Your carefully-crafted workout routine is probably great. You’ve done your research, you’ve read articles, watched videos, and have finally mastered the perfect burpee. Why then, isn’t it all as effective as it should be? Why aren’t the desired results arriving as fast as you expected them to? Well, did you know that what you do before and after your workout counts just as much as the workout itself? It’s possible that your pre and post-exercising routines could use a little work, so let’s examine what you could be doing to increase the effectiveness of your fitness plan.
Before: Hydrate more
We should all generally drink more water, but it becomes especially important to drink it for your workout. You’ll be losing a lot of water as you sweat it out, so drinking a few glasses beforehand is important. Keep it in a sports bottle so you could sip slowly during the workout itself, but generally make sure your body has enough water stored to help you build up more energy.
Before: Warm up like a pro
Even if your workout is ten minutes long, warming up is necessary unless you want to sustain an injury. Light aerobic activity such as running or jumping jacks is a great option, just keep at it for five minutes and let your muscles heat up and blood pump through your veins. You’ll realize that this can also make you keep going for longer.
Before: Grab a small snack
Working out hungry can cause you to be lightheaded and dizzy during the workout, and it can seriously impact your performance. While you shouldn’t have a large meal, a tiny snack can definitely give you the energy needed to exercise. Carbs will give you energy and protein will help you build muscle, so eat something like Greek yoghurt, a piece of fruit, some oatmeal, or a few nuts half an hour before the workout.
Before: Add some cool supplements
For an added boost to your performance, caffeine is one of the best go-to solutions: it will help you power through even the most intense of workouts without feeling like you’re about to pass out from the strain. Other helpful things are vitamin B6 and B12, which will speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight, and beta-alanine, which regulates the amount of carnosine in your muscles. Stuff like creatine accelerates muscle growth, and can minimize damage and soreness from your workout. So you see, taking good pre-workout supplements that contain any number of these ingredients can help both professional athletes and people who just want some help reaching their fitness goals. Taking these before exercising will let you enjoy things like better performance during the workout, more energy, and faster recovery.
After: Don’t stop right away
Okay, now that you’re done with the workout it’s time to talk about what you should do after. First, don’t stop abruptly and definitely don’t flop down onto a chair right away. Walk around first, let your heart rate slow down, then go to the next step.
After: Stretch properly
Right after you’ve cooled down, it’s time to stretch your muscles. This helps with injury prevention, but it also makes sure you retain your range of movement and have nicely-shaped muscles. Bare in mind though that these stretches should be completely different than the ones you do when warming up. If you aren’t sure how to do it, here’s an easy guide that will help you stretch your whole body.
After: Rehydrate and refuel
Water again. You need to rehydrate, but you’ll also need a good post-workout snack. Eat something with a lot of protein that will let you retain those muscles you’ve just built, otherwise your body might end up deficient. If this happens, it can start degrading your muscles to gain back the lost energy, and we definitely want to avoid that. We recommend a small portion of roast chicken with veggies, or a protein shake.
After: Grab a shower
A nice, cold shower after a workout will reduce the post-workout inflammation and promote recovery, and you’ll have less chance of feeling sore. There’s no need for the water to be absolutely freezing, but if you’re willing to endure a bit lower water temperature you have less chances of waking up with sore muscles. It goes without saying that taking a shower also helps your skin a lot to wash away all the sweat and the dirt.
While workouts can be quite short, they should be done right. With both before and after routines you’ll create a much more effective exercise regimen that really boosts your chance of success and pushes you further towards reaching your fitness goals.