If you’re putting in the work, you want to see results. And that means feeling your best while you sweat it out. There are so many rules out there for what you need to do before a workout, but feeling like you have a long list of to-dos to tackle just to get in a good sweat session can backfire, killing motivation before you start or making you feel as if you’re “doing it wrong.”
That’s why we wanted to narrow it down to the four musts before a workout. Forget fretting about if you’re wearing the exact right clothes (if you’re at home, that matters even less), have the right gear in hand, or prepped in a certain way. Follow these guidelines for better performance and overall health, and energy. Plus, you may just find you can bust out a few extra reps or minutes. It’s time to end your workout feeling like you owned it. You’ve got this.
4 Things to Do Before a Workout to Maximize Results
#1 Determine Your Pre Workout Fuel Game
While it’s common to hear about what to snack on before a workout, the truth is that there’s no right answer. Eating or not eating before a workout ultimately comes down to your unique goals.
Let’s break this down a bit.
When it May Benefit You to Snack Before a Workout
Planning a longer workout, over 60 minutes? You may want to munch on something beforehand.
A review and meta-analysis of 46 studies, published in the Scandanavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports in 2018, looked at research comparing “fed” (eating something prior to a workout) and “fasted” (consuming no calories prior to a workout) and found that having a little something before working out helps boost performance in long aerobic workouts. Food provides the glucose that muscles can tap into for energy during exercise — especially when it comes to that longer run or indoor cycling session. And when you have that energy, you can push yourself harder and go longer for a more effective workout. It’s possible that fasting may improve some metabolic measures, the study says, but so far, past research does not suggest that people who fast before a workout lose more weight or fat compared to those who eat a before-exercise meal. Besides, when you feel good, you’ll get into a workout groove.
The takeaway is that if you’re planning a longer workout, eating a pre-workout snack may be helpful.
Consider trying this FitOn PRO Power Protein Smoothie before your next lengthy sweat sesh.
Power Protein Smoothie
- 1 serving protein powder
- 1 tbsp almond butter
- ½ tsp stevia granules (optional)
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- ½ frozen banana
- ½ cup frozen berries
- ½ cup almond milk, or milk of choice
- ½ cup ice cubes
- ½ cup filtered water
Step #1: Place all of the ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
Step #2: Pour the smoothie into a glass.
Step #3: Enjoy!
When a Pre-Workout Snack May Not Be Necessary
While snacking before a longer workout is beneficial, when it comes to shorter workouts, eating before may or may not be necessary — it comes down to finding what works best for you and what helps you feel your best as you power through your workouts. If you find you’re simply not hungry before a 20-minute workout, there’s no need to feel like you have to snack on something.
On the other hand, if you are planning your workout several hours after your last meal and you’re feeling hungry, this is something to take into account as well. You don’t want hunger to interfere with your workout, no matter how long or how short.
Pre-Workout Snacks & Muscle Gain
One more thing to keep in mind is that if your goal is to gain muscle, then eating before a workout has been shown to be beneficial.
Finding What Works Best For You
The takeaway? When it comes to deciding whether or not to eat before a workout, evaluate your goals and what will work best for helping you crush your workout!
#2 Snooze For At Least 7 Hours
Any exercise done at the time of day that’s most convenient for you is a win. Let’s get that out of the way first. Research shows that a regular exercise routine improves sleep quantity and quality, factors that can lead to a better mood throughout the day, and regulate your appetite hormones. But there’s another big benefit: Sleep enhances athletic performance, improves recovery, and reduces your risk of getting injured or sick. If you’re sick or injured, you’ll have to take the necessary time off to get better, which can compromise your goals. (Not to mention that feeling unwell won’t benefit any part of your day.)
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Just as you make your workout a priority, make sleep one, too. If you’re struggling to hit that 7-hour mark (or know you need more), look at what’s really standing in your way. Is it that you struggle to put down your phone in bed? You might have to relocate your phone to another room and rely on an old-fashioned alarm clock to wake you up. Is it that it’s physically hard to go to bed earlier — you’re just too awake? — bump your bedtime back by just 10 or 15 minutes and build from there.
Also, consider a before-bed guided sleep meditation if you need something to help you unwind before you hit the hay.
Here are three FitOn sleep meditations to get you started.
Trouble sleeping? Try this guided meditation to help quiet the mind and help you drift off into a restful night’s sleep.
A favorite in our FitOn community, try this Sleep Yoga Nidra meditation with DeAndre and experience this beautiful system that’s existed for thousands of years. It’s an excellent meditation to support restorative sleep.
Say peace out to your day and hello to sleep with these soothing mindful mantras focused on peace and ease.
#3 Warm-up With Dynamic Movement
Dynamic warm-ups have been shown to offer a number of benefits, such as fewer injuries, better movement, and more effective workouts. With effective workouts comes greater endurance, more calories burned, and increased strength — it’s a win, win.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), your dynamic warm-up does not have to be long or complex, it can include just a few minutes of activities that get your heart rate up like jogging or jumping jacks, and then dynamic exercises like lunges, leg swings, or arm circles.
Need some guided stretches to get you started? Browse the stretch category in the FitOn app or try one of the options below.
Warming up is important for safety and injury prevention, and this dynamic warm-up is a great one to try before hopping into those more intense strength and HIIT workouts.
Warming up before you work out is important. Move through these dynamic stretches to get you up and ready to go on your next workout.
Stretching is important and one of the most overlooked elements of fitness. Open up your joints and lengthen your muscles with this feel good stretch which will help you take away tension in your body and feel your best. You deserve it.
#4 Check Your Pee Color to Gauge Hydration
Whatever you do, don’t go into a workout dehydrated. Performing parched makes your body work harder, and the added stress from your body struggling to regulate its temperature, get fuel to your muscles, and help your nervous system function makes it unnecessarily tough to get through cardio workouts both physically and mentally, says the ACSM position statement on hydration and exercise. (Think that tired, dragging feeling you get.)
Hydrating starts long before your planned workout. The ACSM advises consuming 5 to 7 ml of fluid per kilogram of body weight starting four hours before exercise. We’ve done the math for you. If you’re 140 pounds, that’s about 11 to 15 ounces of water. Then, check your urine. If it’s still dark, then drink about 6 to 11 ounces two hours prior to exercise. (Urine should look light or pale yellow.) Drinking hours before exercise gives you sufficient time for fluid to get into your tissues. Obviously, if you’re an early morning exerciser, this does not mean wake up in the middle of the night to chug H20, but still make sure you drink about a cup of fluid 20 to 30 minutes before a workout.
Make The Most of Every Single Workout
Every time you exercise, you’re showing up for yourself and making a great decision for your health, so why not make the most of every single workout? Doing these four important things before a workout may help you take your fitness routine up a notch and ultimately help you see better results.
Haven’t joined our community yet? Sign up for free and get access to unlimited free workouts and meditations. From newbie to expert, the FitOn app has a huge library of workouts for all levels. With dozens of workout categories, it’s also a great way to find out what types of workouts work best for you.