The Secrets to Boosting Performance in the Gym


The Secrets to Boosting Performance in the Gym

Third Space’s top trainers reveal the tips and tricks that can help you achieve your performance goals


Here we want to provide a peek behind the curtain of the kind of advice you can expect from a personal training session at Third Space. For the beginner starting out on their own fitness journey, random workouts reward you with random results – it’s expert guidance that guarantees progress. And you never know, even the gym experts amongst you may learn a thing or two over the course of this series.

Performance is a tough term to pin down, but all it really means is to get the absolute maximum out of your session. Whether your aim is to build strength, burn fat or just go really, really fast, focussing on improving performance in the gym will help you to reach your goals more quickly.

Split between activation, training, nutrition and recovery, Third Space PTs James Ralph, Tom Hall and Callum Melly reveal their simple yet effective tips to make sure your first steps to elite performance are in the right direction.



Only stretch what needs stretching before a workout. If it’s tight and restricts movement for the upcoming session, then stretch, mobilise and activate that muscle. If it doesn’t, don’t! Stretching inhibits a muscle, so excessive stretching actually acutely decreases force output. Also, if you stretch and don’t strengthen these new ranges, you put yourself at risk of injury. – James Ralph

Before you go to train your big lifts (deadlift, squat or bench press) think about the movement and perform some super quick, explosive movements that mimic your main set. For example, six quick reps of broad jumps before your deadlift.

This is called pre-activation potentiation, which sets up your muscles and your tendons to fire as quickly and responsively to your main exercise. Try squat jumps for squats, speed press ups for bench press and high skips for running. Give it a go with 5-10 seconds of effort, take 30seconds rest and repeat – Tom Hall

Fascial release via foam rolling is a great way to prepare the muscles for exercise and aid recovery; by eliciting pressure on the muscle and fascia (connective tissue that encloses the muscle) through what is essentially self-massage, you can increase blood flow to the muscle, thus improving oxygen and nutrient delivery to support performance in your workout. – Callum Melly


Working out

What’s the worst thing about a heavy set of deadlifts? Putting the weights back, obviously. Try propping one side up with a small 2.5k plate on the inside plate so you can easily slide the plates off. With the other side, pick up the empty side of the bar and slide it out from the other side to leave a neatly stacked pile of plates to put back –JR

Back off sets make sure your performance keeps improving week to week by managing fatigue. Of course, your muscles start to tire after two sets of an exercise. However, instead of dropping the reps from 10 to 8 (or failing) drop the weight a couple of KGs. This will allow you to finish the set and actually lift more over the course of a workout. For example…

10 reps of 100kg = 1000kg Lifted

8 reps of 100kg = 800 kg lifted


10 reps 0f 95kg = 950kg lifted


Lifting lighter is the better option, it puts your muscles under greater stress overall, which is what will improve your performance more quickly over time. – TH



Recent research by Brad Schoenfeld has forced us to rethink the way we take supplements around workouts, comparing post-workout and pre-workout shakes, which means taking on your 25+ grams of protein 15 mins before your workout compared to after. The results were surprising, finding that there was greater performance and hypertrophy benefits from pre-workout protein. Maybe keep this one to heavy weights rather than HIIT because it’ll be tough to stomach on the treadmill! –TH



When training in the gym, we are looking to impart stress upon the body to force it to adapt. With constant stress, the body requires periods of recovery or the only adaptations that occur will be detrimental to performance. The body physically requires this time to regenerate cells and repair the body from stress we cause it. It has been shown that less than 6 hours sleep per night reduced risk of injury, coupled with a reduction of up to 300% in reaction time. If weekday schedules make this difficult, a weekend lie-in will at least make Mondays more succesul – JR

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