Your sweat sessions at the gym are important. They keep you lean and help increase muscle mass. However, you’ve probably gone through plateau periods, during which your weight doesn’t budge, and you don’t seem to get any stronger.
You might even lack motivation some days, going through the motions without really focusing on what you’re doing.
If you’re taking the time to hit the gym, you should put as much effort as possible into your workout. Simply going through the motions may be better than sitting on the couch, but it’s not going to bring you the results that you want.
What you do before you exercise can set you up for an optimal workout and maximize your gains even after you’ve finished.
Prepare Your Mind
We’ll discuss ways to prepare your body for a workout later in this article. Getting your mind in gear is just as important.
1. Meditating Before A Workout
Researchers have found that athletes who meditate before they exercise feel like they focus better during their workouts. They’re also in more positive moods afterward.
In one study researchers had participants engage in mindfulness and relaxation training before taking part in intense interval workout. When they performed both practices, they had less anxiety and felt more positive during and after exercising. They felt more attentive while doing the physical activity after performing mindfulness exercises.
These findings indicate that you can improve your technique and prevent burnout by meditating before a workout. Better focus can help you get the most out of your workout and reduce injury.
The key to making meditation work for you is practicing it regularly. Other studies have found that advanced meditators experience a better response than beginner meditators to exercising after clearing their minds.
Some researchers have even noticed that people’s immune response to physical stress is improved after meditating. In other words, if you exercise too hard, you can reduce your body’s ability to fight germs. Meditating helps you stay healthier even after an intense workout.
One of the easiest ways to get started with meditation is to close your eyes and focus on your breathing for five minutes. When you breathe in, you can concentrate on the feeling of the breath entering your body and filling your airways. Notice the way that your belly expands with each inhales.
When you exhale, observe the way that your stomach flattens. Try to create a continuous cycle of inhales and exhales. Every time your mind wanders, bring it back to your breathing so that you can create a clear, peaceful foundation before you start your workout. You can even do this in the car before you enter the gym.
2. Visualization Before Exercise
Visualization is a useful tool for an effective workout. Competitor Running explains that imagery can have a direct impact on performance. Using all of your senses to visualize yourself doing the physical activity that you’re about to perform can make you do it more efficiently.
Once you become adept at meditating, you can add visualization into the practice. Picture yourself going through the motions of your workout. Observe the sights, smells and sounds around you. Notice the way that your body performs each exercise smoothly.
Make sure that you keep breathing deeply while you go through this guided imagery. This type of mental rehearsal can help you improve when you feel as though you’re doing the same exercises day in and day out.
3. Prepare Your Body
SELF says that you need to warm up even if you’re only planning on doing a 10-minute workout. Preparing your body can get your mind in the appropriate groove for the physical activity that’s coming up. It also sends blood to your muscles to help them become stronger and more limber.
Although some experts say that a pre-workout warmup doesn’t prevent injury, it can increase muscle temperature, which decreases strain and improves flexibility. Other researchers explain that you might feel less soreness and stiffness while exercising if you stretch beforehand. Feeling more agile during a workout can improve your confidence and help you get through a particularly tough session.
4. Proper Nutrition
Many people are concerned with maximizing their post-workout nutrition. What you eat before exercising is just as important as what you consume afterward. According to Bodybuilding, what you eat before a workout can significantly affect your long-term muscle-enhancing goals.
If you have ever worked out on an empty stomach, a practice that is often recommended for people who want to lose fat, you might have noticed that you felt sluggish. When you exercise, your body retrieves energy from glycogen, a compound that is stored in your cells after your body metabolizes carbohydrates. When you run out of glycogen, which is likely to happen if you haven’t eaten before exercising, you may feel like you hit a wal.
Once your glycogen stores are depleted, your body tries to convert fat and protein into energy, according to Livestrong. This takes longer than pulling glycogen from tissues, and your performance may suffer as your body attempts to keep you going. You may even experience hypoglycemia, which can occur when your blood sugar levels are low.
Depending on your metabolism, you might want to consume a meal with clean, low-glycemic carbohydrates about an hour or two before you exercise. This may consist of oats, sweet potatoes or whole grains. Eating some fruit can also boost your blood glucose levels and give you quick-burning energy.
Healthline explains that eating protein before a workout can:
- Improve muscle growth
- Enhance muscle recovery
- Help you build lean body mass
- Increase muscle performance
If you’ll be doing moderate exercise for a longer period of time, you might want to make sure that you eat healthy fats on a daily basis. This might improve your endurance.
5. Consider Supplements For Heightened Energy And Performance
Many people complain that after dealing with the obligations of their daily life, they just don’t have the energy to work out. You can maximize your energy output by taking the right pre-workout supplements before you exercise. Caffeine has been shown to help athletes train at an elevated power level and for longer periods of time. Caffeine is one of the safest performance enhancers.
Other pre-workout supplements enhance different aspects of your performance.
The following supplements can be taken before a workout to achieve the following goals:
- Creatine – This is considered the primary sports supplement for building strength and boosting power.
- Beta-Alanine – This is an amino acid that combats acid buildup during intense exercise and can improve performance during exercise that lasts between one and four minutes.
- Nitrate – This compound, which is found in beetroot juice, can reduce the amount of oxygen that’s necessary to sustain exercise performance, increasing endurance and reducing fatigue
Get Hyped Up
All of the suggestions above are examples of ways to get hyped up before you hit the gym. A combination of physical and mental preparation can give you the energy and motivation that you need to sustain strong performance. If you’re dragging yourself to the gym when you’d prefer to be doing something else, your mind won’t be in the activity, and it will take much longer to achieve your fitness goals.
Something as simple as pumping yourself up can get your blood moving and make you want to go hard. There’s a reason why athletes have coaches. Besides the training knowledge that they impart, coaches cheer you on.
If you don’t have a coach or personal trainer to help you get excited, you’ll have to do it yourself. Listening to fast-paced music, changing into your workout clothing to shift gears and repeating positive mantras can help you get hyped up. You can also post photos of yourself or someone else with your ideal body on your mirror or refrigerator to remind you of what working out can do for you.
An exercise buddy can help you stay accountable and get enthusiastic even when you’re feeling indifferent about heading to the gym. Your mindset is a vital factor in an effective exercise routine. Keep it inspired to get the most out of your workouts.
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