What you do before a workout will either make or break your training session. Prep for a winning workout with these tips!
Working out is healthy. We all know this - that’s why we do it. We want to get fitter and stronger while looking good and feeling amazing.
However, we don’t always take the healthiest route, often we look to artificial pre-workout supplements to give ourselves a boost before we train.
And it’s no surprise why; getting pumped up for a great workout is often the biggest battle in training, and with so much of our energy being spent at work, on our relationships, and our other hobbies and pursuits, it’s little wonder that so many of us rely on chemical stimulants to get us through our workouts.
Although they claim to help us get more out of our fitness regimes, so many pre-workout supplements are made from artificial ingredients and can have a negative impact on our overall health long term.
If you’re reaching for the quick fixes before you head to the gym, then it’s very likely you need to look at your nutrition as well as lifestyle choices. What we eat and what we do before a training session will have the biggest impact on our workout.
In light of this, here are 9 tips to remember when it comes to pre-workout nutrition and pre-workout habits:
1. Be Proactive with Protein
Have some plant-based protein before your workout, but ideally a couple hours beforehand, because protein takes a while to digest. It’s well known that having protein after a workout is necessary for muscle tissue building & repair.
However, this can take place more efficiently if you also have protein before your workout. This is because it supplies your body with the amino acids required for building tissue at the very time when your body starts to begin recovery post-workout.
Protein can also help to keep your blood sugar more stable, which means you’ll maintain better focus throughout your workout.
There are many whole food sources of plant-based protein, including tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, beans, lentils and peas - but having a delicious smoothie is often the easiest way to get your pre-workout protein.
2. Keep Your Carbs Complex
Carbohydrates are a key macronutrient to get in before a workout because they provide an easily accessible source of energy. Starting your workout with full glycogen stores will prevent your body from breaking down muscle protein for energy.
However, not all carbs are created equal. Be sure that your pre-workout snack or meal is rich in complex carbohydrates, which includes vegetables like sweet potatoes and pumpkin, whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa and barley, and even wholemeal breads and pastas.
As a rule, avoid anything that is highly processed, with a large list of unidentifiable ingredients.
3. Have a Banana
For many of the world’s leading athletes, bananas are the number one fruit. Meanwhile, many of us are still afraid of the sugar content of this magical energy booster.
Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose. Even just reading these words sparks fear in the hearts of many health-conscious people - but this is absolute madness! These sugars, when combined with the banana’s high fibre content and a long list of vitamins and minerals, means this super fruit can provide us with an instant, sustained and substantial boost of natural energy.
These sugars, when combined with the banana’s high fibre content and a long list of vitamins and minerals, means this super fruit can provide us with an instant, sustained and substantial boost of natural energy.
4. Eat Light and Right
It’s also a good idea to save your big, healthy feast for after your workout. Ideally, we should aim to eat around half the calories we’re expecting to burn during the workout, but don’t overthink it - just make sure you’re not exercising on an overly full stomach to avoid cramping and feeling lethargic when you want to be performing your best.
What we eat is really important, but there are some other essential points in a healthy workout preparation.
One of the many benefits of regular exercise is an increase in energy and vitality - but if we struggle to find the energy to workout in the first place, we end up turning to stimulants - and this just pushes us further away from the goal of feeling naturally energised.
The following 6 points work alongside good nutrition to boost our mood, prevent injury and get us buzzed (naturally!) for a killer workout.
5. Water is the Way
Water is essential for our bodies to function properly, and exercise is one of the quickest ways for out water stores to be depleted. We all know how important it is to drink water after our workouts but to avoid dehydration, make sure you’ve had plenty of water before you even begin exercising.
If you’re not well hydrated before you begin your workout, you’re at risk of getting a headache, suffering from poor coordination and a lack of energy, and are likely to end up in a terrible mood. You’ll be amazed at how getting hydrated can increase your energy levels and stamina. Aim to drink a litre of water in the couple of hours before your workout.
6. Find a Natural High
Instead of getting artificially fired up with stimulants, remember that there are many natural ways to get in the mood for a workout. Everyone is different, so some of us might find that listening to certain kinds of music can get us pumped up for a great workout, while others might get excited by setting goals and saying positive affirmations.
Even just spending some time with our eyes closed in a quiet room, envisioning our goals and clarifying in our minds what we want to get out of our workout, could be all it takes to stoke the fire.
7. Be Prepared
Too often, we make excuses for why we don’t get around to exercising, but fortunately, there is a way to combat this - always be prepared.
Being prepared encompasses everything from having a precise workout plan, having all your gear packed and ready to go, as well as having all your healthy meals prepped for the week. If you’re running out of ideas for healthy plant-based meals and snacks, here’s something to get your taste buds tingling.
An injury is the last thing you need, so don’t cut stretching out of your pre-workout routine! However - it’s important that you understand that not all kinds of stretching are helpful (or even safe) prior to a workout.
Static stretching, for example, is ideal for post-workout recovery but should be avoided in your pre-workout routine. The best way to prepare your body for a workout is to move while you stretch - this is called dynamic stretching, and it not only activates our muscles, but this kind of stretching also improves our range of motion and body awareness.
Warming up in this way enhances muscular performance and power, so check out this dynamic warm up to prep for any workout.
When we’re sleep deprived, we’re not only more likely to injure ourselves during exercise, but we’re also prone to bingeing out on processed junk foods, overdosing on caffeine, and even making excuses to avoid exercising altogether.
Getting a good night’s sleep before your workout is one of the most useful things you can do to ensure you perform at your best and, more importantly, actually enjoy your workout.
So there you have it, 9 powerful points you can use to make your next workout a winning workout!