Whether you’re a morning or evening workout person, there are things you need to do in order to get the most out of your efforts. There are things you should not do, for that matter. Our bodies, no matter how much we’d like them to, will not perform their best if we don’t properly prepare them for physical activity.
Have you ever been in the middle of a workout when all of a sudden, tunnel vision sets in and you’ve got to sit down before you pass out?
Or maybe you have trouble even getting started? Here are a few helpful tips to prime your body for peak performance.
Fuel the Right Way
Depending on what time of day you like to work out, fueling your body will be slightly different. If you’re an early riser you’ll be working on a bit of a deficit. Best thing to do, first and foremost, drink a glass of room temperature water. It will absorb into your body more quickly than cold water and you need to replenish what you’ve lost during your slumber.
Keep in mind that being properly hydrated is essential to athletic performance. Preparing for your gym session is a 24-hour cycle when it comes to hydration. Drink your daily recommended amount and then some to account for water lost during training.
Second, and this goes for both morning and afternoon gym goers, your pre-exercise meal should be composed of complex-carbs and protein.
Beware that fatty food before exercise can prevent much needed blood flow from reaching those hard working muscles. Opt for a protein shake blended with fruit or egg whites scrambled with your favorite veggies.
For those early risers, you may want to choose something higher in natural, fast absorbing sugars, like a banana, to account for the 8 or so hours you’ve gone without fuel.
Look, it’s difficult to get every nutrient we need just from our daily food intake. Most people are on constant calorie watch and what’s more, ain’t nobody got time for that! Do yourself a favor and fill out your diet with store-bought supplements. Some of the most important to incorporate are:
This list is of utmost importance in sports nutrition. For example, magnesium greatly influences your endurance levels. If you’re low on this mineral, you can say bye bye to any cardio plans you have and to your strength training goals.
Zinc and iron are huge contributors to muscle health. Being deficient in either of these impairs muscle function and limits overall working capacity. Zinc, especially, helps in muscle repair.
Taking a multi-vitamin daily will get you closer to meeting your body’s needs – check out the liquid forms to maximize their absorption potential.
There’s a bit of debate on what type of warm-up is best pre-workout. Some believe that loosening the muscles too much prior to being active increases the risk of injury, and that very well may be so. A little light stretching would be just fine, but we’ll leave that up to you. There are, however, other things you should definitely do.
First, you want to gradually increase your heart rate. A great way to do this would be walking or jogging, jumping jacks or 10-15 minutes on a stationary bike. You don’t want to jump into the hard stuff too quickly – shocking your body isn’t the goal here! Plus, building toward a higher level of difficulty loosens your joints and increases blood flow to your muscles, priming your bod to be in fighting condition once the workout is in full swing.
Another great warmup tip is to perform body weight or low weight exercises specifically targeting the muscle groups you’re focusing on that day. The cardio warmups are great for your cardiovascular system and necessary. But, performing exercises which isolate certain muscles will do wonders for muscle definition and performance. The added blood flow will ready your muscles for the more strenuous activities of the main workout.
No matter the advice you’re provided, the most important thing is that you listen to your body. If you’re feeling sluggish, maybe your pre-workout meal was too big or eaten to close to your workout. Or, if you’re not seeing results your nutrition may be off or your warmup not well suited to your activities.
Whatever the case, trial and error is the name of the game. When figuring out what works for you, the best thing to do is to add or subtract only one thing at a time. This will make it easier to gauge what’s working and what’s not. Good luck!