When it comes to the fitness lifestyle, the time we spend working out tends to be the main point of focus and gets the majority of the credit, but it shouldn’t.
Yes, if you want to burn fat or build muscle, working out is a crucial part ... and there is no denying that everyone wants to have a great workout.
That’s a given.
All too often though, there is a huge emphasis on the one hour you are actually working out and an underemphasis on the other 23 hours a day.
Spoiler Alert: Those other 23 Hours a day have a huge impact on your workouts.
For most people, their pre-workout routine goes something like this … find a time they're going to workout, take some sort of pre-workout powder 30 minutes before, and then workout … that’s about all of the planned preparation they invest into “improving” their workouts to see better results.
It’s not 100% wrong, I have been in that routine before, and I certainly take pre-workout supplements myself.
As far as really setting your body up for a great workout though ... there's a lot more we can do than just focusing on a pre-workout supplement alone.
See, there is a common understanding that taking pre-workout supplements can help with performance in the gym, but what if we extend that window out a bit … meaning not just looking at the last 30 minutes before you train to help with performance and simply relying solely on a supplement to “get you through” your workout ... but looking more at the rest of the day, and the time leading up to your workout.
And that's why I put this blog together. To provide information on things other than just pre-workout supplements that will help improve your workouts!
So, if you’re looking to improve your workouts, reach your goals more quickly, and simply set yourself up to crush your workouts…
Here are 7 habits that you can add to your fitness routine if you want to help improve the quality of your workouts.
1) Quality Sleep
Sleep is the time when our body is ultimately trying to recover from all the stress it goes through daily, and it is vital to gaining muscle, losing fat, and being healthy.
Unfortunately, sleep is an afterthought in most people’s fitness routine, because they're too consumed with how much they can get done in the day, instead of focusing on reaping the HUGE benefits from getting QUALITY sleep.
It’s not even just about logging more hours in bed, but it’s about truly resting, and allowing your body to reach deep and restful REM sleep.
Being well-rested helps with performance during your workouts as well as proper hormone production, better recovery, and also keeping your hunger hormones in check.
This makes it easier to push harder while training and easier to stick to your nutrition plan … which as you know, consistently sticking to your plan is the key to your success.
There is no hard rule on how much water you should consume leading into a workout, because there are too many variables like age, gender, weight, height, workout style, intensity of the workout, etc … but as a rough guideline, shooting for 100-120 oz or more each day is a good start.
Ideally, 20 oz of that will come in the hour or two leading into your workout.
However, I would NOT recommend just chugging 20 ounces right before you go train as this can cause some stomach discomfort, and having a belly full of water while training might hold you back from truly pushing yourself as hard as you should.
Instead, you should be sipping water leading into your training.
Being well-hydrated will help with proper muscle function, mental clarity, fighting off fatigue, and preventing muscle cramps!
3) Fuel Properly
Many people overlook the importance of fueling going into your workout, and by fueling, I am talking about proper nutrition prior to training.
Because when you are running on fumes while trying to workout, your intensity and strength are both decreased.
This can cause you to feel sluggish, your performance will most likely suffer, and therefore, you will not be getting in as great of a workout.
To make sure you are properly fueled, a good habit to get into is trying to eat about 1 to 2 hours before your workout. In that meal, I recommend having a complete protein source and some complex carbohydrates.
That said, not all proteins are created equal regarding the quality/amino acid content. Yes, whether it's complete or incomplete DOES make a major difference in how your body responds to the protein, and in your overall results.
Complete protein sources contain all 9 of the essential amino acids our bodies need, but can't create on their own. Therefore, these amino acids must be obtained through the food we eat or supplements we take.
Note: Complete proteins are most often found in animal sources such as meat, fish, eggs, or in supplements like whey protein shakes.
Consuming a complete protein source AND complex carbohydrates together will help to give your body the proper nutrients it needs for fuel, help minimize the amount of muscle tissue being broken down for energy, and can help you perform at your best!
If you train first thing in the morning and don't have time to eat that far in advance, or you just like training on an empty stomach, it's certainly not the end of the world and perfectly fine to do! There are quite a few mornings where I train first thing before eating too!
If this is what you typically do, and want to continue training on an empty stomach, you can still utilize the other tips to help improve your workouts!
4) Pre-workout Supplementation
This step takes place 15 to 30 minutes before you are going to begin your warm-up for your workout.
