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.
For most people, their pre-workout routine goes something like this … find a time you are going to workout, take some sort of pre-workout powder 30 minutes before and then workout. That’s about all of the planned preparation they invest into “improving” their workouts.
It’s not 100% wrong, and I certainly take pre-workout supplements myself, but as far as really setting your body up for a great workout, it’s not nearly as beneficial as it could be.
See, there is a common understanding that taking pre-workout supplements 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 to help with performance and simply relying solely on a supplement to “get you through” your workout... but looking more at the rest of the day or time leading up to your workout.
And that's why we put this blog together. To provide information on things other than pre-workout supplements that will help improve your workouts!
So, if you’re looking to improve your workouts, reach your goals more quickly, and simply set yourself up to crush your workout, here are 6 habits that you can add to 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're 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 during your workouts 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 while training and easier to stick to your nutrition plan, which as you know, consistently sticking to your plan is key to your success.
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 of the workout, etc. But as a rough guideline, shooting for a 100 oz or more a day is a good start.
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 is not beneficial for your results. If your goal is to burn fat, it's also not beneficial 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 when you are running on fumes while trying to workout, 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 I good habit to get into is trying to eat about 1 to 2 hours before your workout. In that meal, I would recommend having a complete protein source and some complex carbohydrates.
These two together will give your body nutrients it needs for fuel and help you perform your best!
If you train first thing in the morning and don't have time to eat that far in advance or you just like training on an empty stomach, it's certainly not the end of the world. Utilizing the other tips will still help improve your workouts!
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 can increase your endurance in the gym. Allowing you to train at a higher intensity for longer, while fighting off fatigue. By doing this you can push your body further, burn more calories, and when you recover properly, earn better results!
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're “full of energy,” it makes it a lot easier to do things that we might not otherwise want to do like a workout after a long day, or early before work.
Other popular pre-workout ingredients are 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 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're going to workout is a great way to remove the guesswork and can help make your workout more efficient. The plan can and will be different for most people. Some prefer to do pen and paper, others might have their favorite workout app pulled up on their phone, while others follow the lead of their personal trainer or instructor on a virtual training platform.
No matter what though, making sure to review your workout plan before you start warming up will help you stay on track and use your time more effectively!
6) YOUR WARM-UP ROUTINE
There are two major parts to a proper warm-up, Aerobic and Dynamic.
All too often, and I'm guilty of this too, we head into the gym, basement, garage, or living room and just kind of jump right into the workout it without properly warming up.
Or, if we do a warm-up, we 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.
I have found that 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, bike, jump rope, jumping jacks, go for a run, etc. This will help prevent injuries and allow your muscles to work properly during your training session.
After that, it's 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 bodyweight movements.
By executing a full range of motion through compound movements like air squats, push-ups, pull-ups, etc you are making sure your shoulders, hips, knees, and joints are ready to train!
WHAT TO DO NOW?
Now that you know these six steps for a great workout every time you go to the gym, it’s time to put them into action. By following these simple steps, drinking a proper post-workout shake, and keeping your nutrition plan in check you'll improve your workouts!
Start implementing these six steps right NOW to start earning better results.