Feel Sluggish During Your Workouts? Try These Easy Tips To Stay Energized

pexels-photo-131191You know the feeling. One minute you are amped, motivated and walking into the gym like Superman and then suddenly, right at the start of your workout, you are huffing, puffing and wondering what the hell is causing you to move and feel like Eeyore. While we would all like to believe that consistent, hard workouts alone will yield infinite energy for future sessions, sometimes this sluggish feeling creeps up without notice, killing your mood and your gains. But do not fear. This depressing state doesn’t need to be a reality. Proper pre-workout preparation as well as some easy lifestyle adjustments is all you need to keep your superhuman fitness powers alive and energy reserves in place.

Tip #1 – Minimize beer or wine nights and stay hydrated

I’m not hating on nightcaps – I am a big believer on its necessity – but too many within a week can affect the quality of your workouts, leaving you dehydrated and sluggish. Rather than regularly giving into wine nights or beer fests to “take the edge off”, try a more long-term, anti-stress approach by drinking plenty of water. Benefits of water include an improved mood, a natural flushing of toxins and relieved fatigue. Most of us have heard of the “8 by 8” rule (eight glasses of water per day), but the Mayo Clinic and Institute of Medicine actually recommend 9-13 cups daily (depending on your level of activity, temperature and diet). A good way to break this up is to drink two glasses with breakfast, one with a 10am fluid-rich snack (like fruit), two with lunch, two with dinner and two before you hit the bed (also with a fluid-rich snack). This may seem like a lot at first, but this schedule is an effective way to spread out your fluid intake and develop a habitual routine.

Tip #2 – Eat slow-digesting carbs prior to workout sessions

Without getting to “sciency,” the body extracts energy from three primary sources made up of carbohydrates, fat and muscle respectively. Eating slow-digesting carbs (paired with protein) 1-2 hours prior to workouts, ensure that the body has a spread of energy throughout your sessions. For an early-morning workout, toast with peanut butter or oatmeal with a protein shake are a couple good options and for night owls, a fruit smoothie with Greek yogurt works wonders.

Tip #3 – Engage in activities that lower stress

While it is common and even normal to feel stressed out from time-to-time, allowing the little violin to play too long affects your health and energy. While there are multiple ways to reduce stress, an easy way to neutralize the issue is to take 10-15 minutes to meditate, breath and write 4-5 specific, productive/helpful activities you did throughout the week as proof that you’re a rock star. I also make it a requirement to watch comedy shows or humorous YouTube videos whenever the ugly feeling wants to creep in and drain my energy.

Tip #4 – Incorporate caffeine as pre-workout fuel

Believe it or not, caffeine is one of the best pre-workout sources you can use to boost energy prior to your fitness session. Obviously, proper measurement/amount is necessary to avoid addiction, withdrawals and the dreaded jitters. About one cup of coffee is all you need for a good effect and for all you natural foodies, a cup of hot black tea also provides a light boost to your metabolism and energy, ensuring you remain in beast mode.

Like a machine, the body requires careful attention and fuel to ensure that it performs at its best during workout sessions. A lifestyle of proper hydration, anti-stress activities and effective pre-workout foods/drinks help to minimize the issue of sluggish fitness sessions. What are some additional tricks you use to improve a lack of energy during your workouts?

6 Unspoken Gym Etiquette Rules You Should Follow To Avoid Being “That Guy”

incredible-hulk-1527199_640.jpgAs the new week begins, you decide to start the day off making good decisions by going to the gym. With a workout song list in place and completed warm-up, you begin your gym session when suddenly you start seeing some odd behavior. You notice the local meathead pushing 315 pounds on the incline bench press while only moving within two inches of motion and another member doing a set of curls in the squat rack. Frustrated? Intimidated? Do not fear. You are not alone. Whether you are a victim of these atrocities or obliviously guilty, there are a few unwritten gym etiquette rules fitness enthusiasts of all shapes and sizes can follow to maximize overall fitness goals while avoiding a negative gym reputation.

