Not everything is about which exercises you choose and how many reps you do - preparing for your workout also has a big impact on your performance! Whether you’re working out toward a specific goal or you’re just trying to stay active, you want your workout session to be as effective as possible, and there are many ways to achieve this other than just focusing on training hard. Your pre-workout routine is as important as your workout routine because your body keeps functioning and existing before and after each workout, so you need to properly take care of it if you want to maximize your fitness results.
So, if you’re serious about achieving your goals at the gym and want to stay healthy throughout the process, then you’ll definitely want to support your body before each workout. We’ll guide you through some of the most important things to keep in mind before a workout so you can maximize your performance and avoid injury!
Have a good warm-up session
If there’s anything that you definitely don’t want to miss before a workout, it is a good warm-up! Warming up your muscles will help them prepare for what’s about to come, whether it’s a light strength training session or an intense HIIT workout because you’re in a resting state before working out and your muscles are not ready to start moving all of a sudden. Doing this will help you prevent soreness after your workout and even possible injuries because warming up helps get the blood flowing and your body temperature rise, as well as increase the range of motion of your muscles and joints to be able to perform a wider variety of movements. This will translate into better and more effective workouts, as well as being able to perform more reps overall. And warm-ups are not only physical but mental too! When you start moving, you mentally prepare for your upcoming workout, helping you get pumped up about it and get into your training with high spirits. So don’t be tempted to skip your warm-up and start exercising right away! If you’re short on time, it’s better to shorten your workout than skip the warm-up because you’ll want to avoid feeling awful later, or injuring yourself, and not being able to keep working out.
Stretching is the most popular way of warming up before a workout, particularly dynamic stretching, in which you mimic the movements that you’ll be doing on your workout so you can better warm up the muscles that you’re going to recruit for your training session instead of getting into it with a stiff body. Static stretching is another option, but this one is usually better for cooling down because it helps your muscles relax and go back to their resting state, so try to stick with dynamic stretches pre-workout to get your heart pumping!
Plan your workout ahead
If you want to make the most out of your training time, you need to make sure you’re going into it knowing exactly what you’re going to do! Planning your workout before you start working out will help you give structure to your fitness journey because everyone works out for a specific reason. Maybe you’re looking to gain muscle, build resistance, lose weight, or even just maintain your current physique, and for each one of these goals, there are specific exercises that are more effective than others! Laying out a workout schedule is what will ultimately help you achieve your goals, not just choosing the exercises 30 minutes before training, but actually planning your week so each muscle group is equally trained without neglecting or overtraining any of them, which can happen if you don’t plan accordingly.
Whether you prefer to do full-body workouts or divide your week into training splits, or if you prefer training early in the morning or after you get off work, following a structured training program will help you maximize your workouts and move in the right direction, as well as prepare yourself physically and mentally before each workout - just like we previously mentioned with warm-ups! This is also incredibly helpful to track your progress, such as when you’re doing progressive overload, so don’t forget to set some time aside to plan ahead. Consistency is key!
Fuel yourself properly
You need the energy to move your body and work out, but you can’t have energy if you don’t fuel your body with enough water and healthy foods. You need to make sure that your body is properly hydrated before each workout because you’re going to be sweating a lot, losing body water and electrolytes in the process. And water is what helps your nutrients get to the places they need to be in your body! You need protein for muscle development and repair, and carbohydrates for energy replenishment, so water is what will help these nutrients get to their destination quicker. The more water your body has, the more efficient it will be at absorbing and distributing these nutrients throughout your body.
The other big thing is eating well before your workouts! Ideally, you should eat a full and nutrient-rich meal around 2-3 hours before your workout so your body is properly fueled, but you can also opt to eat a smaller snack an hour before your workout that’s simple to digest and contains protein and carbs to maximize your efforts. Some people prefer to do fasted workouts, meaning that they exercise in the morning on an empty stomach, and while this can be beneficial for losing weight, it might promote muscle loss and even a decrease in performance since your body is not properly fueled. So keep this in mind if you’re still deciding which kind of workout to do!
Take a pre-workout supplement
While pre-workout supplements aren’t completely necessary, they can be a great addition to your workouts because they offer you enough support to get through your session safely and effectively. Workout supplements are particularly beneficial to fill nutritional gaps when you’re not getting enough nutrients from your diet, but even if you have a healthy and complete diet, these supplements can still help you excel at your workouts! Pre-workout powders, which are the most popular pre-workout supplement, almost always contain caffeine, a stimulant that helps increase alertness and muscle endurance, as well as other components such as beta-alanine, L-citrulline, and L-arginine in optimal doses to increase your energy and focus before your workout, and promote better performance.
BCAA supplements are another great option that you can take as a pre-workout, or even after, to promote better recovery and prevent muscle fatigue while you work out because it’s composed of the three main essential amino acids involved in muscle protein synthesis: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
Get enough sleep
We all know that we need sleep to be healthy, but a lot of people tend to overlook exactly how important having a good sleep quality is. It’s not just about going to sleep and waking up the next day, but actually keeping a healthy sleeping pattern every night, aiming to get from 7 to 9 hours of sleep if possible. This is because sleep is when all of the regulatory stuff happens in your body, from your hormones to your immune system and even your appetite, and they all play an important role in your overall energy the next day. If you don’t get enough sleep, your energy won’t be at its peak level when you wake up and you might not be able to give it all in your next workout. Not only that, but your mood also plays an important role in your workouts, and being in a bad mood from lack of sleep isn’t beneficial because you won’t be able to focus on your exercises!
Another huge thing is that during sleep is when your body repairs and builds new muscle, recovering from your last workout and preparing your body for a new day. If you don’t get enough sleep, your muscles won’t be able to recover as quickly, potentially impacting the outcome of your workout and even risking an injury in the future. All in all, sleep is crucial if you want to have an effective workout, so start practicing good sleeping discipline!
When we talked earlier about planning your workouts, we mentioned following a structured workout program, but there’s another thing that will help you get the most out of your training sessions: wearing the appropriate attire for your workout! Being able to perform different exercises by getting into a variety of positions, jumping, stretching, and just moving, in general, has a lot to do with your range of motion and flexibility, but also with what you’re wearing at the moment. If you choose to work out in jeans because that’s what you were wearing before your workout session and didn’t want to change, then chances are you won’t be able to perform many exercises effectively. Choose a good workout outfit that will be comfortable for the activity you’re going to do, whether that’s lifting weights, running, or practicing your flexibility, making sure that it’s breathable enough for you - including shoes, accessories, and underwear!
Getting comfortable is also about your surroundings because you want to be able to enjoy your workout session and give it all that you’ve got, which is why we recommend listening to music while working out! Grab your headphones and prepare a good playlist with fun songs that you could listen to while working out, preferably with a fast tempo so you can get pumped and stay motivated throughout your session.
If you keep all of these tips in mind, your body will thank you and you’ll start maximizing your workout performance without setbacks in no time! Remember that leading a fitness life is equal parts working out and properly taking care of your body before and after exercising, so everything is connected. If you neglect sleeping, hydrating yourself, and even warming up, your fitness life will be severely impacted, so try to prioritize those things as much as you prioritize working out!
And if you’re looking for some help planning your workout routine, check out the Fit With Iulia app! Iulia plans new goal-focused workouts each week to help you get better and more effective results for your fitness journey. Try your first workout for free by downloading the Fit With Iulia app, choosing a goal, and starting your first workout with Iulia – no subscription required!