When it comes to maximizing your gains in the gym, preparation is key. The same way that your coach develops a game plan before you face an opponent, you should come up with a training ritual before you start your workout sessions. After all, as any elite athlete knows, you can’t just play hard; you have to also play smart. This same concept applies to your fitness regimen. So, let’s take a closer look at seven things you should be doing before every workout.
Prioritize Getting Quality Sleep
While the average American sleeps for about seven hours per day, the best athletes in the world make sure to get around 10 to 12 hours of sleep. That’s because a lack of sleep can lead to a decrease in stamina, attention, reactivity, strength, and attentiveness, which are all crucial to performing well on the court, field, or ice, as well as in the gym. To improve your sleep hygiene, you should go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning, even on weekends. Removing electronic devices from your bedroom like smart phones, TVs, and computers, as well as avoiding large meals and caffeine before bed should help you get a good night’s sleep, too. Your bedroom should also be quiet, dark, and relaxing. And if you’re not sure how many hours of sleep you’re getting per night, or are concerned about the quality of your sleep, sleep trackers can help to monitor and improve your sleep quality.
Eat A Pre-Workout Meal
During the 24-hour period before a game or an intense workout session, you should consume a nutritionally balanced diet and drink adequate fluids. It’s also very important for you to be mindful of what you’re eating during your pre-workout meal as certain foods can lead to an energy crash. To avoid an energy crash, it’s a good idea to stay away from processed foods and foods that are high in fat content, as well as carbonated sodas. When selecting foods for your pre-workout meal, make sure that you’re consuming both protein and carbohydrates. Some food options for you to consider are fruits like bananas, apples, or oranges (which are all complex carbohydrates), toast with peanut butter (which contains carbs, fat, and protein), or a protein shake. The timing of your pre-workout meal is completely up to you, but eating a nutritious meal about an hour before your workout should provide you with enough energy for your training session.
Make Sure To Hydrate
Adequate fluid replacement helps to maintain hydration, while promoting the health, safety, and optimal physical performance of anyone participating in regular physical activity. About two hours before exercising, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking about 20 ounces of fluid in order to promote adequate hydration and allow time for excretion of excess ingested water. Hydrating this way, instead of chugging water right before you train, will limit bathroom break disruptions during your workout.
Consider Boosting Your Energy
If you’re someone who usually feels like you can use a pick-me-up during your workout sessions, drinking a cup of coffee might help increase your energy levels. Caffeine has been shown to help with training by stalling fatigue, stimulating your nervous system, and possibly speeding up your recovery. If coffee isn’t your thing, a pre-workout supplement might help heighten your focus and provide an energy boost, as well. Six Star’s Pre-Workout Explosion is a premium, delicious tasting pre-workout powder that’s formulated to deliver an incredible energy boost, enhanced mental focus, and intense pumps. And if you’d rather not mix and shake your own drink, Six Star’s Performance Energy Explosion Can makes it possible for you to get your pre-workout in a convenient energy drink. Try to get your pre-workout in about 30 minutes before your workout so you’re at the peak of its effects by the time you get to the gym.
Have Your Workout Gear Ready To Go
The fitness apparel you wear while you’re working out matters. It can be the difference between you being comfortable and feeling good during your workout session, or being uncomfortable and just counting down the minutes until it’s over. So, before heading out the door make sure that you have everything you need for your workout ready to go in your gym bag. The last thing you want to do is show up to the gym and then realize that you left your favorite workout shirt and sneakers at home, or see that yesterday’s sweaty gym clothes are still in your bag rather than your clean ones.
Always Warm Up
Warming up helps your body prepare for aerobic activity. When you warm up, your cardiovascular system gradually revs up by raising your body temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles. Start by warming up at a low-to-moderate level on a treadmill or an exercise bike for five minutes or so. It’s okay to break a little sweat here, but make sure not to overdo it during your warm up. Then use a foam roller to help your body decrease tension in your muscles and to loosen up any of the tight muscles that you’ll be training. After your foam rolling session, it’s time to do a dynamic warm up that includes both mobility and stability drills, which will allow you to keep moving and prepare your body for the workout. A proper warm up may also help reduce muscle soreness and lower your risk of injury.
Create/Update Your Pump-Up Playlist
Listening to music during a workout may improve your performance by regulating your movements (allowing your respiration rate and heartbeat rate to align), reducing how your brain processes fatigue, and distracting your brain from what is going on inside to what is going on around you, which will allow you to concentrate on the environment you’re in, rather than how challenging your workout is. Music can also elevate your mood, making exercising more psychologically pleasing, especially when you make the perfect playlist for yourself rather than just listening to whatever is playing in the background at the gym. While there’s technically no best genre or song for your playlist, the ideal tempo is between 120 and 140 beats per minute.