Everyone has their own workout routine that they swear by, but who has the best pre-workout routine? Working out is vital for a healthy lifestyle, but having a solid pre-workout routine is essential for preventing injury, boosting energy, and maximizing your overall workout.
Whether you are stretching, using supplements, or preparing a healthy meal beforehand, the steps you take outside of the gym are just as necessary as your workout inside the gym. What are you doing to improve your fitness plan before, during, and after your workouts? Let’s take a look at what a pre-workout routine is and how you can benefit from it!
What is a Pre-Workout Routine?
A pre-workout routine is everything you do before you begin your training. But, it’s much more than just taking supplements and going to the gym immediately after. You may want to eat a healthy snack or a carbohydrate and protein-heavy meal to give you an energy boost. Your routine can even start the night before by getting a full night’s rest or meditating in the morning to prepare yourself for the day ahead.
Although stretching and staying hydrated may seem obvious, sometimes people can forget the little things. Your routine is essential because how you prepare ahead of time can affect your workout’s effectiveness!
What Are the Benefits of a Pre-Workout Routine?
Having a dedicated pre-workout routine improves your physical performance, increases your stamina, enhances your focus, and reduces your risk of injury during an exercise session. Having a routine is all about preparation, both physically and mentally. Not being able to focus, forgetting to stretch, or eating unhealthy foods can lead to possible injury or a sluggish workout.
A pre-workout routine can help you maximize your exercise results in the limited amount of available time. Your body adapts to your routine, so it’s important to keep yourself consistent.
A great way to prepare mentally is to create and review your workout itinerary. Having the workout routine mapped out ahead of time allows you to execute without having to overthink. Readying the mind and body will enable you to exercise more efficiently and prepare you for the eventual post workout and muscle recovery period.
What are the Best Natural Pre-Workout Routines?
Pre-workout supplements have many benefits, such as providing an array of vitamin boosters and caffeine to help stay alert. However, there are some safety concerns since the FDA doesn’t regulate them. Supplements such as creatine and caffeine could have long-term negative effects on the body.
Fortunately, there are a number of alternative natural routines available to everyone that can help bolster a workout!
Every pre-workout routine should begin with a great night of sleep. Actually sleeping and working out have a very close relationship! Being well-rested can lead to better workout performances, and high-intensity workouts can help you get better sleep. Studies have shown that medium to high-intensity workouts produce a chemical in the brain called adenosine, making the individual feel tired. In fact, caffeine is the stimulant that blocks adenosine to prevent you from feeling sleepy!
Sleep is critical to recovery and performance as well. Resting provides the body with ample downtime to build muscle fiber from your workouts. A well-rested individual will have more energy and recover quicker than someone who did not sleep well and is tired.
Eating A Nutritious Snack
Eating a quick snack before or even after exercising can help boost energy levels throughout the day. It is recommended to eat a snack that is high in carbohydrates, protein, and fat to provide the fuel needed for a good workout.
If you decide to eat a full meal before working out, make sure there is at least a 2-3 hour gap after eating, so the food has some time to digest. Some popular options for a nutritious snack are:
- Trail mix
- Protein bars
- Greek yogurt
- Steamed vegetables
Nutrition is one of the main pillars surrounding fitness and exercise. Giving yourself snacks high in carbohydrates, protein, and fat during a pre-workout routine can help improve performance and post-workout recovery.
It is always essential to make sure you stay hydrated before, during, and after working out. During exercise, the body sweats, so it’s important to continue replenishing lost fluids. Being dehydrated can severely impact performance, health, and cause muscle cramps so it is never too early to begin hydrating yourself. Water plays a vital role because our cells need it to produce energy. When our body breaks down food and converts it into fuel, it requires water to complete the process.
Plus, the heart has to pump harder if there are fewer fluids in the body. The heart must maintain a specific blood volume in the body at all times. If you become dehydrated, your heart has to work harder to circulate the blood throughout your system.
One thing you don’t want to do is chug water right before a workout. Drinking lots of fluids right before a session fills your bladder, and you may be making frequent bathroom trips throughout your training. The result is losing more liquids than you are intaking, which becomes counter-intuitive to staying hydrated. Massive hydration right before your session can also cause “side aches.”
When working out, understanding that hydration is absolutely key. Ensure that you stay hydrated with a drink post workout as well!
Warming-up is an essential but often forgotten step in a pre-workout ritual. Before a workout, try to warm up the body with a quick aerobic or cardio exercise to allow blood flow to the muscles. Studies have shown that stretching while not warmed-up can cause a muscle to pull or tighten up.
A warm-up is supposed to raise your core temperature and increase your heart rate. A warm body pumps blood more efficiently and will allow for high-intensity workouts later. Some excellent light intensity workouts to get the blood flow going and the muscles loosened up are:
- Jumping jacks/jump rope
- Light walks or jogs (treadmills and ellipticals are great)
- Stationary cycling
Stretching helps keep the body flexible and allows a full range of motion for the joints. Beginning a workout cold can lead to muscle tightness, which may result in injury. Even if it’s only a short session, the sudden strain on the muscles can be painful so remember to stretch during your pre-workout routine. There are certain key areas of mobility that should be the focus of stretching during the warm-up:
- Hips (hip flexors)
- Back/lower back
Stretching is critical for a pre-workout routine. Ideally, it should be done daily and not just before working out. Make sure to consistently loosen up tight muscles and maintain that flexibility for day-to-day activities.
Put On Music That Pumps You Up
Listening to music during a pre-workout routine can be an ideal way to prepare yourself for the day and the workout. Music is not only fun to work out with but has become almost essential to exercise for some people! Scientific research has shown that music is a great tool for exercise, both physiologically and psychologically. People’s natural instinct to match their movements to the rhythm of the music, or their rhythm response, works great in tandem with physical activity.
Scientists have found that music triggers electrical activity in the parts of the brain that are also responsible for movements, such as the supplementary motor area, cerebellum, basal ganglia, and ventral premotor cortex. While everyone has different music tastes, researchers have found that almost all people preferred faster-paced songs while exercising. They found that the music helped the individuals maintain a consistent tempo during their workouts and boosted their moods, allowing them to train harder for extended periods.
CBD as Pre-Workout
Over the years, since hemp was legalized, CBD products have begun to work their way into the world of sports and exercise.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in the cannabis plant that does NOT produce the euphoric “high” feeling that THC does. It has many benefits that can assist with workout recovery, soreness, and possibly related injuries. Some of the benefits that cannabidiol products provide are relief from discomfort and soreness, sleep enhancement, and relaxation. Many athletes have started to use CBD ever since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp products. Even at the professional level some mention that CBD has helped them with post-workout recovery.
Furthermore, cannabis-related products are becoming allowed within major sporting organizations like the NBA. CBD works by reacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system is responsible for many of the body’s functions, such as sleep, mood, appetite, and memory. CBD can activate receptors in the body that support the ECS. Activated receptors allow the body to maintain homeostasis or equilibrium, and promote overall wellness.
Although there is no direct correlation between CBD and higher athletic performance levels, promising research has examined a connection between CBD and fitness. While its full effects are still being researched, it is entirely possible that taking CBD during the pre-workout routine can improve performance significantly. If CBD can promote muscle recovery, why can’t it be used as a workout supplement?
Final Thoughts – Pre-Workout Routines
Many fitness trainers will tell you the importance of having a pre-workout routine because working out is more than just going to the gym or running around the hiking trail. Fitness starts from the moment you wake up and ends the moment you wind down and go to sleep. Establishing that pre-workout routine can not only maximize your workout efficiency but also set a health regimen for the rest of your life.