Three ways to level up your next strength training workout (bonus workout included)

This post is sponsored by Collectively on behalf of Biochem.

Oh hey friends! It’s all about fitness today. And I’m sharing some strength-training tips that you can take back to your own workouts, whether you work out at home, at the gym or go exclusively to group fitness classes, and there’s a strength circuit workout in here too, if you need some gym inspiration.

Three ways to level up your next strength training workout

Three ways to level up your next strength training workout by A Lady Goes West

1. Foam roll and do dynamic warm-ups before you begin your strength training. 

If you prepare your body more thoroughly for your next strength workout, you’ll actually get more out of it, and you’ll lessen your chance of getting injured. Here’s why …

Did you know that you can increase your range of motion in many workout moves by foam rolling before your workout? You can. I always foam roll before my strength training workouts. You want to roll your quads, glutes, calves, upper back and IT bands for about 30 seconds per section with decent speed on the roller, in order to get the blood flowing to those areas and loosen up any knots. (By the way, after your workout, you want to slow down your rolling and spend more time in each area to truly release any adhesions in your connective tissue that occurred from exercise, but before, you can move a little quicker.)

Once you foam roll, it’s time to get your body ready to work with some dynamic warm-ups. Dynamic warm-ups mean essentially, “moving warm-ups” and they are designed to prepare your body for the workout you plan to do that day. If you are planning to do squats and lunges with weight, then a dynamic warm-up for you could include leg kicks, leg swings, bodyweight squats and bodyweight lunges. This will help you to get better mobility and let your body know what will be worked, so it can properly fire the correct muscles.

Before any lifting workout, I also do arm circles, leg kicks and lots of hip openers, including a moving yogi squat and the frogger, because once my hips are more loose, I know I’ll get deeper into my squats.

I would highly recommend spending time rolling and doing your own dynamic warm-up before group fitness classes as well. Even though I’m a huge fan of group fitness, I do think that it’s your responsibility to prepare a bit ahead of time before class starts to get the most out of the workout.

Foam rolling with Biochem by A Lady Goes West - May 2019

2. Perform strength training work before cardio.

Do you like to hit the treadmill for 20 to 30 minutes for a run before you do weights? You’re not alone. Or, better yet, do you always start with the cardio portion when you go to a class like Barry’s or Orangetheory? 

Here’s why you should consider switching it up. As long as you have properly warmed yourself up before your workout (that often means doing your foam rolling and dynamic warm-ups on your own before you head into a group fitness class, as mentioned above), you will have more energy to put into your strength work, rather than doing it as an afterthought once you’ve tired yourself out with cardio. Other than getting ready to move, try hitting up strength first, and see how that feels for you. 

3. Recover properly with a full rest day after-the-fact for the muscles you work.

It’s very hard for us to understand that the real growth from a strength workout happens after the workout has taken place. I know. Like what? But it’s true. Basically, when you are lifting weights and feeling fatigue and burn, your muscles are getting damaged with tiny tears. Then, once the workout is done, those muscles repair themselves and get stronger. That rebuilding phase happens within approximately 48 hours, so that’s why it’s not recommended to work the same muscle groups two days in a row. Instead, you can take a rest day, do cardio or light yoga or work different muscle groups (which is sometimes called a split routine, focusing on legs one day, chest one day, back one day, etc.).

Once the 48-hour window is complete (it can be longer in some people and also longer in those who are newer to lifting weights), you are safe to work the same muscle group again. In fact, keeping a regular cadence of lifting weights every 2 to 3 days is ideal, rather than waiting too long in between.

When you let your body recover, you also want to refuel. Lots of water, a protein shake (I’ve been loving Biochem’s whey protein lately, and I’m telling you more about it below) and a meal featuring healthy carbs and protein within a few hours after your workout is recommended. But of course, you’ll want to talk to a registered dietitian to figure out exactly what’s best for your body.

When in doubt, recover, and you’ll be stronger for your next workout and be able to lift more weights, do more reps and truly level up your strength and fitness.

How to level up your strength workouts with Biochem by A Lady Goes West - May 2019

Other ways to improve your strength workouts

  • Focus on multi-joint movements rather than single joint (a deadrow instead of a bicep curl)
  • Accent the eccentric (lengthening) movement, and slow down your repetitions
  • If you usually use barbells, try dumbbells, and vice versa — change things up
  • Use dropsets by switching out your heavy weight for something lighter once you start to fatigue and continuing to work until you can’t perform another repetition with proper form
  • Film yourself performing basic exercise moves and work on perfecting your form
  • Practice proper breathing, exhaling during the most strenuous part of a repetition

Quick full-body dumbbell strength workout

One of my favorite ways to work out is doing a short dumbbell circuit, with minimal rest. This one will work both the upper and lower body, and you’ll even get your heart-rate up too. You’ll want a medium set of dumbbells and a lighter set.

