The IMPORTANCE of Optimizing Your Workout and Day with ROUTINES!
As human beings, we are truly creatures of habit. Knowing a routine, or having expectations about how something will go, can put us at ease. For optimal physical performance, routines are very important, and any competitor will agree. A routine might look like anything from eating a certain meal to prime the body for activity, or listening to a specific song before a competition. When I used to run track, I had a specific pre-300hurdles race routine. Just before I would settle into my starting position, I would do a series of jumps in place. It was a way for me to get in my zone and feel the power and flexibility in my legs. It was also a signal to my body that it was about to perform. I could feel my adrenaline start to run as I performed that routine, and my body was always prepared for the race to come. To me, it was a way to secure my own mental edge for the race, and once I had perfected my pre-race routine, I always used it.
When I go to the gym, I have routines for a lot of exercises that I do. For example, often when I perform barbell squats, I like to breathe deeply, listen to a relatively chill song, and enter a very calm state, as this calmness allows me to focus on how I’m lifting the weight. Alternatively, when I do dumbbell chest press, I like to stomp my feet into the floor and hype myself up. I do these routines every time I do these exercises, regardless of the amount of weight that I might be lifting. It’s not necessary to have a different routine for every exercise, but having a specific and consistent way to get into your zone is important.
It’s also important to note that these effective routines aren’t just for physical activity. Maybe you like to drink a cup of tea in order to relax and focus before writing a paper, or you like to wake up and stretch in order to release stress in the morning. Whatever it may be for you, it’s important to develop routines that allow you to optimize your mental and physical performance throughout the day. Whenever I don’t adhere to my routines, I notice the difference in my mental and physical performance. Additionally, routines don’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s better that they’re simple, as it allows you to remember them. Eventually, they become habitual.
A few examples of my own personal routines are:
- Drink a full bottle of water after I wake up (I leave a bottle next to my bed and drink it before I stand up out of bed in the morning)
- Listen to a podcast while I make breakfast
- Perform specific warm-ups depending on if I’m exercising my lower body or my upper body
So, how do you go about establishing new routines?
1. Experiment. Figure out what you want to achieve out of a routine. If you want to lift more effectively in the gym, maybe you create a warm up or a way to lock in mentally before you exercise. If you want to be more alert during the day, maybe you make it a point to stay hydrated or eat a high energy food in the morning. Regardless of what it is, you’ll need to figure out what works for you.
2. Decide and create cues. Decide on what routines you want to implement, then create cues to remind yourself to do them. To make sure I drink my water in the morning, I leave my bottle next to my bed. Create ways to make yourself remember your routines, and it will be easier to repeat them.
3. Repeat. Routines become habit the more we do them, so keep it up and they’ll eventually feel natural!
Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you’re having trouble determining good routines to implement! Also, share routines with your friends and ask them what theirs are! Routines you implement should be your own routines that work for you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the same routines as other people. Lastly, remember that the point of these routines is to optimize your physical and mental functioning throughout the day, not to add more stress and clutter. Good luck creating your own routines!
-Malik Jones, Certified Personal Trainer