Move, sweat, eat, repeat makes for a decent workout plan up to a point. But if you want to maximize your fitness gains, eventually you need to train smarter: smarter eating, smarter moving, smarter recovering.
But with the avalanche of fitness information available to the average guy these days, it’s not always clear what exactly makes for smart training, and what makes for last year’s forgotten fitness fad.
So we’ve sorted it out for you.
Here are five sure-fire ways to hasten your progress—whether you’re looking to gain muscle, lose fat, or build never-fade endurance:
1. Keep It Compound. Isolating muscles—with single-joint exercises such as curls and triceps extensions—may pump up your muscles (and your ego) temporarily. But it won’t build the functional strength you need for maximum athletic performance. To amp up real-world strength, compoundexercises—those that use at least two joints at once—should form the core of your workout program.
Some examples: deadlifts, squats, presses, rows, chin-ups, and lunges. All six exercises mimic movements that crop up frequently in sports while burning fat and providing a cardio challenge as well. So step away from the curl bar—and up to the squat rack.
2. Top off Your Tank. You don’t build muscle in the gym—you build it in the hours and days after your workouts, as your body rebuilds muscle tissue damaged by those brutal sets and reps. To ensure that your body has all the raw materials it needs to maximize muscle building, nutrition experts recommend that you take in at least one gram of protein per pound of your target bodyweight every day.
That can be tough to get from whole food sources alone. So most active guys turn to a high-quality whey protein supplement like Whey Protein Powder. Studies indicate that whey has the highest biological value of any protein source, bar none—and at 26 grams per serving, 100% Whey will help keep your protein tank topped off, and you fired up, every time you hit the gym.
3. Roll it Out. All the time Americans spend sitting (over nine hours a day, according to a recent report) does more than expand our waistlines. It also gums up our hips, shoulders, ankles, and backs, leaving them more prone to injury when you hit the gym.
Your secret weapon in combatting all that tightness? The foam roller—a six-inch wide cylinder of industrial Styrofoam. Prior to mixing it up with the weights or hitting the running trail, sit or lie on top of the roller to massage and release tight muscles. Key areas include the quadriceps, upper back, the fronts of your hips, lats, calves and IT bands—the thick ribbon of connective tissue on the side of each thigh. Spend 30-60 seconds rolling out each area before you work out—more on any area that’s particularly tender.
4. Avoid the Crash. Between kids, deadlines, gym workouts and other recreational activities, most active guys have precious little downtime to prep the kind of meals that keep muscles growing. For most of us, hitting the wall now and then feels like the price of admission for staying fit.
It doesn’t have to be. On days when you can barely see straight—much less eat—from all the stress, premade meal replacements like Myoplex can be a godsend. Keep a few in your fridge at work and crack one open when there isn’t time for anything else. You’ll beat the junk-food munchies and keep your energy up all day long.
5. Redline it. If you’re prepping for a marathon or a century ride, there’s no substitute for long, slow mileage. But for the average guy looking to build cardiovascular fitness while staying lean and muscular, sprinting may be the better choice. Not only are the workouts faster (you can bang one out in less than a half-hour), they’re also better preparation for athletic activities like soccer, basketball, tennis, and other games requiring short bursts of maximum effort.
Every week for four weeks, do two sprint workouts on nonconsecutive days: run on a track on Tuesdays and hit the rowing machine on Fridays, for example. After five minutes at an easy pace, go as hard as you can for 30 seconds to a minute, then rest for 90-120 seconds. Repeat the work-rest cycle six to eight times.
Source: Mens Health