You spend hours at the gym every week, but can you truly be certain that you’re really getting the best results from the work you’re putting in? Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your strength training sessions:

Track your progress — How can you know if you’re making progress if you don’t write it down? Keep a fitness journal, and write down your workouts every day. It will help you to see how much weight you add every month or so, and you’ll be able to push yourself harder to keep making progress.

Plan it — Don’t just go to the gym and work out casually. Talk with a trainer, get help developing a workout plan, and stick with that plan. Make sure to change things up regularly, but follow your workout plan to ensure you get the most from your workouts.

Hit it and quit it — Go to the gym to work hard, spend as little time resting as possible, and get through your workout quickly. Don’t waste time when at the gym–it’s not a place to hang out.

Avoid isolation exercises — Isolation exercises do focus on specific muscles, but they’re not going to give you the same visible results as multi-joint movements. Focus on movements like Shoulder Presses, Bench Presses, Deadlifts, Squats, Chin Ups, Curls, and Rows, as they work multiple muscles at once–meaning maximum results!

Rest properly — Those who do higher-rep sets should take no more than 60 minutes of rest between each set, while those working lower-rep sets should rest for longer. It gives your muscles time to replenish used up energy.

Watch your speed — The tempo of your workout can help to increase its difficulty, improving the results you get. Don’t rush through each exercise, but follow a tempo that will help you to push your body harder. Ask your trainer for the ideal tempo for each exercise, according to your long-term goals.

Go full body — Resist the urge to focus on certain muscles more than others. If you do, you’ll end up look imbalanced and your body will begin to develop problems as well. Training your entire body equally reduces your risk of injuries, and ensures maximum muscle development.

Train for function as well as form — If you spend all of your time lifting heavy weights, you’ll have a lot of raw power but very little functional strength. Mix bodyweight exercises into your workouts, as that will force you to build strength according to your current weight. Functional strength is just as important as good-looking muscles!

Warm up and cool down — If you neglect your warm-ups and cool-downs, you’re going to injure yourself. Take 5 to 10 minutes on the treadmill before working out, and throw in some stretches to warm up the muscles. After your workout, hit the cardio hard and finish with a nice cool-down.

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