When it comes to the fitness lifestyle, the time we spend working out tends to be the main point of focus and gets the majority of the credit, but it shouldn’t.
Yes, if you want to burn fat or build muscle, working out is a crucial part. Everyone wants to have a great workout, that’s a given. All too often though, there is a huge emphasis on the one hour you are actually working out and an underemphasis on the other 23 hours a day and what will help you have a great workout.
Most gym goers routine goes something like this … find a time you are going to train, take some sort of pre-workout powder 30 minutes before and go workout… that’s about all of the planned preparation they invest into “improving” their workouts. It’s not 100% wrong, but it’s not nearly as beneficial as it could be. There is an understanding that pre-workout can help with performance in the gym, but what if we extend that window out a bit…. meaning not just looking at the last 30 minutes before you train and relying solely on a supplement to “get you through” your workout.
When it comes to “Pre-Workout”… Things like fueling properly, smart pre- and post-workout routines, and quality sleep matter too. If you’re looking to improve your workouts, reach your goals more quickly, and crush it in every single workout… Here are the 6 habits that should definitely be a part of your fitness routine if you want to maximize your results.
1) QUALITY SLEEP
Unfortunately, sleep is an afterthought in most people’s fitness routine, because they are too consumed with how much they can get done in the day, instead of focusing on reaping the HUGE benefits from getting QUALITY sleep. It’s not even about logging more hours, it’s about truly resting, allowing your body to reach deep and restful REM sleep.
Being well rested helps with performance in the gym as well as proper hormone production to ensure proper recovery, while also keeping your hunger hormones in check. This makes it easier to push harder in the gym and stick to your nutrition plan … which ultimately will help you burn more fat and/or build more muscle, depending on your goals.
There is no hard and fast rule on how much water you should consume leading into a workout because there are too many variables like age, gender, weight, height, workout style, intensity or workout, etc … but as a rough guideline you should be shooting for 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight in a 24 hour time period. Ideally with 20 oz of that coming in the hour or two leading into your workout.
Do NOT chug 20 ounces right before you go train as this can cause some stomach discomfort but instead, you should be sipping water leading into your training. Being well hydrated will help with proper muscle function, mental clarity, fight off fatigue, and prevent muscle cramps!
3) FUEL PROPERLY
Many people overlook the importance of fueling going into your workout. When you don’t fuel properly going into a workout there are two main negative consequences you will have to live with. One, your gas tank is about empty. That means that since you don’t have food in your system to be used as fuel, your body will quickly burning through your glycogen stores (glucose stored in the muscles for energy). When these are depleted, your body will then turn to your muscles, and burn up your hard earned muscle for energy.
If your goal is to build muscle, this loss of muscle means that you are taking steps backward. If your goal is to burn fat, you will have a harder time to reach your goals and keep it off since your muscle tissue is a huge calorie burner in the day. So, if you lose muscle, you burn fewer calories each and every day.
The second negative consequence is that you when you are running on fumes in the gym, your intensity and strength is decreased. You will feel sluggish, your performance will suffer, and therefore you are not getting in as great of a workout. Therefore you want to make sure that 1 to 2 hours before your workout, you have a meal containing at least 20 grams of protein and good complex carbohydrates. These two together will give your body the nutrients it needs to perform it’s best!
4) PRE-WORKOUT SUPPLEMENTATION
This step takes place 15 to 30 minutes before you are going to begin your warm-up for your workout. The purpose of pre-workout supplements is to help you prime your body for better performance in the gym.
Ingredients such as Creatine and Beta Alanine will increase your endurance in the gym. Allowing you to train at a higher intensity for longer, while fighting off fatigue.
Caffeine and stimulants are very popular in pre-workouts to help increase mental energy, cognitive function, and focus! Helping you to get “dialed in” to be efficient and effective with your gym time. Because let’s be honest … when we are “full of energy” it makes it a lot easier to do things that we might not otherwise want to do like workout after or before a long day. By not only not missing workouts, but also having the drive to train harder you will earn better results.
Other popular pre-workout ingredients are amino acids (BCAAs or Essential Amino Acids), rapid assimilating protein powders like a hydrolyzed whey isolate, and quick digesting carbohydrates. These are great to add in for those times when you weren’t able to have your pre-workout meal. This way your body has a quick digesting fuel source that will give you the same benefits as a whole food meal, just closer to your workout without upsetting your stomach.
5) REVIEW YOUR WORKOUT
We’ve all heard it before… Failing to Prepare is preparing to fail. Having a plan of attack for when you walk through the door is a great way to remove the guesswork and can help make your workout more efficient.
6) YOUR WARM-UP ROUTINE
There are two major parts to a proper warm up, Aerobic and Dynamic. All too often fitness enthusiast will do one or the other, but not both. An example of Aerobic would be riding the bike for 5 to 10 minutes before training. Or an example of dynamic would be doing a few walking lunges, some butt kicks, a handful of push-ups and then just jumping right into the workout.
It is best to first start with an Aerobic workout to raise your body temperature, increase blood flow, and get a good little sweat going. I would recommend spending 5 minutes or so working at a low-to-moderate level on a treadmill, rower, or bike. This will help prevent injuries and allow your muscles to work properly during your training session.
After that, time for a dynamic warm up. This simply means warming up through movement. Now that our body and joints are warm, we should be able to move more easily and we want to start working on a full range of motion with lightweight or body weight movements. By executing a full range of motion through compound movementslike air squats, push ups, pull ups, etc you are making sure your shoulders, hips, knees, and joints are ready to train!