8 Tips to Maximize Progress & Results in the Gym

8 tips to maximize progress and results in the gym

The basics aren’t sexy. They don’t sell well. But they really DO work well. You’ll see a massive ROI on your time and energy spent in the gym if you doubled down on the things highlighted in this post – pinky promise (:


#1: Sleep

“Want to lose muscle and gain fat? That’s easy, don’t sleep!” – Robb Wolf

Regularly not getting enough zzz’s at night may:

  • increase food cravings
  • slow recovery from workouts
  • compromise your ability to easily gain muscle or lose fat


Prioritize sleep as much as possible. A great goal would be to try and get no less than 7 hours of sleep at night. If you’re running on 5-6 hours of sleep or less, consider skipping your workout and just doubling down on good nutrition, steps, and getting to bed early tonight so you can catch up on sleep.

New parent or parent of multiple kiddos? Just do your best and use your best judgement. Sleep might not be something you get more of until the kids are older, and that’s okay. Decide when to push through vs when to pullback and rest, based on how you feel.


#2: Lots of Protein

Whether you want to gain muscle, lose fat, hit new PR’s, or just look your best — getting enough protein is key!

Current protein recommendations: ~0.8 – 1.0 g protein per pound bodyweight

Example: 150 lb individual = ~105-150 grams protein

Leaner? Try to aim closer to bodyweight. Higher body fat? Feel free to aim closer to ~0.7-0.8 x bodyweight

Protein Ideas: eggs, egg whites, bison, ground beef, steak, chicken thighs, tofu, salmon, shrimp, greek yogurt

Not tracking your food?

  • BIG serving of protein at meals and snacks
  • Tip: if you had ~4 oz meat at breakfast, lunch, dinner, that’s ~100g protein (:


#3: Enough Carbs & Calories

Being well-fed and well-recovered leads to bomb workouts, happy hormones, muscle gain, lift PR’s, and better harmony with food, exercise, and your body.

And here’s the deal: 1200-1600 calories likely won’t cut it for those who love working out, lifting, and being active!

Just like a bank account or ATM, we want to be making DEPOSITS (eating at maintenance or in a surplus) more than we are make WITHDRAWALS (dieting and eating lower calorie).

Constant dieting can lead to: negative changes to your metabolism, hormones, thyroid, menstrual cycle…


#4: Eating Regularly & High Quality Foods

Snickers was spot-on when they created that “you’re not YOU when you’re hungry” series. Nothing sucks more than trying to workout or lift heavy when you’re running on fumes. Eatttt.


Could you:

  • set alarms to remind you to eat
  • get in a bigggg breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • have morning and afternoon snacks that are high in protein
  • prioritize mostly real whole foods
  • eat less fast food, candy, and drink less soda 
  • eat a fruit and veggie at most meals
  • get in lots of high-fiber foods


*ps: coffee is not a meal. Neither are protein bars.


#5: Balanced Meals

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be stressful or time consuming. Keep it simple, let it be easy!

At the majority of your meals, aim for a protein, carb, fat, fruit, and veggie. And don’t forget to eat lots of high fiber foods throughout the day to help with digestion and to keep you feeling full.

High Fiber Food Ideas: fruit, berries, veggies, oats, whole grains, lentils, beans, chickpeas, sweet potato

Well-Rounded Meal Examples:

  • chicken thighs, rice, avocado, broccoli, berries
  • steak, potatoes, olive oil, salad, blueberries
  • eggs, bacon, sweet potatoes, kale, banana
#6: Hydration & Booze:

Try to aim for your bodyweight (lbs) divided by 2 in ounces of fluids. Meaning a 130 lb person would get 65-80 oz per day. Add an extra 10-15 oz for every hours of exercise or heavy sweating. If you’re super active, consider adding electrolytes to your water. And if you cook mostly from scratch, make sure to salt your food!

Alcohol can be fun, but keep in mind it can cause negative changes to metabolism, hormone levels, mood, sleep, etc over time. If focusing on fat loss and improving body composition, it might be helpful to minimize alcohol a little more during those seasons of life.


#7: Steps & NEAT

Regular movement supports better digestion, heart and mental health, faster recovery from workouts, and makes it easier to maintain or change your bodyweight.

According to the latest research, a great minimum step goal is 8000 steps per day. You can track your steps via your smartphone or a wearable watch like Garmin, Apple, FitBit, etc.

Tips for Getting More Steps:

  • get up every hour to walk around for a few minutes
  • take a 10 min walk after each meal
  • walk around the gym between your lift sets (*I average 3k steps per 60-min workout!)
  • park farther away when “out and about”
  • walk around when taking phone calls or scrolling social media
  • Tiny under-desk treadmills are AMAZING if you’re at a computer most of the day


#8: Do Less, Better. Rest Days = Best Days

Recovery = the secret sauceee to easily gaining muscle, losing body fat, improving body comp, etc. Your body may struggle to change how you want it to, if it doesn’t get enough down time to actually recover and do so.

Great goal: get 1-2 rest days of the gym per week

Good programming (like ours at Paragon Training Methods) will maximize your ROI on time and energy in the gym. Doing “more” isn’t always better. And you can only adapt what you can recover from.

Extra lifting, extra workouts on top of your program, extra cardio, etc may just increase hunger, squash your recovery, and make it take longer to get where you’re trying to go. Follow a good workout program, and then TRUST the process and stick to that program.


Where To Go From Here

You can always check out my e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Nutrition, Muscle Gain, & Fat Loss if you want to get more details about supporting your nutrition and fitness goals (:

And we’re always posting workout and nutrition tips on our Paragon Training Methods Instagram page. Follow along for free workouts and more tips to help you look and feel your best!

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