Updated: Jan 6, 2021
Working out is something that can be extremely complicated. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to learn how to design one correctly. As complicated as it is, with the right steps, it is as easy as 1,2,3 (literally).
Step 1: The warm-up
Before working out, it is recommended to perform a dynamic warm up. This means to do quick movements that are similar to what you’re going to do during the workout. An example of this is to do high knee hugs before a leg day. Contrary to popular belief, stretching before a workout is not best for your muscles or performance. If you think about it, there is never a moment in your workout where you’re in a stationary position for more than 15-30 seconds.
Bottom line: Prepare your muscles for what you’re going to do before your workout.
Step 2: The workout
This is where things get complicated. What you do in your workout depends on your goals, so I’ll keep it brief. First thing’s first, if you are doing resistance training, it is suggested to not do cardio before lifting weights. The reason behind this is doing cardio requires a lot of energy. If performed before lifting weight, you use most of the glycogen needed for the workout itself.
Next, try to perform exercises from the most complex to the simplest. You should use most of the energy for things like plyometrics (jumping) or olympic lifts (such as power cleans). From there, compound lifts (such as squats or bench press) should be the priority. Lastly,
focus on things like leg curls or triceps extensions.
Finally, make sure to have some fun. It’s cliche, but workouts go a lot better when you’re enjoying yourself. This could be performing your favorite exercises, or listening to your favorite music and dancing. Working out isn’t always the most enjoyable thing, but try to find something to keep you looking forward to the next workout.
Bottom line: Workout with your goals in mind.
Step 3: The recovery
This is the most overlooked aspect of the process. After the workout, it is suggested to perform static stretches. These are the long held stretches such as the sit and reach stretch. They are beneficial because they help the body relax after a strenuous workout. This is due to the increased activity of the parasympathetic nervous system which is in charge of rest and digestion.
Stretching also helps prevent the muscle soreness following working out. This muscle soreness is called DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which typically starts 24-48 hours post workout.
Lastly, something that helps recovery is the food you eat. By consuming natural foods, or supplements if necessary, then you put your body in the best position for muscle recovery. When you work out, there are micro tears that occur within the muscles. By eating quality foods, your muscles recover quicker and become more resilient.
Bottom line: Focus on recovery the same as the workout, if not more.
As mentioned in the beginning, working out can be complicated. If broken down into simpler units, like the warm up, the workout and the recovery, it’s easier to manage.