16 Smart Strategies You Can Use in Your Next Workout
Have you ever walked into a gym before and seen someone who looks completely lost—or maybe you’ve been the one who looks lost in the gym at times?
This clueless feeling can be really embarrassing and it can even discourage people from going back to the gym.
Well fear no more!
Today I’ll be sharing with you 15 smart strategies that you can use in you next workout.
After reading this post, you’ll be able to go from an average Joe to a pro in no time.
Let’s jump right in with the first strategy…
Strategy #1: Train with a Stopwatch
I’ve been training with a stopwatch for years, and now I’m at the point where I can’t train without it.
Seriously if your workout calls for resting 2 minutes in between sets, how can you really know if you’re not using a stopwatch?
Without a stopwatch, your workouts become random and inconsistent.
For all you know you might rest 90 seconds one set and then 140 the next.
Using a stopwatch helps keep your workouts honest so start using one.
I personally enjoy using an actual watch just because it’s easier, but you can use your phone if you don’t feel like buying a $10 watch with a timer on it.
Strategy #2: Focus on Progressive Overload
Some people think that you should focus on volume, while others say focus on frequency.
However, you should really be aiming your attention on progressive overload.
Progressive overload simply means that you’re gradually increasing the workload placed on your body.
This could be in the form of doing more reps, using more weight, resting less, etc.
This is a key principle for making gains in the gym.
If you’re always using the same weight with the same reps and rest periods you won’t grow.
If you’re a beginner, it’s going to be fairly easy to add weight to the bar or complete an extra rep every workout.
On the other hand, more experienced lifters may not be able to increase the total workload every time they hit the weights. That’s ok.
The key to progressive overload is gradual increase over time.
Strategy #3: Have a Plan Going Into the Gym
This is a mistake that I see a lot of people make.
They’ll get to the gym, and then they’ll have no idea what they want to do!
How can you use the progressive overload principle if you don’t even know what you want to do when you step foot into the gym?
You must have a plan of exactly what you will do before you enter the gym.
This means you’ll need to know:
- The exercises you want to do
- The order you’ll do them in
- Number of sets
- Number of reps
- Length of rest periods
Don’t leave anything to chance simply because you failed to prepare ahead of time.
Now if you’re not sure how to structure a program etc., don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
Click the link below right now to download my free beginner’s 12-week workout program.
This is great for individuals who aren’t sure where to start and who need a solid plan of action when heading into the gym.
Strategy #4: Don’t Do High Reps to “Burn Fat”
This is a common misconception out there.
Many people think that they need to do high reps in order to burn fat while they’re at the gym.
Ladies will do high reps to get tone.
However, higher reps won’t burn fat anymore than lower reps will.
Sure a high amount of reps might burn more calories, but that difference will be miniscule.
The difference between lower reps and higher reps is the type of muscle growth that will be induced.
For more information on that, you can read the article below.
Do you know what will burn fat? Getting in a caloric deficit.
The easiest way to do that is by eating less, not high reps.
So start honing your attention in on that instead of doing endless amounts of reps with a water bottle.
Strategy #5: Don’t Eat Before a Workout if You’re Not Hungry
There’s no way that you’re workout could be as good as possible if you workout while in a fasted state right? Wrong.
I’ve had some of the best workouts in my life while fasted.
Try this for yourself, and you too might notice that you have more energy while working out.
It’s a complete myth that you have to have something in your system in order to perform your best, but this idea has been beat into our heads for so long that it’s easy to believe.
In fact, research provides evidence that exercise and fasting increase growth hormone levels.
So if you’re someone who’s looking to burn fat, definitely give working out in a fasted state a shot.
Strategy #6: Drink Coffee Before Your Workout
If you’re used to eating before your workout, it may take some time for your body to adapt.
If this is the case for you and you need some energy before your workout, try taking some black coffee to give you a boost.
Not only will it give you energy, but also coffee is also way lower in calories than a typical meal that you would eat before heading to the gym.
It’s also a lot cheaper than pre workout supplements as well.
So if you’re looking to save some cash, calories, and get some energy, then definitely give coffee a shot.
Strategy #7: Keep It Simple
Keep your workouts simple and focus on progressive overload.
Many people do unnecessary things in the gym for whatever reason, but that doesn’t mean you have to.
Doing squats and curls on a bosu ball are not only unnecessary, but it can also be dangerous.
Yet I still see people doing these kinds of things expecting to get great results.
Instead, focus key lifts using free weights and machines.
Some of my favorites include:
- Military Press
- Side Lateral Raises
- Incline Dumbbell Press
- Bulgarian Split Squats
If you get strong in these movements and have a low body fat percentage, you’re physique will look stellar.
It really doesn’t have to get any more complicated than that.
Strategy #8: Warm-Up Properly
You’ve probably heard someone preach about warm ups to prevent injury, yet many people skip them more than they should (myself included).
It’s easy to see why as much of the advice out there revolves around spending 5 minutes on the treadmill or static stretching, and doing that stuff is just plain boring.
For me, I like using warm-up sets on some of my staple lifts such as inclined dumbbell press and military press.
This makes more sense to me because you’re warming up your body with the same movements that you’re about to go heavy on.
