Getting the results you want from your exercise routine largely depends on the type and duration of workout you’re doing. However, what you do before your workout can also make a big difference! To get the most out of your fitness routine, experiment with pre-workout rituals that ensure you’re fueled, hydrated and hyped up.
Here are a few simple ideas to help kick your mind and body into high gear.
Eat a pre-workout meal
Pre-workout meals are all about loading up on complex carbs and lean protein. Complex carbohydrates burn slowly over time, giving you sustained energy throughout the workout session. Protein sources that are low in fat will speed up muscle recovery and keep you feeling full, so you’ll be less tempted to snack afterward (plus, limiting caloric intake is essential for those on a weight-loss journey).
You don’t have to go overboard with pre-workout recipes—lots of simple, healthy meals are made from common household ingredients. If you plan to go for a midmorning run, cook up a bowl of oatmeal topped with your choice of berries. You could also try whole-grain bread with a dollop of almond butter and sliced banana on top. For lunch or dinner, go for brown rice and grilled fish with leafy green veggies on the side.
Give yourself plenty of time to digest your pre-workout meal. Ideally, you should eat at least one and a half to two hours before hitting the gym. If you eat earlier than that, hunger might strike in the middle of your session. Eat too close to the workout, and you could get sick. It’s generally okay to eat within 30 minutes of your workout as long as you limit the food to snack-sized portions.
Hydrate with electrolytes
It’s important to hydrate during and after a workout session. You lose a lot of water through sweat, so naturally, you’ll want to chug that water bottle once all the hard work is done. However, don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Your body needs to be properly hydrated before going into the workout, so it can perform at its best. Hydration also increases focus and gives you the resolve to grind out those reps.
Plain water works great. Unfortunately, there’s no hard-and-fast rule about how much water you should be drinking every day. Water intake depends on several factors, so it varies from person to person. As a general rule, nutritionists recommend drinking half your body weight in ounces. For example, someone who’s 140 pounds should drink 70 ounces per day.
Everyone needs water, but it’s not your only option. Some drinks like coconut water are packed with electrolytes that fuel you before, during and after the workout. Look for a beverage that contains potassium. Because this mineral leaves the body through sweat, stocking up on this electrolyte will keep your muscles going strong.
Create a hype playlist
As you get ready to hit the gym, crank up those tunes! Music that gets you hyped up is essential right before an intense workout. The right songs will leave you feeling energized, motivated and filled with determination. Plus, music can replace any nervous energy with excitement.
Curate a playlist with your favorite tunes ahead of time. That way, all the music you need to make it through a workout is contained in a single spot. If you need inspiration, streaming services offer their own collection of workout playlists. Browse a few playlists until you find one that resonates with you.
Track your goals
Before jumping into a workout, take a few minutes to get in the zone. Think about why you started your fitness journey in the first place and what motivates you to move forward. Everyone is motivated for different reasons, whether it be to lose weight, become a pro athlete or simply have fun. Remembering your motive will ensure you put 100 percent effort into every single rep.
Think about your fitness goals and then write them down! Keep a log of your workouts - where you felt strong and fit, and where you felt like you could use some focus. Don’t feel pressure to have the exact same goal as somebody else. Your goal could be to run a mile, do 50 pushups, break a personal record—whatever it is, make sure the goal is unique to you. Start your workout with that goal in mind and use it to help you push through to the end.
Pre-workout rituals aren’t just for Olympic athletes. These steps will enhance any workout, whether you’re a professional bodybuilder or someone who wants to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Fitness isn’t all about the workout session itself—what matters even more is how you prepare for the journey ahead.