  1. Avoid slamming weights after each set

We get it. You decided to take double helpings of pre-workout and are amped about your gym session. It is slightly understandable if you are lifting dumbbells the size of Thor’s hammer with perfect form, but your ground pound from 20 lb. dumbbells look more childish rather than masculine. After your set, try placing dumbbells or equipment back on the floor (or starting point) slowly while squeezing the working muscle group. This provides what I call a “final negative,” which helps spur muscle growth while showing good gym etiquette.

  1. Share mirror space

For many, the mirror is used to ensure proper form and/or fuel motivation during workouts, but sharing is caring. A slight step to the right while someone is lifting behind you helps everyone use the mirror for a solid workout while showing etiquette to your fellow lifters.

  1. Focus on breathing rather than grunting or howling

While battle cries in movies like “300” or “Braveheart” are powerful and motivating scenes, similar man calls aren’t quite as epic at the gym. Rather than shouting or grunting, try focusing on breathing. Breathing out during the “lift” portion of an exercise and in during the “negative,” not only improves safety, but also prevents you from sounding like you’re about to soil yourself after each rep.

  1. Use exercise machines by its intended purpose

Whether you have worked out for 15 years or are just starting out, nothing is more frustrating than waiting for a sought after machine to see, for example, someone using the only decline bench press bar to deadlift. This can be avoided by using free weights or alternative exercises to work specific muscle groups. This helps to break lifting “plateaus” while ensuring everyone has their moment on popular equipment.

  1. Wipe off machines after use

If you are sweating during your workout, that’s great news…. just try not to leave a nasty puddle on the machine cushions. Most gyms have multiple spray bottles and paper towels that are only a few steps away. Wiping off excess sweat on machines is good for hygiene and shows you are a beastly gentleman or classy woman.

  1. Save long text sessions and phone conversations for after the gym

You will reach your fitness goals faster by focusing on your lifts rather than your texts. Long text sessions or phone conversations not only hurt your gym reputation, but also hurt your gains. Turning your phone off (or using it solely for music) during the time of your workout helps to ensure the mind, muscle connection needed to spur maximum muscle growth and/or weight loss.

So there you have it. By following these six unspoken gym etiquette rules, you can boost both your gym reputation and gains. What are some other unspoken rules you think fitness enthusiasts should follow?

7 Good Habits To Develop A Healthy Lifestyle

breakfast-1232620_640You just got back from a fast-food lunch…again. You say that you want to get in better shape and begin your amazing journey into having Ryan Reynold’s washboard abs or Megan Fox’s tone…but you put it off…again. Let’s get real, this is not going to happen overnight and it usually takes months of committment and discipline to reach and maintain a lean and muscular physique. The good news is that there are some easy habits that can help you develop a lifetime of health and wellness.

  1. Begin with small goals

Instead of going for one big weight loss goal, break it down to smaller ones – I go with bi-weekly. Log your progress to stay on track.

  1. Pack up lunch

Not only will you save money, but you will also have a better chance of turning down the temptation of fresh grease at the golden arches. Prepare each lunch the night before with lean meats such as poultry, fish and whole wheat breads and pastas. Also, drink lots of water and stay away from sugary drinks like soda. Oh, and don’t forget to include at least 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of veggies.

  1. Sweat it out for 30 minutes

At least 30 minutes of a moderately intense workout five days each week can yield noticeable results over time. Health benefits also include lower stress levels, a sharper brain, a healthier heart and lower cancer risk. If the gym is not your scene, a simple bench and a few sets of dumbbells can target all key muscle groups.

  1. Pick a good time to workout and stay consistent

Choose a specific time to workout at least 4-5 times a week and stick with it. You will be more likely to develop a good, consistent habit.

  1. Get a motivated workout buddy

Having a workout buddy can help keep both of you in check and can also make the workout more enjoyable. Take pictures of yourselves before you begin and log your progress.

  1. Reward yourself

Reward yourself for staying consistent by giving yourself a cheat day every week. Just make sure you don’t cheat too much!

  1. Sleep at least 7-8 hours every night

Last, but not least, it is time to reap the rewards from all of your efforts. Sleep is the time that muscles grow and repair, so by staying up too late and not getting adequate rest, you are preventing your body from cutting fat and building muscle.

Consistency is the key to long-term health and wellness.  What are some ways you will maintain your fitness goals for the rest of the summer?