"So, what do you do?"
I get this question on a consistent basis from people when inquiring about what type of workout I do. The thing is, it's not as much about the workout I'm doing as it is about the principles that I apply to all my workouts. To be honest, my workouts change as my body and my goals change. There is no single perfect workout that when utilized will be the end all be all of workouts. Sorry, but it's the truth.
What's more important is being optimal to what your goals are. For some, that may be to build muscle. For others, it may be strength or weight loss. You can get results from all kinds of different workouts, but it may not be optimized for your goals, meaning you might have gained 5 lbs of muscle doing a certain workout, yet if you optimized your workouts more, you could have gained 10 lbs of muscle. This also applies to weight loss and strength.
It's not as much about what other people are doing, but it's about what is it you want to do and applying the correct principles to your workouts. I have learned from my mentors over the years and many professional bodybuilders, powerlifters, and athletes that I follow and read about. All their training programs are designed for what they want to specifically get out of them. A wide receiver doesn't do the same workout as an offensive lineman, not if they want to be a productive wide receiver.
So what are these principles that I'm babbling all about? I'm glad you asked. Even if you didn't ask, here they are:
1) Goal specific workouts - your workouts should always match up with your goals. You can train for strength, muscle size, weight loss, speed, power, etc. If you are wanting to gain muscle mass, but you're running on a treadmill an hour a day... your training isn't matching with your goals.
2) Train with a purpose - your workout time is your time. It's a time that you can be completely selfish, clear your mind, and escape from everything around you. So you should train like it. Chatting with everyone around you, talking on your cell phone, texting, checking facebook, really anything that takes your mind off your workout is super counterproductive. Sorry, it just is. I doubt you would have see Jerry Rice or Michael Jordan running over to check their phones when they were training or practicing.
3) Stick to your plan - this one here may be the most important one out of all of these tips. One of the worst things you can do is to start a workout program, then 2 weeks in ditch it for some newfound program you ran across in a magazine or a friend told you about. If you want results from a plan, you have to give it at least 8 - 12 weeks to see comparable results. Being a workout jumper is not something that you want to be known for. I don't know how many times someone has told me "I did the (insert workout here), but I didn't see any results after a couple of weeks". You can then insert my face in hand reaction and try to instruct these well meaning souls that the greatest workouts won't garner great results only after a few weeks. OK, sorry I had to rant there... I'm good now. Also, if you are constantly jumping from workout program to workout program, you will never know how your body reacts to certain types of training. Do you respond well to high volume, low volume, high intensity, drop sets, max sets, etc? You will never know and therefore you won't train your body optimally and see your desired results.
4) Eat to support your workouts - now this should go without saying, but I shall sayeth it (you like that Old English). If you are not supporting your workouts with a proper nutrition plan, then you might as well be at home watching TV and spend some time with your family. Keep in mind that this is applying to people who want to achieve physique goals in the gym of building muscle, burning fat, etc. If you are one that is just at the gym to stay active, I applaud you. But you should still follow a good nutritional program:)
If you hit the 4 windows of opportunity when it comes to nutrition then you will be well on your way to supporting your workouts and achieving the physique you desire. These 4 windows are:
2) Pre Workout (30-60 min before exercise)
3) Post Workout (20-45 min after exercise)
If you nail these 4 times right then you will see some astonishing results in a short amount of time.
5) Pump Up The Jams - want to have great workouts and stay focused in the gym? Then you should plug in your iPod and listen to your favorite tunes. According to the U.S. periodical Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, when participants listened to their favorite music while jogging, they increased their endurance by 15%. Pretty sweet right?
If you don't agree, then I don't know what you're looking for.
OK, so anything is probably better than overhearing conversations you wish you didn't, crappy gym music, or listening to the guy awkwardly scream as he is benching next to you. So even if you have some favorite closet tunes like Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, or God forbid the Backstreet Boys, you can crank it up and reap the results. The beauty of it is that no one will be able to hear what you're listening to so there won't be any judgements... besides when you look in the mirror and you shamefully mouth the words to Backstreet's Back. Be honest, you know exactly what I'm talking about and sort of like it.
OK that's all I've got for now, but I promise you that if you implement these 5 principles into your workouts, you will see some great results and really start reaping the benefits of your training. You might even enjoy it a little more, too.