A few weeks ago, I read a book that has really improved my workout routine.
That book is bigger, leaner, stronger.
I already had a habit of working out once a week, strength training mostly.
My workout usually last 1 hour 30 mins at least, and by the end of it I would feel exhausted, to the point where I don't really look forward to the next workout.
But every week I would push through it anyway, and ended up feeling the same every time.
For the past couple months though, I've been consistently working out almost everyday (3 days strength training + swimming and sports for the rest).
And honestly I don't dread going to the gym. In fact I feel empowered to go, knowing it will help me get closer to my fitness goal.
So here are the key lessons I learned that empowers me to workout more consistently:
1) The workout session has to be short, but intense.
Each of my workout now lasts from 50mins to 1 hour top. Consisting of 3-4 free weight lifting exercises. Here's a sample of my workout:
I would perform these exercises at a weight that allows me to do 4-6 reps with proper technique (for 3 sets). Each time I can perform 3 sets of 6 reps, I'll increase the weight.
I used to waste a lot of time resting between sets because I was lifting too heavy. Now as soon as I can catch my breath, I know I can do the next 4-6 reps.
2) Sore muscle ≠ great workout
I used to come home from gym with great muscle soreness that will last a few days. Now i know I've been overworking my body.
The burning sensation you feel when working out is the result of lactic acid being infused into the muscles, which tells the body to release growth-inducing hormones.
But too much lactic acid in the body will impair growth and cause tissues to be broken down.
So I learned that I don't need to go harder and longer than necessarily without feeling bad about not working enough.
A great workout session without intense muscle soreness allows me go at it again the next day.
3) Great warmup is paramount for lifting heavy.
A proper warmup session will ease yourself into lifting heavy without injury.
For each muscle group that you're going to train for, lift 50% of the weight for your workout, then progressively work towards 70% and 90% until your heavy sets.
For example, if i'm suppose to deadlift 100kg for this workout, my warmup session will be:
Warm up set 1: 50kg, 12 reps
Warm up set 2: 70kg, 6 reps
Warm up set 3: 90kg, 3 reps
Then proceed to the 3 sets of 100kg that I'm suppose to do.
During the warmup sets I will be able to gauge if I'll be able to do 100kg or more, so I can adjust accordingly.
One side effect of warming up is knowing that I can take my time and ease myself into the workout, this really reduces the friction of going to the gym for me.
Now I go to the gym knowing that it will be a short session, that I can take my time to do proper warmup, do a series of exercises without the pressure of overworking myself, and coming home feeling great (no crazy soreness that prevent me walking down the stairs properly on leg days).