Follow these simple gym rules to be a better player
1. Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance – Making sure you are adequately fuelled and hydrated should be started at the very least the day before you train not in the car on the… way to the gym! See how Danny Care prepares here. Make sure you have eaten and had time to digest at least one meal depending on the time of day you train and you have drunk at least one litre of water. A good rule of thumb is that every time you pee it should be clear and odourless. Note though that some vitamins and supplements may change the colour of your urine. When you have finished training eat a balanced meal and rehydrate – see how Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson recovers here. Training is 1/24th of your day and recovery is 23/24ths so make sure to do it right!
2. Use the right equipment – You wouldn’t play rugby on a muddy pitch in trainers so to make the most of your gym training you need the right footwear and clothing. The 3 essentials for the gym are shoes, a belt and lifting chalk.
a) Weightlifting shoes are an essential if you are going to squat, deadlift or perform Olympic lifts as the wooden heel gives you a solid, stable platform rather than the cushioned and therefore unstable surface most running trainers have.
b) A good belt will help you brace your midsection and protect your back when lifting.
c) Lifting chalk will keep your hands dry ensuring you are able to properly grip your weights without having to rely on straps which when used excessively prevent grip strength developing.
3. Warm up – if you haven’t time to warm up you haven’t time to train. Get the blood flowing with 5 minutes of skipping, rowing or running, perform some dynamic stretches and start each exercise with a light weight which you gradually increase up to your work sets. This will allow you to rehearse the movements and work the specific ranges of movement for that exercise.
4. Have a plan and keep a written log of each session. This goes along with Point 1 set yourself short, medium and long term goals that are SMARTER. Use these to write a plan that progresses towards these goals and keep a log book of your training so that you can plan your session (rather than trying to remember what you did last time) and review what went well and what was not so good.
Lift more weight for the same number of sets and reps or same weight for more sets and reps is a very easy way to make sure you are progressing rather than just going through the motions in the gym. It sounds simplistic and obvious but it is amazing how many people do exactly the same session week to week yet wonder why they are not making progress! Read the 3 to 5 rule for more on planning sessions.
5. 60 minutes or less. If you are training for 2 hours it is a fair assumption you are wasting a great deal of that time. Your stores of energy and hormones such as testosterone are optimal up to 60 minutes after which they deplete so that your training becomes far less effective.
10 minutes to warm up and 50 minutes to train is more than enough time. 3 to 5 exercises for 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 reps with a few minutes rest between sets will take at the very longest 10 minutes per exercise so you can see that this is easily achievable.
When you go to the gym to train do just that. Leave your phone in the locker, limit talk to your training partner to give them cues, encouragement or ask what weight they need and focus your energy on the exercises. Everything else can wait till after.