Preparation is key.
While the main event gets all the glory, preparation is the backbone for any viable feat, from marathon running to bodybuilding. As the great (and often times violent) Bobby Knight once said “Most people have the will to win, but few people have the will to prepare to win.” With that being said, what is it the optimal way to prepare, what’s the optimal way to prime your body to get the most out of your workout and your genetics?
While everyone is different, we’ve come up with 6 staples pretty much everybody (and we do mean every body) should do before undergoing a heavy workout.
“I eat for function, not for taste”, listen to Jay Cutler. Before a significant workout you want to eat a mix of carbs and protein. You’re meal plan however doesn’t have to taste like complete cow dung however – try eating some toast with almond butter, chop up some fruit and put it on top.
Fruits like bananas and apples work well because they’re complex sugars, which digest slowly, giving you a steady source of energy. As for timing it’s up to you. An hour is standard time but the key is to know how YOUR body works. We can give out the best tips but ultimately – everyone is different.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that active people drink 20 ounces of water prior to exercise. While hydration varies on age, weight, and multiple other factors, if you want to prevent, fatigue, dizziness, and cramping you probably want to sip on some water throughout the day. Chugging it all at once can actually cause you to become sick by stripping you of vital nutrients, or at the very least cause multiple potty breaks. Moderation is key.
We know not all top athletes do it – but let’s just say unless you’re a perfect genetic freak… you probably should fit stretching into your routine. Stretching before a workout is vital to getting the most out of a session. Muscle fibers can get tangled, knotted, and sore – you want to ease the fibers and get them as close to prime time condition as possible. Before your next workout try using the foam roller before your next workout. Yes it hurts and it’s a little annoying but it will pay massive dividends when you can get it that extra set pain free.
Review your workout
Reviewing your workout is key. Besides getting you more organized so you don’t forget a set, it also mentally prepares you for the lifts you’re about to do. Also, it allows you to focus solely on the workout at hand without having to spend any mental energy worrying about what’s next. This is all about mindset. This might sound obvious but don’t get distracted by other life issues. Review your routine. Get in the zone. And make sure each and every rep counts.
We know “manly” men don’t do cardio, but guys who want to be fit do. In this ever forward changing world – the idea that cardio is for “sissies” is a silly concept. A short aerobic warm-up not only increases muscle temp, blood flow, and core temp, but also warms up your tendons. Try jumping on the rowing machine for 10 minutes at a moderate pace. It will give you a little perspiration and prevent injuries. Many may fear that the cardio will cause weight loss and shrinking muscles… but that’s why you keep it simple. Don’t over do it. It’s a warm up people. Not a race.
Drilling focuses in on functionality. You want to go through all the muscles groups you will be using in your main workout with little to no weight. This gets your body warmed up and primed for the exact motions you will be using. Think of this as a combination of an aerobic workout and stretching. It’s a great way to get your body primed for some real gains later on.
There you go. The staples you’ll need before a big workout. Tweak the list above according to your body and level of fitness.