Written by Andrew Carruthers

Maximising your efforts in the gym each and every day ensures that you reach those muscle gain goals in the shortest time frame possible.

Here are 5 mid week tips on making sure your daily efforts are effective in the gym.

Always start your workout with strength training

Effective energy is limited to around 1-1.5 hours depending on how long you train for each day but the strength aspect of your training is even shorter if you deplete your strength reserves by either first performing cardio or doing too many volume sets before trying to apply true strength. So first things first, after a few warm up sets, choose the compound movements of the muscle group you are training and start with those. Golden rule number 1 is that strength training with intensity increases muscle size. The more weight you can push, the bigger your muscles get – period. Pushing as much weight as you can shouldn’t involve your ego though, so train according to you own limitations and not to impress your training partner or trying to do the same weight he does. Train according to your body’s abilities and not someone else’s. Never sacrifice form for the sake of weight – find the perfect balance. Once you have performed your strength training, you’ll know when the strength aspect of your routine is over because you’ll no longer be able to perform the same sets effectively and consecutively for too long. Shoot for between 8 (very heavy) and 12 reps on your strength training sets. Once you have completed your strength training sets then move onto other movements and increase your rep range. As much as strength is an important factor to consider when growing muscle it is important that you also focus on the stretching of the muscle during sets ensuring a good stretch and a good contraction of the muscle you are training. Without stretching or performing movements with good form, the external fascia of the muscle that houses all the smaller internal fibres cannot allow the muscle to grow. So remember, strength first, volume later and always do cardio after weight training if your goal is to build muscle.

Build your body

They say training is 20% of the daily process, whilst everything else you do in a day is the remaining 80% of ensuring you’re building muscle. Within that 80% bracket comes the eating, hydrating, resting and sleeping. Building muscle requires smart nutrition. Make sure that you’re consuming around 2-2.5g of protein per lean kg of muscle you are carrying on your body. If you’re not sure what your lean muscle weight is then consider having a body analysis done so that you can find out what your lean mass is. Vary your intake of daily protein sources for maximum absorption by your body. Eating too much of the same protein source builds up a resistance of the body’s ability to absorb the protein derived from the sources you feed it. Make sure you take in fast absorbing protein (eggs) and slow release proteins (meats) for a sustained daily release of protein into the blood stream.

Mix up your training

Performing the same routine on each muscle group allows your body the chance to resist changing. As I mentioned above, perform strength training for each body part but also vary the order in which you train your body. If you have a list of 10 exercises you can or like doing for a certain muscle group then change them around and keep the body guessing what exercise is coming next. Use a variety of training methods such as full range movements, partial movements, half rep/full rep combinations, super-sets, drop sets and giant sets (if your stamina is high) and rest-pause style sets. Building muscle requires your body to be hit from all angles with lots of intensity. Always train to failure.

Stay hydrated

One sure way of knowing that you haven’t consumed enough water is the feeling of lethargy (tiredness). If you’ve slept well, eaten well and had a stress-free day then the chances of you feeling lethargy could be the result of insufficient hydration. Always keep water on hand and make sure you drink continuously throughout the day. If you struggle to drink water, check out Pro Nutrition’s flavour drops which turn any bottle into a flavour sensation without any hidden calories or tricks. Remember, keeping energy levels high ensures you can train hard and train with intensity – exactly what is needed to push through a grueling workout and grow muscle. Stay hydrated.

Learn to work with intensity, not against it

Most people stop their sets when the going gets tough. The truth is, that’s when the set starts! All the other reps you did to build up to the point of difficulty or intensity are just the building blocks of the set. The real training happens when things get tough and your body starts to resist moving the weight. Complete focus and the will not to give up and push through a final few reps is what separates the best from the rest. The real results lie in the intensive part of each set and how we push through. Don’t give up when you can’t perform a full range of motion, but rather perform half reps to completely blast through the set.Another huge factor that influences every thing we do in the gym is how we respond to our external environment. Being in a productive and positive environment and keeping your state of mind in a positive place will minimise stress hormones inside your body from running around and causing havoc. Remember, your goal is to better yourself, not just physically, but mentally as well. Life happens on a daily basis but how we react to external stress and influence dictates everything in our lives. Learn to respond or become less sensitive to stressful situations for the benefit of your own mind, body and soul. External actions are powerless without your reaction and how you react to external influences plays a key role in how we remain positive and motivated. Remember, take care of yourself first.