The purpose of pre-workout supplements is to help you prime your body for better performance in the gym.
Ingredients such as Creatine and Beta-Alanine can help increase your performance in the gym by helping to increase strength & power (creatine) as well as endurance (beta-alanine). This will allow you to train at a higher intensity for longer while fighting off fatigue.
By doing this, you can push your body further, burn more calories, and when you recover properly … earn better results!
Caffeine and other stimulants are also very popular in pre-workouts to help increase mental energy, cognitive function, and focus ... helping you to get “dialed in” to be efficient and effective with your gym time.
Because let’s be honest … when we're “full of energy,” it makes it a lot easier to do things that we might not otherwise want to do ... like a workout after a long day, or early before work.
Other popular pre-workout ingredients are amino acids (BCAAs or Essential Amino Acids), rapid assimilating protein powders like a hydrolyzed whey isolate, and quick digesting carbohydrates.
These are great to add in for those times when you aren't able to have your pre-workout meal.
This way, your body has a quick digesting fuel source closer to your workout to help your body perform better without upsetting your stomach.
5) Review Your Workout
We’ve all heard it before … "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail."
Having a plan of attack for when you're going to work out is a great way to remove the guesswork, and can help make your workout more efficient.
The workout plan can come from different sources, but the important thing is to find what you like best and will stick to consistently. Some prefer to do pen and paper, others might have their TransPHORMation workout pulled up in the 1st Phorm App on their phone, while others follow the lead of their personal trainer or instructor on a virtual training platform.
No matter what though, making sure to review your workout plan before you start warming up will help you stay on track and use your time more effectively!
6) Your Warm-Up Routine
There are two major parts to a proper warm-up: A brief aerobic warm-up and dynamic stretching.
All too often, and I'm guilty of this too, we head into the gym, basement, garage, or living room and just kind of jump right into the workout without properly warming up.
Or, if we do a warm-up, we do one or the other, but not both.
Aerobic exercises are lower in intensity, so they won't get you very uncomfortable, or use up a ton of your fuel. An example of a brief aerobic warm-up would be riding the bike for 5 to 10 minutes before training.
Dynamic stretching is a way to stretch the muscles through movement to get them ready for activity rather than staying stationary in one spot like in static stretching.
A few examples of dynamic stretching would be doing a few walking lunges, some butt kicks, and a handful of push-ups.
I have found that it is best to first start with an aerobic warm-up to raise your body temperature, increase blood flow, and get a good little sweat going.
I would recommend spending 5 minutes or so working at a low-to-moderate level on a treadmill, rower, bike, using a jump rope, doing jumping jacks, going for a run, etc...
This can help prevent injuries and allow your muscles to work properly during your training session.
After that, it's time for a dynamic warm-up. This simply means warming up through movement.
Now that our body and joints are warm from the aerobic warm-up, we should be able to move more easily, and now we want to start working on dynamic stretching through a full range of motion with lightweight or bodyweight movements.
By executing a full range of motion through compound movements like air squats, push-ups, pull-ups, etc. you are making sure your shoulders, hips, knees, and joints are ready to train!
7) Your Recovery Routine
Even though these are the things you do AFTER you get done training, it can significantly impact the results you can earn ... specifically because you are not building any muscle during your workout. In fact, you are breaking the muscles down with resistance training, and the time of recovery is what can help you build new muscle.
A few of the habits listed above are crucial for recovery, like sleep & hydration, but another thing that I want to circle back to is fueling your body properly by giving it the nutrients it needs after you finish your training.
2 major things you do to your body while working out are breaking down muscle and depleting muscle fuel (a.k.a. glycogen). The faster you can address these two things, the better you can recover.
So, immediately after you're done training, consuming a hydrolyzed whey isolate along with a quick-digesting carbohydrate can speed up recovery.
The carbohydrates will help to replenish the muscle glycogen, while the protein will give your body the amino acids it needs to help repair and rebuild the muscle(s). This combo will stop the muscle breakdown that I mentioned earlier, and make sure you maximize your time to recover before the next training session.
What To Do Now?
Now that you know these seven steps for a great workout every time you go to the gym, it’s time to put them into action.
By following these simple steps, drinking a proper post-workout shake, and keeping your nutrition plan in check ... you'll help to improve your workouts AND your results!
As you do, if you have any questions or need any help, please let us know! You can email us at CustomerService@1stPhorm.com or give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 from 6am-10pm CDT Monday through Friday!