Suppose you’ve made the smart move to incorporate regular workouts into your weekly routine. In that case, you’re already making some significant life choices. By exercising regularly, you’re doing great things for your physical, mental and emotional health. But what if we told you that your workouts could be even more effective if you followed a few simple tips and tricks? Keep reading to find out how everything from natural supplements like CBD drops to properly timed and portioned meals can make a difference.
1. Make a Workout Plan
Fail to plan, plan to fail goes the old saying. Before stepping into the gym or setting up the weights in your home gym, you should have a clear idea of what you’re doing. Planning your workout sessions allows you to target muscle groups and makes for more efficient use of your time. If you’re stumbling from the bench press to a row machine back to some dumbbells and then over to who knows what … well … you’re not going to see the same results you would otherwise. And you’ll be wasting a lot of precious time. Plan each workout ahead of starting them, so when it’s go-time, you’re ready to rock it out.
2. Review Your Last Workout
Keeping track of your workouts is essential. Review your previous plan and any notes you made about weights, times, or distances achieved the last time you did the same exercises. Also, keep in mind what you did previously. Reviewing previous exercises allows you to make decisions about what will work best in your next workout. Maybe you want to up some weights and go heavier to bulk up a little? Perhaps going lighter but for more reps is what you need? Did you set a personal best for distance on the treadmill, and now you’re looking to smash it? All of this matters and will make for a better training regimen.
3. Get in Touch with How You’re Feeling Today
We all have off days. And we all have on days. What kind of day are you having today?
- How did you sleep?
- Are you stressed? Hungry? Tired?
- Are you energized? Eager? Caffeinated?
Being in touch with how you’re feeling before you start your routine can definitely help you decide what you’re going to do. For example, suppose you’re feeling really tired and just generally off. In that case, it might be a day to go lighter on the weights to avoid injury. However, if you’re feeling like a million bucks, maybe it’s time to add another plate. Be honest with yourself to achieve the gains you want and avoid sidelining yourself with preventable injuries.
4. Don’t Eat Too Heavily
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends appropriately fueling your body before you work out with a meal two to four hours beforehand in an ideal situation. Complex carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fats and fiber should all be included. What does that look like? A plate of brown rice, a cup of black beans, a bit of avocado, and a helping of broccoli is just one example. Eat a reasonable portion, but not too much. Otherwise, you may risk feeling heavy and bloated during your workout. You’ll also want to avoid unhealthy fats, such as anything breaded and deep-fried, as an example.
Most folks know to bring a bottle of water with them to the gym. But how many of us are drinking the right amount of water beforehand? By staying hydrated throughout the day, you’re giving your body the best chance to perform properly during your workout. As a result, your muscles will work better, and your body will cool itself better. Also, you’ll avoid chugging huge amounts of liquids that may cause a queasy feeling as you work out.
6. Time Your Supplements Appropriately
When it comes to supplements, there are many options available. Knowing when to take them is vital. Improperly timed supplement use may rob you of their benefits or even hurt your workout. For example, creatine has specific protocols on when it should be ingested throughout the day, including before workouts. But a little research will go a long way, here, and there is a lot of info available for popular supplements like this one.
Other options include using natural supplements such as CBD for athletes. While most folks take their CBD capsules or drops post-workout, some use CBD topical cream beforehand. That’s because it helps with muscle and joint aches, leading to a more effective workout.
7. Do an Active Warmup
Simply put, this is doing a little bit of exercise before you do your main workout. But why? To raise your body temperature and get your system going. By incorporating an active warmup into your pre-workout routine, you’ll be increasing your athletic performance and helping your body avoid injury. As your body temp goes up, the oxygen and blood flow in your system increases. This makes muscles and joints a little more pliable and ready for the more intense activity you’ll throw at them next.
Active warmups don’t need to be long or involved. A quick job on the spot, some jumping jacks, a few standing toe touches and a dozen bodyweight squats, and you’re good to go. But you can also customize it to your routine and the exercises that will follow. For example, if you’re going to spend the day focusing on shoulders, toss in some shoulder rotations. Keep it simple!
When you stretch before your workout, you’re generally doing yourself a solid. That’s because it helps to keep your muscles flexible and improves your range of motion. This will keep you from injuring yourself by ensuring your muscles are strong, healthy and ready for the work you’re about to throw at them.
It’s important to stretch correctly. Make sure you’re not overextending, jerking or pulling your limbs or torso. This can damage your joints and lead to injuries. Also, you don’t need to over-stretch. This isn’t a cool-down. Incorporating some stretching into your active warmup is a good idea.
9. Use a Foam Roller or Massage Ball
If anything feels especially sore, tense, tight, or knotted, you should definitely grab a foam roller or massage ball before your workout and roll it out. For anyone who’s used either of these tools, you’ll know this can be an intense and painful experience. But the relief you’ll feel afterward is more than worth it. Even better, you’ll be avoiding straining your body further and fending off chances of injury.
10. Make a Workout Playlist
There’s nothing worse than popping in your earbuds only to realize you have no idea what music you want to listen to. Then you become distracted, hopping around from song to song and maybe even genre to genre.
Setting yourself up a quality playlist of tracks that you know will get you hyped is essential. It removes an annoying distraction and, at the same time, gives you the energy you need to see your workout through to the end.
And if you find yourself in different moods depending on the day or kind of workout you’re doing, set up multiple playlists. For example, maybe you love to lift to hip hop but running to Mongolian folk-rock is your thing? Or is it Jonas Brothers each day, every day? Whatever your jam, set it up beforehand, so you’re ready to go when it comes time to exercise!