There is always a lot of confusion over how to do a proper workout so I will try to explain what I think is important. There are five parts to your workout; the warm-up, stretching, workout, cool down, and post workout meal.
Warmup and Stretching
First when you walk into the gym or basement it is always important to warm up and then stretch. If you think about how you are doing a workout and what kind of stress you are putting on your muscles then you have to be aware of how if they are not warm they can stretch or rip¦this is not a good thing.
To do a proper warm up you should probably use all of your muscle groups. Do not warm-up by doing hard cardio for a half hour as this will tire you out for your workout.
For a warm-up the best machine I have found is an elliptical trainer. An elliptical trainer will allow you to use all of your muscles, is low impact and forces you to focus a little on your balance so you can get focused on what the workout will bring.
Only do your muscle warm-up for about 5 to 10 minutes and not at a high intensity but rather medium intensity so you only break a little sweat and get your muscles warm.
Next get water and do some stretching. I am in favor of stretching all of my muscles before a workout not just the muscles that I will be training that day. Find some good stretches and spend another 5 to 10 minutes stretching and focusing on your breathing, you want to be sure to have good oxygen in your system during your workout so that you always feel that you energy is up.
Doing Your Sets
Next get a drink again and the start your workout. I will not delve into the sets and reps as that can be covered better by itself. During your workout though make sure that you are waiting one to two minutes between sets and taking in water whenever necessary.
Your lifting portion of your workout should take about 40-60 minutes. To short a workout and you will not have time to really hit your muscles hard enough but at the other extreme if you workout too long you will have to little energy at the end of your workout and you also risk not being able to recover between workouts.
After you finish your workout it is a good idea to stretch again as stretching will allow the muscles to stop cramping, increase blood flow throughout the muscle and relax you before you get back into the car.
In the past I found that if I did not stretch after my workout then my arms would be shaking when I got behind the wheel of the car to go home (not much better when I got on a bike instead).
Rest And Recovery Happen Later
It is important to remember that you do not make your gains in the gym; you make strength and mass gains while your body recovers with proper rest and exercise. One of the critical things that you can do diet wise after your workout is to take in lots of carbohydrates to replenish the energy lost during the workout.
Some people take Creatine or a Gatorade/sugar drink which can be expensive but if you are trying to replenish your carbs the best thing to take is some sugar in water. Kool aid would be good if you could drink enough but a potato or rice are not good as they will take to long for your body to be able to use the sugar.
About an hour after your workout you can take in some protein, some people try to get in the protein even earlier with some people trying to get in a double sized meal within an hour of the end of the workout.
I on the other hand usually can not stomach a large heavy meal that quickly after a workout and am not rich enough to take in a $5 energy drink after every workout.
Follow these simple workouts and you will get better results, have better workouts, recover better, and have a better, healthier time in the gym.