sacrifice good form. Make sure every rep of your workout is focusing on the right muscle groups. Flailing through your final reps won’t help you, and it could even result in injury.
The key is to find the balance between exerting yourself to stimulate your muscles, and pushing yourself too far. Making progress isn’t about the actual number of reps you can do. It’s much more important to have slower, more focused, more controlled reps – even if you do less of them.
All good workouts need to be followed by good recovery. Lifting weights technically strains your muscles and makes them weaker temporarily. It isn’t until our body recovers, that it is able to make itself stronger.
Rest is the Key to Recovery
In my experience, after the actual workout, itself, rest is the most important part of making progress. If you don’t give your body adequate time to recover, you will stifle your efforts.
During a rigorous exercise program, 8 hours of sleep may hardly be enough. If your schedule doesn’t allow for long enough nights of sleep, a midday nap will suffice. Who doesn’t need an excuse for a nap? If you aren’t already following a program, I provide one for free.
Nutrition is Where it All Starts
Another requirement for making progress is a good diet. If you don’t provide your muscles with the nutrients they need, they won’t be able to grow. Even if you are trying to lose weight, it is important to make sure your primary diet includes enough:
- Calories for energy
- Protein for muscle recovery and growth
- Vitamins and minerals for body functions
Supplements are great tools to help you fill the missing gaps in your diet. It’s important to understand that supplements are always less important than your primary diet. I don’t recommend strictly living off of supplements.
Protein Powders, Snacks, and Diet
It can be difficult to get enough protein only from your primary diet without going overboard on calories. There are few foods that provide a high enough protein ratio to sustain muscle development without adding a bunch of fat on top of it.
Eggs, chicken breast, pumpkin seeds, and cottage cheese are my go-to menu options for added protein in my diet. However, I always supplement my diet with added protein. My main source is from a simple protein powder. I recommend whey isolate, as it is one of the most tested and proven proteins on the market. It is also cheap.
Instead of snacking on junk food, I will often replace things like candy bars and potato chips with protein bars and protein chips. Here is a list of my favorite protein snacks.
Creatine is the Most Proven Supplement
Creatine, behind protein, is the next most effective and proven supplement for building muscle. I take creatine every day, even on days I don’t work out. It gives me energy and helps my muscles grow. I have an entire article dedicated to this incredible supplement if you would like to learn more about it.
Dextrose Will Help with Protein Synthesis
Dextrose is great for your post-workout recovery. It has a very high glycemic index value to calorie ratio, so it is good for giving you a good little blood sugar spike with minimal calories.
I recommend taking, or eating dextrose with, or after, your post-workout protein shake. The best option would be pure dextrose powder.
A great source of dextrose are these gummy bears; they are packed with dextrose and it’s a good excuse to eat a sweet treat. My personal favorite, though, are these dried dates. There are only 2 ingredients – dates and dextrose.
If you want to learn more about how insulin and blood sugar are related to fitness, I go into detail about this in my article on carbs.
Are BCAAs (Aminos) Worth it?
Branch Chain Amino Acids, or “aminos”, is another daily supplement of mine. I will be quick to admit, the actual benefits behind this are a little uncertain. This supplement is more of an honorable mention than anything. Although on a scientific level, aminos are the building blocks of protein (muscle), in practice, they may not live up to the hype.
I take them for a simple reason. They might work… and the fact that my favorite energy-boosting supplement contains them. I don’t take it strictly for the aminos, but it is the only pre-workout drink I have found that gives me energy without getting jittery or other weird feelings that some pre-workout drinks give me.
Even coffee can make me feel quite “off”. If I didn’t take this supplement for the energy aspect of it, I probably wouldn’t be taking a BCAA supplement. I take this supplement first thing in the morning with my creatine. I also take it before a workout for an added boost of energy.