An effective pre-workout routine begins long before you pull on your stringer vest and grab your protein shaker cup from the side of the kitchen sink, and if you get this part of your day correct, you will not only have an extremely effective and productive workout, you will also see much more noticeable gains in a much shorter space of time. Just like everything else in life, poor prepping and planning will lead to poor performance. You know what they say, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” and they’re absolutely right, whoever they are. The last thing you want is to walk into a gym, starved of energy and motivation and to just simply have to go through the motions, counting down the minutes until you get to go home, vegetate in front of the TV, and go to bed. Instead you want to be hitting the gym with energy and motivation spewing from every orifice of your body (not literally of course as that would be pretty gross). You want to have energy, you want motivation, and you want as many of your workouts to be as productive and as effective as they can possibly be. In order to ensure that that is indeed the case for you, take a look at these pre-workout necessities and try to incorporate them into your pre-workout routine before your next training session.
Eat to fuel your body
It doesn’t matter whether you train early in a morning, mid-afternoon, in the evening, or whenever your schedule permits you to, the one thing you must remember is that in order to help guarantee an effective workout, you will need to eat around 60 – 90 minutes before you’re due to hit the gym. Your meal should consist of a clean form of slow to moderate digesting carbohydrates, such as brown or white rice, sweet or white potatoes, pasta, or wholemeal bread. If you consume them too close to when you workout, your body won’t actually have had chance to digest and break them down when you begin training, which means that whilst you’re trying to work out, your body will be busy trying to digest the remainder of your meal. As well as the carbs you should include a clean protein source as protein is a vital building block for brand new muscle growth. Opt for chicken, egg whites, turkey, or other lean sources of protein as you don’t want to be combining fats with carbohydrates. If you’re struggling for time, a protein shake and some fruit such as a banana will also work fine.
Another reason why you want to be eating around 60-90 minutes before you workout is to ensure that by the time it comes to taking your pre-workout supplement, that your stomach is largely empty as this will help guarantee a more rapid rate of absorption. Pre-workout supplements are ideal as they contain caffeine and other potent stimulants that wake you up, energize you, and make you feel more alert. They also contain amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other energy creating compounds. Many of them are also rich in Nitric Oxide, which as it is a vasodilator, dilates the blood vessels, allows more blood to be transported through them, thus allowing more oxygen, nutrients, and energy to be carried to the cells within the muscles. This also increases vascularity and muscle pumps. Be wary of using pre-workout supplements too late, as they can keep you awake at night due to the stims they contain.
Many of us forget to drink water before we work out, and instead opt to drink water as we work out. However, studies have revealed that optimally we should consume around 20 ounces of water before we work out, to help hydrate our muscles. Of course, how much water exactly we require will all come down to certain variables such as gender, age, size, height, and weight etc, but 20 ounces is the general rule of thumb. However, the last thing you should do is down 20 ounces of water the second you step foot in the gym, as this can lead to muscle cramps, not to mention making life extremely uncomfortable, especially if you’re having to go and pee every 5 minutes. Instead, sip water a couple of hours before you’re due to work out. Studies have shown time and time again, that properly hydrated athletes perform far better than those lacking proper hydration.
Know what you’re doing before you step foot in the gym
Another important aspect of any pre-workout ritual is actually knowing exactly what it is that you’re doing on that particular day, before you even step foot in the gym. That means that you don’t simply just head to the gym and see what you feel like doing when you get there, instead, you have the exact workout that you’re going to be performing, either written down in writing in a training journal, or at the very least memorised in your head. Not only does this help you to mentally prepare, it also helps speed things up as you know exactly which exercises to perform, which weights and equipment to grab, and which machines to use. Of course, some machines or equipment may be taken up, but if that’s the case, simply jump ahead with the next exercise, or politely ask how long the individual(s) are going to be, and wait for them to finish up.
Stretching and warming up is another crucial part of any pre-workout routine yet many people just don’t seem to do it, which is one of the reasons why they pick up so many injuries. Set aside 5-10 minutes, perform some basic stretches, and get your blood pumping by doing 5 minutes on the rowing machine or exercise bike. It may seem tedious to some of you, but setting aside a few minutes to properly stretch your muscles, get your blood flowing, and increase your core body temperature will not only help protect you from injury, it will also make your workouts more comfortable and more effective as well.