By Ron Harris
“How was your workout?” Most of us are asked this question all the time. It might be at the gym in the locker room or on the way out, or maybe your significant other poses this question. Are you always able to say it was a great one? If not, don’t blame fate. Productive workouts don’t happen by accident. Here is a checklist to make sure every time you step onto the weight floor, you are ready to make it a workout to be proud of, and one that you will know took you one step closer to your physique goals.
Be well rested
It should go without saying, but a good night’s sleep always sets the stage for a productive day, whether that be at the office, the classroom, or the gym. Aim for the gold standard of 8 hours of uninterrupted, quality sleep.
Eat a hearty pre-workout meal
You may hear some esoteric types recommending that you weight train on an empty stomach to elicit a better growth hormone release or some such nonsense. You wouldn’t attempt to drive a car on an empty gas tank, so be sure you fuel up your body for good workouts with a solid meal of a lean protein source along with a starchy carbohydrate. Chicken breast and brown rice, or white fish and sweet potato are both excellent choices to put down 90-120 minutes before you start pumping up.
Along with food, be sure to drink plenty of water. Depending on your body size, activity level, and climate, you will want to consume anywhere from a gallon to three gallons a day. If you are even slightly dehydrated, everything about your workout will suffer, including your strength, focus, and ability to get a pump.
Go into every workout with something to strive for, be it a new personal record on a lift, or even more reps than before with the same weight.
Write out the workout
Don’t just wing it in your workouts. Have not only a plan to follow but take it one step further and either write it down on paper or type it up on your phone’s notes. You will move through your workout with real purpose and direction.
Dress for success
Make sure your clothing is comfortable and functional. For instance, you should never train in any material that restricts your movement in any way. Don’t be a slob and train in clothes you’re already sweated in and haven’t washed, either!
Have the right music
Whatever music energizes you and makes you feel invincible, that’s what you want on your iTunes or Pandora as the soundtrack to your workout. Save a few all-time favorite tracks for your most challenging sets.
Put yourself in the right frame of mind
Finally, take a minute before each workout to put yourself in the proper state of mind. Clear all negative and troubling thoughts and do your best to set aside all your daily concerns about jobs family, relationships, finances, or studies. Your problems will still be there after the workout, so leave them outside the gym doors while you blast some serious iron and pump up your muscles!