*I highly recommend working with a personal trainer or group fitness instructor to help you with your exercise form and muscle activation. But if you’re ready to try this one out, do so at your own risk. Have fun!

Quick full-body dumbbell strength workout by A Lady Goes West

All about protein powder

How I recover and supplement with protein powder

Refueling and recovery is so important, just like we mentioned above in tip numero tres. And for the last few weeks, I’ve been supplementing after my strength training workouts with Biochem 100% Whey Isolate Protein Chocolate. I mix two scoops with some water, freeze it for like an hour, then bring the shaker with me to the gym, so I can drink it in the car after my workout (by that time it’s usually defrosted perfectly). I drink protein shakes maybe three times a week, within 15 minutes after finishing a strength workout (like the one shown above). I don’t drink them after cardio or barre classes, simply because I don’t feel the need, and I typically have a meal shortly after those workouts too.

How to level up your next strength workouts with Biochem by A Lady Goes West - May 2019

I used to use whey protein, but over the last couple of years, I started using mostly plant-based protein powder — for no real reason other than that’s what I always purchased. I have to admit, I was eager to switch back to a cleaner whey protein, and so far I’m totally a fan of how it’s working out. Whey protein is easily digested and goes quickly to your muscles after your strength workouts to help with rebuilding and recovery, and I feel good right now from my Biochem post-workout shakes. More on the specifics of the product below.

Three ways to level up your next strength workout with Biochem by A Lady Goes West - May 2019

Biochem 100% Whey Isolate Protein Chocolate 

All protein powder is not created equal — at all! Whey protein isolate is actually the most pure form of whey protein (as opposed to whey protein concentrate, which you often find in stores), and with isolate, much of the carbs and fat are removed in the processing. That way, you are getting more protein and less additional macros when you consume it.

Ways to level up your next strength workout with Biochem by A Lady Goes West - May 2019

Biochem has been around for more than 15 years as one of the top whey protein powder brands, and that’s because they use quality ingredients. Here’s a look at some of the descriptors of the 100% whey protein chocolate that I’ve been using lately:

  • No artificial flavors
  • No artificial hormones
  • No soy
  • 99 percent lactose free
  • Certified gluten free
  • Protein from grass-fed cows
  • Made and produced in the USA
  • Contains all 9 essential amino acids, as well as 3 BCAAs
  • 2 scoops of Biochem chocolate whey protein isolate has 20 grams of protein and 120 calories of tasty chocolate deliciousness

What I like about the taste is that it’s not too sweet or too chocolatey — it’s just right — definitely a treat after my tougher strength training workouts! By the way, you can find Biochem on the brand’s website, on Amazon or even at Whole Foods.

Ways to level up your strength workouts with Biochem by A Lady Goes West - May 2019

Thank you for stopping by the blog to read today, my friends. Happy strength training to you!

Disclaimer: I received compensation and product from Collectively on behalf of Biochem. However, all words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting our sponsors! 

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Have a fabulous day!

Questions of the day

How often do you do strength training?

What’s your favorite way to work out?

How was your weekend?

Are you a chocolate or vanilla fan?

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6 Comments

  1. I try to strength train (as in go to group fitness) either 2 or 3 times a week. However, I do some physical therapy/ankle strengthening exercises every few days just to make sure I’m targeting my weaknesses. I do like to get to class early and stretch and foam roll. My hips and shoulders are usually very tight so depending on the WOD, I’ll work on getting those joins warm and loosened up!

    I would have to say I’m a chocolate fan 100%!

    1. Hi Virjinia! Chocolate fan always! I’m SO glad to hear that you are strength training regularly and taking your physical therapy seriously — we all have things we need to work on outside of classes, so props to you! Have a fab day! 🙂

  2. Totally agree that it’s a good practice to do something on your own to prepare for group fitness classes. Your instructor doesn’t necessarily know what muscle groups might be tight or sore from a previous workout! Even in my own classes, I love to see when my participants are already stretching whatever they need to before class starts.

    I used to be a strict vanilla protein girl but have recently been feeling chocolate!

    1. Hi Dominique — yes, I agree — I love to see people getting ready before the classes I teach too. 🙂 I also used to go for vanilla, but I’m all about chocolate now!

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