Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest with all the trees blocking your view. In bodybuilding, it is easy to lose sight of the fundamentals and get caught up in the nitty-gritty details you read about in the magazines all the time. Time for a little checklist of do’s and don’ts to make sure you’re on track!
DO Check Your Vitals
Although you may deem this as “not necessary”, but checking your physiological vitals is extremely important prior to any form of exercise. A quick check of your blood pressure, pulse rate and resting heart rate will ensure a smooth exercise regime.
DO Watch What You Eat
Diet is just as much a part of fitness as exercise, and what you eat will affect every aspect of your workout. A proper diet also influences the results of you fitness plan, since it helps build muscle and decrease the percentage of fat in your overall body weight.
- What to eat: Prior to working out (15 minutes to half an hour), do consume apples, bananas and oatmeal particularly if you are training for more than an hour. Being low in glycemic index, these foods help to fuel and energize your muscles for a longer time. However, do not stuff yourself just minutes before your exercise session. The ideal pre-exercise meal should be around 2 hours before exercise.
- What not to eat: Don’t take foods that are high in protein and fat levels as they take a longer time to digest. On the contrary, your workout capacity will be reduced as this type of fuel draws oxygen and energy delivering blood from your exercising muscles to your stomach. Trust us; the last thing you would want during your exercise sessions is stomach cramps caused by the ingestion of a heavy diet of proteins and fats.
DO Wear Loose Fitting Clothes
It is true that looking good and trendy helps to stay motivated and confident while exercising. However, do not wear extremely tight garments that not only restrict your free movements but also the proper supply of oxygen containing blood to your exercising muscles. There are a variety of options to choose from but select a variety that breathes well, dries fast and maintains its shape without stretching.
DO Maintain Hygiene
Exercise and hygiene should always be regarded as synonymous to each other. Perhaps, one of the most important factors to check and ensure before exercising is that personal hygiene is maintained at all times. Take a shower after each workout, and keep a clean towel at hand to wipe off exercise sweat and prevent the spread of germs.
DO Start Off Moderately
Work your way into a routine. Going overboard after a long respite from exercise may result in injury, or at least disappointment. Your workout shouldn’t do either, so build up from a moderate beginning.
For maximum benefit at minimum injury risk, the body needs to rest and recover. At least a 24-hour rest after heavy muscle strain is advised. Stagger workouts between heavy and light strain. For example, you can alternate a weight training routine with biking.
DO Warm Up and Cool Down
A low-impact warm-up before any exercise is essential. It warms the muscles, makes them more limber and easier to stretch, which results in a better workout. It also helps to prevent injury. Run on a treadmill, perform flexibility movements or jog a while in order to engage all your muscle fibers before exercising. The basic idea is to prepare the involved muscles physiologically and psychologically so that you do not end up causing injury to these muscles or overstretching them.
Cooling down after exercising is also important as it relaxes the muscles, lowers the heart rate, and helps the body to recover from the stress of a workout. It’ll make you feel better immediately after the workout, and the next morning.
DO Proper Relaxation
Don’t hit the gym or attempt any kind of high-intensity exercise if you are not properly relaxed or are stressed out due to some reason. The key to a successful workout session is the combined interaction of mind and body. Detach yourself from your regular mundane work pressures or unpleasant thoughts and try to invoke a sense of inner peace and relaxation through meditative techniques, music or even guided imagery. You can also practice gradual breathing exercises to divert your mind from worldly matters and focus on your health and fitness.
Flexibility is one of the most important factors of fitness. Stretching before, during and after a workout will result in better performance, good posture, fewer injuries, and overall better fitness.
DON’T Push an Injury
Listen to your body. If you feel pain, stop. Muscle and joint pain can mean many things — pushing a small hurt can lead to big problems later on. If pain persists more than a few days, see a doctor.
DO Consult a Trainer
If you belong to a gym, you may have the opportunity to consult a certified trainer. He or she can help you craft a reasonable workout plan, tailored for your goals. A trainer can also teach proper form with exercise equipment. Even if you are experienced, bad habits can be developed.
DON’T Get Bored
Don’t get bored with your workout. New exercises can break the monotony, and the excitement of perfecting new skills can help motivate. Since different exercises work different parts of the body, a diverse workout will aid overall fitness.
DO Find a Workout Partner
If motivation is your problem, a workout partner might be the solution. A partner can motivate you to workout when you normally might not, and can help improve your workout by watching form, encouraging extra effort, and pacing. Try to pick a partner with abilities equal to your own.
DON’T Lose Concentration
Preoccupation with outside situations can counteract the benefits of a workout. For example, you might decrease intensity as you lose concentration. And not paying attention to a workout can lead to sloppy style and potential injury. Instead, use the time to concentrate on proper form and control. It will lead to a better workout, greater benefits, and a more relaxing experience.
DON’T Dehydrate Yourself
When exercising, the body needs four to eight ounces of water every 20 minutes to replace water loss. If you become thirsty during a workout, you’ve already passed out of a “safe” stage of hydration. Take fluids immediately. If you are working out for more than an hour, you may want to consider sports drinks, as the extra carbohydrates help retain body water.
DO Have Fun!
The benefits to working out don’t pay off if you don’t enjoy yourself. This isn’t an excuse for not exercising, as it’s still vital to your health. But finding a workout that you enjoy will make the difference when setting a workout schedule that will stick.