5 tips to get more out of your gym workout: Part 1

We’ve covered the importance of motivation when it comes to working out, and the myths that can disrupt plans for body re-shaping. Now that you understand the importance of maintaining muscle for the firm toned look, we’ll look at how to make your time in the gym more effective.

The key to muscle development (or simply maintenance or toning) is a blend of:

  • Stimulation (to prompt the muscle to either grow or at least maintain a level of “existence”)
  • Recovery (the time between the stimulation prompts whereby the muscle can grow)
  • Nutrition (sufficient nutrients so that muscle is able to be rebuilt and is not “cannibalised”

These factors, when balanced properly, also control a fourth foundational element – hormones. Too much stimulation can adversely affect the hormones – promoting cortisol and adrenalin which can accelerate muscle wasting.

Similarly, there will be adverse affects from:

  • Insufficient nutrition
  • Too little recovery
  • Excessive nutritional factors that add to fat deposits
  • Excessive recovery means slow or minimal results.

We’ll focus here on the stimulation and recovery elements. Nutrition has been addressed to a degree in our earlier blogs.

Stimulation and Recovery Elements

Stimulation refers to overloading the muscle so that it has to “repair and rebuild”. We’re in a constant state of cells being replenished – but in the case of muscle, we can prompt this actively by having the muscle perform work.

Muscles (I am referring to skeletal muscles that move our limbs) are adaptive – meaning that if there is a regular demand placed on them that causes them “stress”, they’ll increase their capacity in order to suffer less stress in future – otherwise known as an “over-compensatory” or “super-compensatory” response. They “repair” themselves after the stress and “add” a little extra to adapt to the load in case it happens again. If the load does occur again within a reasonable time frame (a few days), the new muscle capacity is retained.

In the case of weight training, we deliberately stress the muscle and do it at a frequency to continue the repair and super-compensatory response. You’ll see this with people in labouring jobs – they develop some muscularity but then stop at that point because the load isn’t progressively harder. The body adapts enough to cope with the demands.

You will know, or can intuitively reason, that if the frequency is too high for the stress suffered, the muscle does not have enough time to recover fully and is continually torn down. This becomes self-limiting such that after a while, you will not be able to generate the same level of “stimulation” as in the early days.

Next time, we’ll continue this discussion by looking at the level of stimulation and ideal frequency and why it’s important to understand the relationship between the two.

In the meantime, we’ll leave you with our 5 takeaway tips from this article.

AMP Your Workout Smart Tips

  1. The primary basis for sensible training will address the triad of stimulation, recovery, and nutrition
  2. The triad, when covered properly will have an impact on a fourth critical element, hormones – meaning both the hormones that create growth (maximising anabolism) and minimising the bad hormones that inhibit it (and cause catabolism)
  3. The “amounts” of stimulation and recovery required will vary over time as your body adapts
  4. As your capacity increases, so does the need for stimulation and generally therefore so does your need for recovery
  5. Split routines can address this need for increased stimulation and recovery