So many people think creating an exercise is just slapping exercises, reps, intervals, rest time, etc. together and it’s gold. Except that mentality is completely false…believe it or not there is a science to creating an effective workout. Here are my 6 simplified (emphasis on simplified) factors that affect the effectiveness of your workout.
- Work:Rest Ratio: This ratio basically means the amount of time you are performing an exercises compared to the amount of time needed to recover correctly from the exercise during a workout. Did you know that when we exercise it triggers our body’s energy systems? For the purpose of keeping this blog simple I will be grouping ATP with our Phosphocreatine system, even though they are technically separate depending on training factors. So anyways we have our ATP-PC system which is any activity lasting up to 15 seconds, we have our anaerobic system which is activity lasting up to 90 seconds, and our aerobic system lasting greater than 90 seconds. Now, did you know that the correct rest interval is one of the MOST important factors of a workout? But how do you know how long you should rest? To start, look at the dominant energy system working based on how long your bout of exercise is. Typical recovery for the ATP-PC system is anywhere from 30-50 seconds, for our anaerobic system is 1-3 minutes, and for our aerobic system it is typically a 1:1 ratio. Again, this is a very basic run down, but I hope it helps to open up your eyes to one of the biggest mistakes people make in the gym without knowing it is one of the worst mistakes.
- Muscle Groups: Ever had an instatrainer give you HEAVY deadlifts at the very end of you workout? Well, fire them! Again, exercise is not just “let me slap sh** together.” There is a method to the madness, that sadly only a handful of trainers these days understand. Again, for the sake of keeping it simple you work the larger muscle groups in compound exercises first and progress towards the unilateral exercises, isolation exercises, and smaller muscle group exercises. Meaning Squats, Deadlifts, and Bench press go first on your weight training days and THEN you add your lunges, romanian deadlifts, hamstring curls, push ups, bicep curls, etc.
- Hydration: Dehydration can cause muscles to cramp, fainting, poor muscle recovery post workout, and more disaster. Before any exercise, especially in hot/humid environments it is crucial that you are well hydrated before, during, and after! Drink roughly 2-3c 1-2 hours before exercise, roughly 1c during, and 2-3c after your workout on top of your regular non exercise related hydration.
- Rest: Rest days are vital! They allow your muscles to repair and grow! Overdoing exercise can put your body in a catabolic state (your body takes energy from muscles…thereby breaking muscle down). Even elite athletes get rest days! For the average person I recommend tops 3 days back to back of exercise before taking a 1 day rest.
- Pre-Workout Fuel: If you don’t properly fuel up for you workout, how can you expect your body to have the proper energy it needs to perform the workout? Before a workout if you eat 2 hours to 90 minutes before have a solid healthy meal with protein, whole grains, and a healthy fat. If you can’t eat something until 60-30 minutes before your workout have something light! Like a peanut butter sandwich, a banana with peanut butter, etc. But having a carb and protein source is crucial!
- Post Workout Fuel: Did you know exercise causes stress on the body? A stress our body is well equipped to recover from as long as it gets the energy it needs post workout to carry out its recovery process. If you are like me and cannot stomach a hardy meal post workout I drink a post workout shake. The important feature to my shake is it is NOT just protein. It also contains fast digesting carbohydrates. Many protein shakes on the market fail miserable because they offer less than 5 grams of carbohydrates post workout…when carbs are more important than the protein (both still important though!) The average person can refuel just fine with a 1:1 ration of protein and carbs, while a more advanced gym goer benefits from 1:2 protein and carb ratio…again this is the simplified rule of thumb….calculating based on body weight and exercise type can be a pain for someone who does not know how.
Hopefully this helps you tweak your current routine, even if it is a basic switch….leave the complicated applications to the knowledgeable trainers, coaches, etc. For the average gym goer do your best with the basic run down!
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Water! Water! Water!!!
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