When it comes to the gym, sometimes showing up isn’t enough. A low energy workout often translates into an ineffective workout. Power lifter and certified personal training specialist, Adam Darrah says that maximizing performance and results is all about how you prepare.
A bad workout comes in many forms. You may feel lethargic, shaky or unfocused—and even if you power through, you won’t likely perform at your highest level.
Unfortunately, those less-than-appetizing recovery drinks won’t provide any solace. Adam Darrah, a certified personal training specialist and power lifter, says that a high-energy and effective workout starts before you even set foot inside the gym.
Here, five pre-workout tips that make for an energetic and effective workout.
1. Catch some Zs
Not only can a lack of sleep affect performance in the gym, it also can have an impact on the effectiveness of your workout.
“Without adequate sleep, your training in an under-recovered state, meaning your muscles haven’t recovered from your previous workout and your doing more harm than good,” Darrah says.
Schedule a bedtime and stick to it, especially in between workouts. On days where you haven’t had enough sleep, try a pre-workout nap.
2. Think big picture
What you eat the day of your workout and that special recovery shake afterword is only a small part of what your body needs. When it comes to energy, Adam says that nutrients absorbed throughout the week is what your body makes use of during a workout.
Don’t tack on nutrition at the beginning and end of your workout. Instead, design a meal plan that aligns your entire diet with your fitness goals.
3. Have something light
Darrah recommends a light meal one to two hours prior to your workout. His go-to pre-workout meal is a couple pieces of fruit and a bowl of cereal. Adam recommends that you find a balanced meal that works for you. Eating too little, too heavy or too much can make for a sluggish workout.
4. Have something perky
Coffee! Caffeine is the active ingredient in most pre-workout supplements and science says it works. A 2015 study conducted by the university of Georgia found that athletic endurance improved in a majority of participants after the use of coffee.
Adam Darrah also recommends coffee as the safer alternative. “There’s a lot of supplements out there and you don’t know what half the ingredients are,” Darrah says. “Coffee is definitely a great pre-workout (drink) and it’s definitely the safest.”
5. Have a plan
It’s not enough to just show up. Having a workout plan not only allows you to target specific muscles, it also helps you to make the most of your time at the gym. The plan should include the order of your exercises and specifics like reps or the amount of time spent on each circuit.
“You should already have your workout laid out before you get into the gym,” Darrah says. “By the time you get into those gym doors you should be thinking about how you’re going to execute it.”