Though it is certainly wise to take an occasional respite from the rigors of high intensity weight training, consistency of effort is, for the most part, the surest way to optimal gains in lean muscle mass. Missed workouts can, and will, curtail our mass-building efforts. Without the regular stimulation of our muscles through increasingly heavier and more intensive workloads, they will simply fail to adequately respond (as there will be nothing to respond to). Atrophy will occur and we will again have to ramp up the volume if further gains are to be sought.
As active participants in the 21st century “rat-race”, the hectic lives we lead leaches from us much of our energy – both mental and physical – the biggest problem many of us face when preparing to train is, first, finding the motivation to get started and, second, ensuring our sessions are sufficiently intense so as to elicit maximal muscle stimulation. It is so easy to slack off. Self-preservation is a fundamental prerequisite for survival and when faced with the prospect of further draining precious energy resources many of us engage survival mode (we avoid that which may further deplete us, namely training), and the last thing we wish to do, from the sanctity of such a comfort zone, is to bench 205 for 12-15 reps.
All of that being said, how do we foster the energy needed to train when we do not have the energy needed to train? The following ten tips will explain how we can build the energy we need to train all out and, how we can, if needed, generate enough should our supply have dwindled to near zero.
1. Chill Out!
The busy lives most of us lead often preclude adequate downtime for our minds to rest and relax; with so much to do we find ourselves at times literally gasping for breath. Though we often don’t physically feel the damaging effects of our 24/7 on-the-go lifestyles, until it’s too late that is, a lackluster workout should hint at a need to slow down.
TO ENSURE WE HAVE ENOUGH ENERGY LEFT FOR OUR TRAINING SESSIONS, WE MUST BE AWARE OF HOW THE MANY DEMANDS OF OUR DAY HAVE ROBBED US OF THE MENTAL FIREPOWER WE’LL NEED WHEN IT COMES TIME TO LIFT.
There are plenty of opportunities throughout the average day to catch some downtime: when eating breakfast, forego those emails and simply sit in silence and enjoy the moment – the calm before the storm. When travelling, turn off your hand held, stay away from the news and instead listen to some music. Whenever you get the opportunity, tune out and relax. You may think this to be wasted time, but the improved quality of what you can accomplish with a rested mind will tell you it’s an investment not to be overlooked.
2. Prioritize Sleep
Closely related to tip 1 is the undeniable benefits to be realized through proper sleep. Today I almost (almost!) put off my morning training session. Why? Because last night I worked late and, today, had to rise early; this shortened by two hours the duration of my normal seven hour sleeping period.
Through proper sleep (generally accepted to be around 7-9 hours per night) we not only facilitate the muscle building process through the protein synthesis, growth hormone and testosterone release that occurs during these hours, but we re-energize and top-up both mentally and physically.
WHEN WE GET ENOUGH SLEEP WE ARE BETTER ABLE TO FOCUS ON OUR DAILY TASKS, INCLUDING OUR WORKOUTS, AND OUR MUSCLES, HAVING RECOVERED SUFFICIENTLY, ARE AGAIN READY TO SUPPORT OUR EFFORTS AT THE GYM.
Consistently achieving 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night could be the single most important way to ensure we are functioning on all cylinders – and ready to push some serious weight.
3. Avoid Haters
As with all negative stress, associating with negative people can deplete our energy levels to render us less capable of fully exerting ourselves where it counts, in the gym. By engaging in pointless arguments over trivial matters with small-minded people, we tax our nervous systems, diminish our focus, and drain our carbohydrate reserves (the mental effort needed to defend one’s stance or to justify a position requires much brain power, and our brains are powered by carbohydrates).
SIMPLY LISTENING TO THE RANTING OF A NEGATIVE PERSON CAN PROVE MENTALLY EXHAUSTING, ESPECIALLY WHEN THE CONVERSATION TURNS TO THINGS WHICH ARE CLOSE TO OUR HEARTS, LIKE BODYBUILDING, NUTRITION AND WEIGHT LIFTING.
To ensure you have the mental energy needed to apply 100 percent effort in the training trenches, and to maintain one’s sanity, avoid negative people like the plague.
4. Eat Enough Carbs
A no-brainer you say? Well, in the many years I have spent training people I would say the greatest contributor to low energy levels among trainees would have to be, by far, insufficient carbohydrate intake. Though many people feel they are getting enough carbs in their diet, closer inspection almost always reveals a significant lack of this important energizing macro-nutrient.
MANY, FOR FEAR OF ADDING UNWANTED BODYWEIGHT, CUT BACK ON THEIR CARB INTAKE. THIS IS A MISTAKE.