Compare that to 5 minutes of cardio and then immediately jumping into a 300-pound bench press.
Of course it’s still a good idea to do some jumping jacks or jump rope beforehand to get the blood flowing, but you’re main focus should be on the warm-up sets.
Here’s a sample warm-up you can follow:
- 15 Jumping Jacks
- 15 Seal Jacks
- Big Arm Circles Forward for 15 seconds
- Big Arm Circles Backward for 15 seconds
- 15 Bodyweight Squats
- Do 2-3 progressive warm-up sets before your first exercise.
Strategy #9: Prioritize Your Weaker Muscle Groups
Do you have lagging biceps, triceps, or another lagging muscle group?
Well then start prioritizing and put them first in your workout.
Too many times people will start off with exercises like the bench press even though their chest is right where it needs to be.
Then by the time that they get to their tricep exercises, they’re already worn out.
The exercises for your weaker muscle groups need to be done first when you’re fresh so you can put maximum effort into them.
Yes this means you won’t be able to bench as much as you normally do, but that’s ok.
Don’t fool yourself and think you have to do you’re larger muscle groups first just because that’s the standard you’re used to seeing.
Of course if one of your bigger muscle groups is weaker, then still prioritize it.
Strategy #10: Change Things Up (But Not Too Often)
I think it’s important to change up your workout from time to time.
This is a good tactic to use if you’ve hit a plateau or if you’re starting to get really bored with your current workout regime.
However, don’t change up your workout plan unless you’ve been doing it for a minimum of 8 weeks. Why?
Well because you have to give your body a chance to make some progress on your current workout before you switch things up.
If you’re constantly doing something different, how can you ever build strength and focus on progressive overload? You simply can’t.
Strategy #11: Use Machines
A good way to change things up is to use machines.
Machines have been getting bashed a lot lately for no good reason.
Just because free weights recruit more stabilizer muscles doesn’t make machines completely worthless.
In fact machines are usually safer than free weights and they can allow you to better isolate body parts.
Now I’m not saying that you should completely ditch all of your free weight exercises in favor of machines.
What I am saying is that you should incorporate some machine exercises into your routine as you see fit.
Strategy #12: Skip Leg Day
“What skip leg day? You can’t be serious?”
Oh yes I’m very serious.
This idea of spending an entire workout in the gym just to obliterate your legs has never really made sense to me.
Instead you could be focusing more of that time on your upper body, which yes for all of you males out there, your upper body if more important aesthetically than your lower body is.
I’m not saying skip on leg training completely.
Instead, I’m recommending that you ditch leg day and incorporate one or two key leg exercises (Bulgarian split squats and standing calf raises for example) on one of your upper body days.
Doing an exercise such as the Bulgarian split squat 1-2 times per week will be just as good as “leg day” will be.
Strategy #13: Strength First, Pump Second
It’s a good idea to put your heavy strength building exercises first in the workout before you move onto your higher rep work.
This is because you want your body and nervous system to be fresh so that you can lift the heaviest amount of weight possible.
If you do your pump work first, you’ll already be worn out and you won’t be able to lift as much as possible, and obviously that’s the whole point of strength building exercises!
One exception I would make to this strategy is if you have a lagging muscle group.
I would still prioritize that weaker muscle group and use a higher rep range if it was a smaller body part (such as the biceps or triceps for example).
Strategy #14: Do Cardio at the End of Weights or a Separate Day
It makes sense to do your cardio at the end of your weight training session for the same reasons you shouldn’t do your strength building exercises last in your workout.
You don’t want to be zapped before you even touch a weight!
As soon as you finish lifting weights, then go and do your cardio workout.
Now if you feel too tired afterwards, then I recommend that you just do your cardio on a day where you don’t lift weights.
This’ll allow you to put 100% effort into that cardio session.
Strategy #15: Don’t Program Hop
I think this is something that holds a lot of people back.
They’ll start one program and once the newness of it wears off, they’ll move onto the next thing.
I’m telling you right now that you need to pick one program and stick with it until the end. No more bailing after 3 weeks.
Sure you might not be seeing the results you were expecting, but that’s probably because you haven’t given the program enough time to work for you.
If you didn’t achieve your desired results after completing the program and following it exactly as it’s laid out, then you can honestly say that it didn’t work for you.
Strategy #16: Be Consistent
This is probably the most important strategy listed.
None of these other strategies really matter if you don’t actually go to the gym regularly.
Going 4 times one week and none the next won’t do you any good.
Focus on doing what you can handle so that you can make a habit out of it.
I’ve talked about this idea in another post that you can read by clicking on the link below.
For beginners, I recommend going to the gym 2-3 times per week for about 30-45 minutes each session.
This might not seem like a lot, but it’s manageable. O
nce you have been consistent with this, then you can focus on going more if you feel up to it.
At the end of the day, none of these strategies can work for you if you don’t actually go to the gym and try them out.
It would be far better to actually take action and use one of these tips, instead of just reading about all of them and doing nothing.
So what are you waiting for?
Go try some of them out!
Finally if you enjoyed this article, share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.
Also I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section down below.
Which strategy was your favorite?
Do you have any other strategies you would like to share?
Whatever your thoughts are let me know!