No matter what workout you are getting yourself into, there are certain things that need to be done to help you achieve the most from your workout. I know we are all pressed for time as it is, and are eager to jump right into the workout itself, but if you do not take the proper steps before each workout, you could be sabotaging your results, or worse lead yourself into a preventable injury.
If you plan ahead and warm up properly you will have a more effective workout and produce better results, as well as be less prone to injury. This article, 4 Things You Should Do Before Every Workout from LiveStrong.com gives you four quick steps you can take before your workout to help you achieve more effective workouts:
Eat 60 to 90 Minutes Before Your Workout
“Whether you train first thing in the morning, worry about getting queasy while training or subscribe to the misguided notion that training on an empty stomach burns more fat, you are doing yourself a disservice by not filling your gas tank prior to a workout.”
If you do workout early in the morning, right after waking up – which is great time to do it – chances are you’ve gone at least 8, some even 12 hours without eating. Going this long without eating means your body is starved for nutrients and energy, if you want to be able to power through your workout and go as hard as you can, you’ll need some pre-workout fuel. If you are able to go harder and longer through your workouts, your workout time is going to be better spent than if you were only able to muster up the energy to simply go through the motions.
A pre-workout meal or snack with lean protein and slow-acting carbs is going to help “boost your strength, increase lean mass and burn fat.” Click here for some great ideas on what you should eat before your cardio and/or strength training workouts.
If you are working out first thing in the morning the article from LiveStrong suggests making a “workout shooter” to take before your workout. This consists of a scoop of whey protein with a glass of watered down orange juice to break your fast and provide you with some nutrients to power through your morning workout.
Use a Foam Roller 10-15 Minutes before Training
You’ll often see pro athletes having specialist work on them before games and practices giving them deep tissue treadmills to help break up knots, improve muscle quality and increase their mobility. Unfortunately most of us don’t have access to such specialist, yet fortunately we do have an inexpensive tool that can come close to this, a foam roller.
Check out previous post How To Foam Roll Like A Pro to learn how to use a foam roller. Just 10 minutes before your workout is all you need to feel more limber giving you the ability to perform your exercises more effectively.
Do Dynamic Mobility Work 5-10 Minute before Training
We’ve talked about The Importance of Stretching before your workouts in a previous post, but not every stretching routine is going to provide the same results. Doing dynamic mobility stretching before your workout is actually going to help produce greater workout results than static stretching can.
Dynamic mobility includes “full body movements where the stretch is help for only one to two seconds in each position.” Doing a 5-10 minute routine will elevate your heart rate and prime your muscles to prepare for the workout ahead. You can either do the same dynamic routine before every workout, or pick specific movements that work the muscles you will be working during that workout.
According the above mentioned LiveStrong article, “research has shown that those who engaged in dynamic warm-ups produce greater long-term gains in mobility and flexibility, along with strength, than those who do static stretching or skim the warm-up altogether.”
Check out this video for an example of a dynamic warm-up for runners. Or this article from TreadmillSensei that gives some great Tips For Stretching Before Exercise.
Workout Specific Warm-Up Sets at the Beginning of Training
A great way to prevent injury during your strength training, as well as prime your nervous system and improve your workout performance is to perform warm-up sets at 40-70 percent of your one-rep max for each of the major lifts you plan on doing during your workout.
LiveStrong gives this example: if you are planning to front squat 185 pounds for 6 reps, begin with a set of 8 at 95 pounds, then a set of 6 at 135 and finally a set of 4 at 160. This will provide the proper balance of being primed for your workout sets without being fatigued by performing too many warm-ups. They also suggest “a rule of thumb is the closer to your max you are attempting to lift, the more warm-up sets you should do.”
Have any other tips that help get you workout ready?
What are some of your favorite pre-workout snacks or meals?!