When it comes to getting lean and muscular
your dietary consistency and performance in the gym are the two factors that will define your success. Just as you work to be more adherent and compliant to your diet each and every day, you should also be striving to lift more weight, achieve a higher level of intensity
, and blast through training plateaus with each trip to the gym. In this article I want to share with you six different things that you can do to enhance your performance at the gym TODAY.
1) Take anhydrous caffeine before you hit the gym.
The caffeine in a cup of coffee is fine but if you are looking to reap the performance enhancing benefits of caffeine, it isn't going to cut it. The caffeine that you get from a cup of coffee is extremely variable from the type of bean to the level that the bean is roasted. One cup of coffee can vary in caffeine content from 95 to 200 mg. Anhydrous caffeine is a different story.
This is the caffeine that you will find in a most fat burners, pre-workout supplements, or straight caffeine pills
. When it comes to increasing performance, anhydrous caffeine is where all the research lies. Having caffeine before you hit the gym can decrease your rate of perceived exertion and decrease exercise induced muscle pain so you can grind out more reps. The levels of caffeine used to elicit different physiological responses differs just about as much as individual tolerance so start with a lower does and work your way up.
[Editor's Note: ProSource.net readers have long known the impact a premium-quality pre-workout supplement can have on workout performance, intensity and the benefits derived from those workouts. An elite performance catalyst like BioQuest's Zycor
will generate a smooth, even, long-lasting surge of energy, facilitated via ultra-bioactive energy factors, that can be felt within minutes of ingestion. Indeed, many athletes prefer the long wave of productive energy they get from Zycor to the jittery, over-stimulated feeling (often followed by a steep crash) delivered by more basic compounds.]
2) Get Hydrated.
Water doesn't get enough credit for its anabolic properties. It is so simple but being properly hydrated is arguably the most important performance optimizing
strategy you can put into place. A study done with cyclists found that just a 3% reduction in body weight due to dehydration led to a 30% decrease in performance. What is even worse is that you will suffer from decreases in performance with just a 2% reduction in your body weight from dehydration. Some performance detriments that happen at this small level of hydration include:
- Impaired Thermoregulation (i.e. increase in core temperature)
Decrease in Cardiovascular Function (Increased heart rate)
Increase in perceived exertion (feeling like you're working harder than you are)
Reduced motivation and effort
Aim for 2 clear urinations per day to ensure optimal hydration levels and at least one before you hit the gym.
3) Add Citrulline Malate to your preworkout mix.
Citrulline Malate is an amino acid precursor to arginine (that is actually a more efficient way of increase blood arginine levels then taking in more arginine). Citrulline malate is going to help you perform better in the gym by increasing energy delivery and increasing the clearance of metabolic waste which when left hanging around degrades performance. Research shows that supplementing with 8 grams of citrulline malate prior to a workout allowed participants to crank out 50% more reps on their 16th and final set of a chest workout. In addition to helping fight fatigue so that the lifters could lift more, the people that took citrulline malate reported 40% less soreness 24 and 48 hours after their workout compared to the people who training without citrulline malate.
4) Load Your Muscles with Beta-Alanine.
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid derivative of carnosine normally found in low concentration in the body. Beta-alanine combines with histidine to form carnosine; so you supplement with beta-alanine in order to increase your muscle carnosine levels. 6.4 grams of beta-alanine per day has been shown to bump up muscle carnosine levels by 64% after just 28 days. Why do you want more carnosine in your muscles? Fatigue buffering. Carnosine works in your muscles to buffer changes in pH by soaking up loose hydrogen atoms. When you are training (especially the brutal metabolic stuff), lactic acid builds in your muscles. The buildup of this acidic compound in your working muscles is the equivalent of flipping the 'fatigue switch'; it signals your body that your muscles are working too hard and that they need to stop. Carnosine counteracts lactic acid and keeps the pH in your muscles from rapidly decreasing allowing you to bang out some extra reps before you body waves the white flag.
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5) Continuous Fueling During Exercise.
If your training session only lasts 45-60 minutes then you don't need this tip but once your workouts start creeping closer to 90 minutes and beyond, fueling during your training session becomes important. When your training sessions become longer the preworkout increase in your blood sugar and amino acid levels (due to your preworkout shake) will start to decline. Sipping on a workout shake containing carbohydrates and/or BCAAs
(depending what your training goals are at that time) will help keep blood sugar and amino acid levels optimized, you training hard, and anabolic.
6) Post Activation Potentiation
Up until now all my performance enhancing tips have been nutritionally related but here is a great neuromuscular hack that will make you stronger right away. I'm talking about post activation potentiation or PAP. I first learned of PAP from my trainer Bill Hartman and the application is simple. If you are going to perform sets of 6-8 reps before you start your working sets prime or potentiate your nervous system with a non-max effort (but heavier then your 6-8 rep working sets) set of 1-2 reps. Preloading with a heavier weight seems to recruit more motor units and fires up your nervous system so that went you do your working sets of 6-8 reps you'll be able to use a higher load.
Put these tips into action and watch your numbers in the gym increase plain and simple.