Working out is great and is an optimal opportunity to relieve some stress and do right by your body, but there should be a few things you consider before you lift your first weight or place a foot on a treadmill. Key practices should become habits in order to get the most out of your workout and avoid injury. Here a few of the most important ones to get you primed and ready.
Like a good car needs oil to run smoothly and to the best of its ability, your body needs water. Water shouldn’t just be something you think about right before or during your workout, but the days leading up to it as well. It’s important to have enough hydration in your system well before a workout to ensure your internal organs are properly functioning and your joints are properly lubricated. Being properly hydrated also directly impacts your energy levels. In order to have the most amount of energy needed, your body needs to have all parts in working order and water makes this happen. Being properly hydrated also ensures that you’ll be able to compensate for the water you will lose during a workout. You actually release more than you think so it’s important to stay hydrated. If you need a “refresher” on all of the benefits water has to offer, you can refer back to one of my past blogs about adequate H2O.
Next step, sleep! Be sure to get enough rest the day before a workout. Rest helps the body reboot and recharge. It energizes your brain and cells and allows the body time to properly rebuild. In order for your body to have adequate rest time to do all of this, shoot for at least 6 hours of solid sleep. Proper rest also helps to regulate our hunger hormones. It keeps them under control, allowing to eat when you’re truly hungry and need the fuel as opposed to unnecessary snacking, or in some cases, emotional eating. Having trouble falling asleep? Try to set some boundaries when it comes to blue screen time whether that be television, phone, or computer. Try to avoid electronics for about half an hour before bedtime to allow your brain to rest before your body goes to rest. Something that you also might want to consider is taking advantage of Performance Inspired ZMA. ZMA is a great supplement that helps with muscle recovery, but also helps when it comes to falling asleep and staying asleep.
Now that you’re hydrated and rested, mentally think about your workout before you jump into it. Have a plan in place. Are you going to concentrate on strength or cardio? If it’s strength, what muscle groups are you going to focus on and what are going to do hit those muscles? If it’s cardio, are your going for speed or endurance and are you planning to run or hit the elliptical? Yes, things may change based on equipment availability, but at least you’ll have a general idea of a plan that can easily be modified or tweaked. Knowing your workout ahead of time also means thinking about your clothing. No, I don’t mean making sure your cute sports bra matches your leggings. I mean making sure the clothes you are going to wear are suitable for the movements you are going to be doing. The worst feeling is trying to get a good workout in while your shorts ride up or your sports bra isn’t as supportive as it should be. Think about these things when planning your workout to ensure you’re prepared and can effectively master a movement without injury, feeling uncomfortable, or worse, a wardrobe malfunction!
Ok, so you’re hydrated, rested, know what you’re going to do and are prepared to do it, what next? I recommend a pre-workout. PI’s Tropical Fruit Punch Pre-Workout is a great way to ignite your energy and be prepped and primed for a great workout whether it be strength or cardio. What I love about PI’s Pre-Workout is it gives me a great amount of energy without making me feel like I’m crawling out of my skin. It’s recommended to take your pre-workout about 30 minutes before your workout to have it work at its peak level and get the most out of it. I personally like to work out on an empty stomach, but there is no right or wrong way to go about this. If your body is telling you it needs fuel, it is recommended you have a small snack, usually something with carbohydrates for the energy, about an hour to half an hour before your workout.
You’ve done everything you need at home or leading up to workout and you’re ready to go, but are you really? Not yet. Foam-rolling and dynamic stretching are very important in order to get the most out of your muscles and avoid injury. Foam-rolling is great for after, but it can be just as great before. It can help to break up bunched up areas of your muscles and allow them to contract more smoothly and effectively. If you forget to foam-roll or can’t, at the very least, stretch! Research has shown that dynamic stretching before a workout is more beneficial that static stretching. Dynamic stretching means stretching while moving through a movement as opposed to standing still. Properly stretching helps loosen you up and use your muscles to the best of their flexibility.
Hydrated? Check. Rest? Check. Knowledge? Check. Pre-Workout (and snack if needed)? Check. Stretch? Check. All that left is have some good music or good friends to get a great workout in. Once you have properly prepared physically and mentally, there is so stopping someone that is driven and determined. Dig deep and get the job done, but remember in order to do so, you have to bring your A game. In the words of good ol’ Abraham Lincoln, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”