So long as one trains hard and the types of carbohydrates they consume are of the complex and fibrous variety, which include things like brown rice, sweet potatoes, whole grains and broccoli, there is little chance of piling on the fat. These people would, on the other hand, be surprised at the positive impact a high carbohydrate diet can have on their training intensity levels. I advise my clients to up their carbs 24 hours before a hard training session. This ensures more weight can be lifted, and workout duration will no longer be a limiting factor.
5. Drink Enough Water
Dehydration, however slight, can lead to the improper processing of nutrients, most significantly carbohydrates.
To sufficiently store one carbohydrate gram, we must provide three grams of water. Should carbohydrates not be stored in adequate amounts our training energy will also be compromised. Further, fully hydrated muscles are better able to generate force and have a leverage advantage, making them stronger and more capable of sustaining multiple muscular contractions. Finally, whenever we sweat we must rapidly replace any lost water lest we experience muscular weakness, low blood pressure, fatigue and dizziness. Without enough water when training our muscles accumulate waste products and must be flushed of these to again function optimally. To ensure optimal hydration drink between 2-4 liters of clean fresh water per day.
6. Mentally Visualize Your Workouts
A training trick of many a bodybuilding champ is visualization: the process of picturing in your mind important training-related outcomes, and focusing intently upon these, so as to program the mind for success.
WHEN LOW ENERGY FORCES US TO THE TRAINING SIDELINES, FIND A QUIET SPOT AND TAKE THE TIME TO MENTALLY REHEARSE WHAT IT IS YOU WISH TO ACCOMPLISH.
Not only is a rested mind more conducive to greater training focus, but the mental programming it receives via visualization will enable you to “flip the switch” and apply maximal intensity when it’s called for.
7. Avoid Distractions
Cast your eye around the interior of your local gym and you will see many people talking more than they train: that’s right, the ones with more muscle on their jaw-lines than on their biceps. Talking, letting your mind wander, listening to the conversations of others, or mentally preparing your grocery list – these all dilute the training experience.
The more mental energy you can apply to the training process, the higher your intensity will be and the greater the results. The most successful bodybuilders are inevitably those who can channel their energies into their training while blocking out all distractions. Achieving training outcomes is all about maximizing your workout time while distributing your energy evenly across the duration of a given session. Becoming distracted will only serve to negate this process.
8. Music Motivates
If you find yourself with near-zero energy levels but have, to your credit, decided to train anyway, it might be time for some energizing music. Whatever pushes your buttons, use this to elevate and inspire training intensity as you grasp that bar for rep number one.
WHETHER THROUGH HEADPHONES OR A SOUND SYSTEM, PUMPING UP THE VOLUME BEFORE PUMPING OUT THOSE REPS CAN PROFOUNDLY AFFECT YOUR TRAINING MINDSET.
Music. Fighters use it when walking out to battle; armies often use it when marching off to war; and for many of us, it helps to lift the spirits when life gets us down. It is not surprising then, that bodybuilders employ music – often hard rock or rap – to enhance their training output. Whether it’s “Welcome to the Jungle” or “Momma Said Knock You Out”, we all have a favorite piece of music that sets our wheels in motion. Find yours and use it to fuel more productive workouts.
9. Take a Pre-Workout Supplement
Though total nutritional intake is clearly an important factor in boosting workout energy levels, targeted supplementation with a reputable pre-workout has become one of the most effective ways to further elevate training intensity. Through the vasodilation of blood vessels, enhanced ATP production, alertness and mental arousal through CNS stimulation, pre-workout supplements allow us to train harder for longer and at higher levels of intensity than ever before. By combining all of these factors – as is achieved through ALLMAX’s RAZOR8 Blast Powder – the bodybuilder, however mentally and physically drained they may be, is able to draw upon a new found, rapidly supplied, energy source enabling them to to ramp up their training efforts for the full duration of their workouts.
10. Have a Plan
Failing to plan, is planning to fail. With the right training plan in place, one’s mind is unburdened by what needs to be done to achieve their bodybuilding outcomes. Whenever we are unsure of what we are about to embark upon, we inevitably spend time, and mental energy, trying to figure it out when we should be focusing our energies on completing the task at hand. Before any workout, be sure to know exactly what it is you wish to accomplish; ideally, this can be offloaded into a training diary which, if any doubt arises, can then be referred to at any stage of one’s workout. Know how long you expect to train for and the exact number of exercises, sets and reps you will be aiming to achieve. Only then will your mind be free to execute your game plan.
Training to build copious amounts of muscle can be challenging at the best of times. A failure to employ any of the above strategies can make it doubly so, and the energy we expend on irrelevant matters when we should be focusing it, laser-beam-like, on the task ahead is nothing more than a complete waste of time and effort. So before you decide to hit the gym, re-energize, be sure to prepare properly, get your mind in the game and prepare to push some weight. Fresh gains in lean muscle mass will be compensation enough for the time you invest in proper preparation and discipline.