Routines are important.
Whether it’s the way you start your day or end it, your workout and training routine is no exception. If you really want to get the results you want, keep it, progress, and get it faster then it’s important that you have some core routines you follow, regardless of what’s going on.
In this post, I’ll break down what core things I do before my workouts that help me achieve the fitness level I’m looking to attain. You’ll find out what I do during and after in parts II and III.
So, if you’re ready for Part I, let’s go!
Before the Workout
- Good sleep
- Solid nutrition
- A performance aid (supplements)
- A good warm-up
What may be arguably the most vital ingredient for any workout’s success happens long before you workout.
What is it?
Specifically, how much and the quality.
There’s a HUGE difference if you sleep like a baby or you were you tossing and turning all night because you were stressed. I guarantee you that you will always–I mean ALWAYS–have a better workout with the former than the later. You might be able to get by with one or two workouts with poor sleep, but it will catch up with you fast and make you feel horrible.
If you want a good workout then SLEEP! It’s easy, so do more of it!
Should you eat food right before, an hour before, or not at all?
Short answer: it depends.
It’s not a sexy answer, but it’s true.
Everyone is different and you have to find what works best for you. Depending upon what goals you want to achieve, like if you’re cutting weight or adding mass, it’ll impact you on whether or not you need something in your belly.
I can only give anecdotal evidence from myself, but I’ve found what works best for me is if I workout later in the day, after I’ve had a meal in me. It’s usually not a big meal, I save that for dinner (click here to learn why), but I just feel and perform better when I’ve eaten something.
Currently, I’ll eat lunch around mid day, maybe have a protein bar an hour before my workout, and have my training session in late afternoon (usually around 5pm). I just feel I have more energy and my body is primed for a workout.
This is what works best for me, but find what works for you and go!
Okay, here’s the big one you’ve been waiting for. Do I use a pre-workout and take any other specialty supplements before my workout?
Answer: not usually, but sometimes.
I think there’s a really good benefit if you take a good pre-workout and take it right.
From my experience, I’ve taken many pre-workouts that include: Cellucor’s C4, PMD’s Pump Fuel, Pump HD, BPI Vortex, Vega’s Sport Energizer and others. Out of the ones I’ve tried, I would say Cellucor and Pump Fuel are the best and they actually help like they say it does.
However, what worries me is that many, if not the vast majority (including some of the ones I mentioned), are not completely natural because they usually have tons of extra stuff that you and I should stay away from. Whether it’s artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, or unlisted or banned ingredients, you can’t be exactly sure.
The good news, however, is that I recently found a company I’m excited to try called ETB Fit. ETB stands for “Eat The Bear” and they’re a fairly new company, since they were founded in 2011. They pride themselves on offering “clean and lean” supplements that help fuel your body and workouts right and I plan to put that to the test.
They’re pre-workout looks good, since it’s free of artificial colors/flavors, has no sugar, and, as far as I can tell, has everything you would expect out of a pre-workout to give you increased pumps and enhance strength, endurance, and focus. Hopefully it tastes good, which is a big one with me, but I’m hopeful to give it a try soon.
(If you want to check out ETB Fit visit their website here!)
In addition, an alternative I use very often for a pre-workout is an energy drink called Celsius. I drink it a half an hour before, just like a pre-workout, to give me an extra boost of energy. It helps me sweat which is all I ask for, haha!
In regards to other supplements, sometimes I take BCAA’s, but that’s usually during my workout. I’ve definitely noticed a positive impact from my experience from taking them and found that it helps sustain my workouts longer and gives me a much needed boost to maintain my intensity. This is probably because BCAAs help fight off muscle catabolism and fatigue.
Take it and it might do the same for you.
As for now, that’s all for supplements.
I don’t think anyone would argue that everyone should stretch. How much, what kind of stretching, and when you do it is when debates start to happen.
In regards to what I do, however, I like to stretch before and after using variations of dynamic and static stretching. Dynamic stretching helps me gets things moving once I get to the gym and once I warm-up a little bit I do static stretching for extra mobility and functionality. This routine helps keep my muscles responsive and elastic for optimal performance.
In addition, I make sure I stretch my whole body, regardless of what I’m doing for the day. If I’m doing squats as my main movement, for example, I will put more emphasis on my lower body, but I’ll stretch all my upper body too. I think stretching the whole body as a unit is so important because your body performs as one unit, so it just makes sense to do it that way, at least for me.
Stretching is important, so make sure you do it!
My warm-up goes hand and hand with my stretching. I’ll do some stretching before, as I mentioned, but I’ll usually warm-up on the bike or even a mile run, if I’m feeling good. Whatever the case, warming-up for me is getting your heart rate elevated, a sweat going, and your body taking some deep breaths.
I also like to warm-up with some calisthenics, such as push-ups, pull-ups, etc., to get more of my muscles firing and primed to do physical work. Getting blood flow is vital for a good workout and calisthenics, in addition to some light cardio, is a great way to do that if you weight train like I do.
Well, there you have it! My pre-workout routine.
But, what do you think? Tell me by leaving a comment down below because I want to know!
And, stay tuned for Part II where I talk about what I do during my workout to stay motivated and focused to get stronger.
Until next time, be strong and be you!