With spring now upon us, this is the perfect time to reflect on the training plan you’ve got lined up to be ready for the summer season. Chances are, your goals may be changing as you move from focusing on building muscle to burning fat instead.
Due to this change in focus, it’s important to take stock of your current workout habits and determine if there’s anything that needs to be adjusted going forward. The fact is, many of us develop bad habits which can stick with us. Which may be slowing or halting our progress. In some cases, these bad habits can even lead to injuries, which would definitely put a damper on your progress.
By cleaning up your workout now, you can promote success down the road. Just as you may be spring cleaning your house, it’s time for a little spring cleaning of your gym sessions as well.
Here are some of the bad habits you’ll need to put aside to move onward successfully.
Everyone loves catching a glimpse of themselves in the mirror when their muscles are pumped, definition is showing, and they just look good. It makes us feel like all the hard work we’re putting in is paying off. There’s no denying this.
Why not snap a selfie to share this with others?
While taking the occasional picture isn’t detrimental, especially if you use it as progress pictures, you’ll want to avoid becoming a gym model. The prime focus of your workout shouldn’t be to see how many great shots you can get to share on your Instagram feed. If you’ve gotten into the habit of doing this, it’s time to put the phone away.
Too much phone time will dramatically decrease the intensity of your workout and can even cause you to lose your pump if your photo shoot takes too long.
And it should go without saying that the gym is not the time to be checking your social media accounts at all. Make the gym a phone-free environment. You might even consider turning off your Wi-Fi so that all you can do is use it for music.
If you’ve been focusing on building muscle over the winter season, this means your workouts have been geared towards lifting as heavy as possible. In return, you may be letting your form slip.
If you know you’ve been guilty of sacrificing form for an extra 10 pounds on the bar, put a stop to this habit now. While it’s fine to test your limits every so often, even if it means a slight shift away from completely perfect form for a couple of reps. However, the more often you do this, the more likely it is that you’ll develop poor form habits that become nearly impossible to change.
If you let this go on long enough, you may risk seriously injuring yourself down the road, ending up sidelined because of it.
Take the time now to honestly assess your technique, especially on your main compound lifts. If you’re having a hard time doing this, enlist the help of someone knowledgeable who can be a reliable second set of eyes.
You track your reps and sets and make sure that the weight you’re lifting is at or higher than your last workout was. Ask yourself, when was the last time you tracked your rest periods?
Most of us don’t. Instead, we go by feel. We allow ourselves to rest until we feel ready to complete the next set and go from there.
While this may be okay if you’re looking to build strength, as recovery is key to lifting heavy enough weight, it’s not optimal if your current goal is fat loss. The downtime between sets plays a key role in the metabolic boost you get from the workout you do, so you need to be controlling this just as you do the amount of weight you’re lifting.
Keep a stopwatch on hand or maintain focus on a clock on the wall near you. Most gyms are equipped with a clock containing a second hand for this reason. You can significantly change the intensity of a workout session just by altering your rest periods. Do not overlook this fact.
There’s a saying out there, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. You might consider the fact that you’re seeing progress as evidence that nothing needs to change.
Sure, you’re seeing some results, but could you be seeing better results? If you’ve been doing the same workout for months, there’s a very good chance a change in plans could yield greater results
Your body is constantly adapting to whatever you’re throwing at it, so while you may be increasing the amount of weight you’re lifting on each set you do, that adaptation process is still taking place.
Changing to a whole new set of exercises, or using a different split or exercise order, can reignite your progress.
You should get into the habit of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone every 6-8 weeks on your program. The minute your routine starts to feel like ‘home’ is the minute you should change something. Sadly, most people crave this feeling of stability with their workouts, leading them to resist change, unintentionally hindering their progress.
Embrace the idea that your workout should never feel comfortable. If it’s comfortable, it isn’t challenging you enough.
When you first started, your workouts were intense 45-minute sessions. Then you saw a new exercise you wanted to add, so that got incorporated into the program. More time passed and a few more exercises were incorporated. Contributing to this fact is that you tend to take your time a bit more between sets, chatting up another gym-goer or checking your physique out in the mirror. Now you’re in the gym for about 75 minutes per session.
If this sounds like you, it’s time to clean up this bad habit. Letting your workouts drag on too long is a sign that you aren’t keeping the intensity as high as you could be. Additionally, at this length, you likely aren’t getting full physical benefits from the workouts due to a drop in energy and strength levels.
A well-programmed workout session should not last much longer than an hour unless you’re extremely advanced and are really on top of your nutrition – with a surplus of calories coming in.
Training beyond this point and your cortisol levels will spike exceptionally high, doing more harm than good. If you’re doing 90-minute sessions five days per week, it won’t be long before your body is in dire need of a lengthy break from training, either due to exhaustion or injury.
Start setting a timer when you hit the gym. Once you’re at your 60-minute time limit, force yourself out. This will make you prioritize those exercises that yield the best results while also ensuring that you sustain optimal workout intensity.
Take a critical look at your current gym routine. Any of these bad habits at play? If so, make a few changes now so you can clean up your act and start seeing superior progress.