by Kathy Mitchell
Expert Fitness Tips and Strategies Every Lifter Should Know
Even the most dedicated fitness enthusiast may miss their goals due to problems that can be fixed. Fitness trainers can of course help, but what can a solo gym goer do on their own? Working out is not as easy as simply moving your body if specific goals are in mind, especially if there are deadlines or a timeframe involved. Knowledge is a powerful tool in the gym just as it is elsewhere, especially when it comes to workout methods such as lifting where a lot of parts have to come together. Seeing gym goers with perfect form, developed muscles, who can move and lift with ease; it can seem impossible to ever get there yourself.
Learn more about what goes into lifting and how to achieve your goals with these tips.
Eating more protein and cutting down on processed foods is not enough, but it is a start. Simply upping protein intake may not give the results desired, and too much can actually be detrimental to your health. Working out and building muscle requires energy, which means calorie intake will often need to be modified. It may seem counterintuitive to have to eat more to become leaner, especially if the numbers on the scale increase.
Remember that lifting is not a weight loss exercise and that shedding excess fat and building muscle will usually result in a net weight gain. The health benefits of drinking water are worth any temporary water weight as well. Your diet should consist of clean foods that are not processed, and that meet your nutritional needs all around. Use a macro calculator and diet tracker to get a handle on what you should be eating and to make sure you achieve that.
Drinking more water is something that most people have to do, but it is especially important for anyone that undergoes heavy exercise. Health benefits of drinking water are fairly extensive. Lifting and other forms of exercise increase sweat production, which causes your body to lose water. This can cause dehydration, which can range from a simple headache to a real medical emergency.
Every cell in the body relies on water to function, especially in times of stress like during a workout session. Aim for around 100 ounces of water a day just as a baseline. When weight training, you should try to drink two-thirds of your weight in ounces per day. This will meet the basic needs for digestion and other bodily processes, but also compensate for water loss during exercise.
Not only does water help you recover after a sweat session, but it can also assist in other ways that could affect your workouts, both directly and in ways you might not think of. Not getting enough water can actually make you more sensitive to pain, meaning walking up stairs after leg day can seem even worse. A properly hydrated body is also less likely to suffer from cramps and sprains, both of which can put a serious damper on weight exercises. Back pain is something that may also be prevented or lessened through proper hydration. Water helps to maintain proper blood viscosity and distribution, which is vital to general health and important when exercising. The health benefits of drinking water can address issues you may not realize are linked to not drinking enough. Another thing water can do is put you in a better mood. Nobody wants to work out when they feel bad.
Food and water make up the fuel you need for any exercise, but performing exercises the proper way is essential to see results and prevent potentially serious injury. Your form impacts how effective each move is, the difficulty of it, and how likely an injury is to occur. An example is rounding your back during a barbell lift. Keeping your core tight will support you and prevent back injuries. Keeping your shoulders pulled close to the body during pressing and pulling motions improves stability and can also prevent poor posture. Exercise can help build proper posture during day-to-day activities, but it can, unfortunately, hurt as well.
Once you know your diet and how to keep proper form during lifting, you can experiment with different techniques and strategies. Everyone will see different results from every exercise and any modifications, so remember that your results may not come right away or in the same capacity as someone else. An easy way to modify the movements you already do is to try using only one arm. Dividing lifts into two and using one arm at a time can increase difficulty and strain, which builds muscle over time. Deadlifts, overhead presses, and rows are some exercises that can be done with one arm when modified slightly. Switching up reps and sets, as well as the actual movements you do, can add variety to your workout and keep you from getting too comfortable and losing the benefits of lifting. If you hit a plateau and results seem to stop increasing, you can try pre-exhaustion. Working a muscle to exhaustion is what best builds muscle, but doing so before a workout can increase the effort needed to perform. More work means more muscle.
Supplements are something not all choose to use, but they can give you the boost you need to see through to goals or to recover quicker. Creatine is a very popular supplement that exists naturally in your body. Increasing the creatine content of muscles can help promote gain. It can also increase water content in muscles, which produces signals that spur growth. It may also increase beneficial hormones and decrease protein breakdown.
Working out- and especially lifting- can increase strength, stamina, and general health. When done with proper form and as part of a tailored routine, lifting can bring results that are significant. The best diet plan gives your body the fuel it needs to function inside of the gym and out during the day, with water supporting all bodily functions and preventing potentially dangerous dehydration.
Sometimes all of this can leave you underwhelmed with results, which is why supplements are so popular. Designed to directly impact muscle growth or to maintain general health, they can give the push needed to reach and maintain goals. Keep in mind that your body will react differently than another and that lifting should be part of a fitness lifestyle, not a solution and end to any problem.