6 Tricks To Enhance A Weight-lifting Routine
The trick to building muscle doesn’t simply lie in the act of lifting weights. What you do before, during, and after a weight-lifting circuit can make all the difference in how much muscle mass you actually gain. Don’t miss these 6 quick tips for enhancing your weight-lifting routine:
Don’t Forget to Stretch
The intensity of a weight-lifting circuit actually results in a bursting buildup of blood, lactic acid, and jumbled up muscle fibers in your muscle tissue. Static stretching after a workout when muscles are warm and pliable can help flush out blood and built-up toxins as well as reorganize muscle fibers and deliver fresh oxygen and nutrients to starved cells.
Experts recommend holding stretches for at least 20 seconds at a time to really give your muscles a good stretch and keep them limber and elastic. This may help prevent fitness injuries as well as keep the muscles from shortening after your weight-lifting circuits. A dynamic cool down with a walk or quick pedal on a stationary pedal exerciser works as well.
Execute on Post-Workout Nutrition
Refueling the body after an intense workout isn’t just about restoring energy to get through the rest of your day. The most critical part of consuming vital nutrients after you lift weights is to give your body the boost it needs to accelerate tissue repair and muscle growth. Not only do your cells require energy from carbohydrates which break down and circulate quickly, but they need protein to go about reinforcing muscle fibers as well as electrolytes, including potassium and magnesium, to aid muscle contraction. Great post-workout snacks include:
- Greek yogurt
- Whole grain oats or wraps
- Roasted sweet potato
- Fruits like banana, pineapple, kiwi, etc.
- Lean meats
- Peanut butter
Sweating during your workout indicates that your body is pushing itself and you are getting the exercise you need to really make a difference, however, it also means you are losing a ton of water and electrolytes. Rehydrating during and after your workout to replace water you lost as well as to power strong kidney function (which helps you filter out toxins) is a must. Even if you chug milk or a protein shake after you lift weights, don’t forget to drink plain ol’ water as well!
Practice Negative Resistance
Amplify your weight-lifting routine by emphasizing negative resistance. What does that mean? Well if you approach the upward or outward movement of weight-lifting as “positive”, then the downward or returning movement would be the “negative”. By prolonging that negative movement even by a few seconds, you emphasize added resistance and potentially boost your gains.
For example, in a horizontal seated leg press, slow the time which you return your legs to starting position by counting to 5 or 6 instead of bringing them down right away. It may require you to lift less weight at first, but this “negative” practice will benefit your muscle growth big time.
Find Better Support
Sidelined by a fitness injury or worried about reinjuring a bad knee? Find support with orthotic aids like wrist or knee braces that can keep you lifting successfully - see more knee braces here. Helpful aids like braces, wraps, sleeves, and kinesio tape can provide compression to help address potential inflammation as well as stabilize weaker joints to prevent injury.
If weight-lifting is off the table because of an injury, consider cross-training with low-impact activities that still help you engage key muscle groups without the shock of heavy weight-lifting; activities might include swimming, cycling, hiking, or even dancing.
Ditch The Machines
If you are stuck in a weight training rut based on hopping from one machine to the next, it might be time to take a break and focus on free weights and body weight exercises instead. Lifting with everything from dumbbells to free weights requires engaging muscle groups not just for lifting and resistance, but for balance, core control, and form. Perfecting lifting technique is easier with free weights, plus you can throw in spurts of high intensity interval training like 30 seconds of plyometric jump squats or burpees.