A successful exercise regime means more than just sweating it out at the gym. To get the best results, you need to prepare physically and mentally before your workout, and help your body recover afterwards.
Here are eight things to add to your fitness routine for even better results:
Preparing for Your Workout:
Heading into a workout dehydrated takes its toll on your muscles, motivation and energy levels. So up your water intake in the hours leading up to your workout, and don't forget to refuel with plenty of water afterwards, to promote recovery.
Grab a Snack
Eating just before a workout can leave you feeling sick, but enjoying an energy-boosting snack at least an hour before exercising is always a good idea. When it comes to gearing up for a workout, carbs are your best friend.
Try snacking on wholemeal bread topped with almond butter and banana for a slow release of energy.
Workout prep shouldn’t just involve stretching your muscles – you should aim to energize your mind too. Try a simple pre-workout meditation. Whether you do it in your car or on your yoga mat, a meditation session gives you the opportunity to set your intentions, relax your mind, and focus energy into your muscles.
Work in a Dynamic Workout
Some people see stretching as an optional extra, but really a warm-up should be an essential part of your workout. Importantly, studies show that stretching before exercise helps prevent injury.
According to Jessica Matthews, M.S., assistant professor of exercise science at Miramar College, "A well-rounded warm-up routine can help address underlying muscle imbalances and enhance your overall movement quality, while also gradually increasing your core body temperature in preparation for the activity to come.”
Stretch It Out
Just because you’ve worked up a sweat, doesn’t mean you’re ready to leave the gym. Cooling down is just as important as warming up, so make time for some post-workout stretches. You should hold your cool-down stretches for at least 15 seconds to boost recovery and eliminate muscle aches.
A pre-workout snack may be optional, but a post-workout one isn’t. After exercise, your body looks for carbohydrates and proteins to promote muscle protein synthesis and glycogen storage. To boost recovery and muscle gain, make sure you eat a healthy snack or protein shake within a couple of hours of exercising. Here are some great natural supplements that you can incorporate into your post-workout routine.
Take a Cold Shower
After a serious workout, you’re probably desperate for a cold shower. Showering doesn’t just fight the sweat, it also promotes recovery. Taking a cool shower can help reduce inflammation after a workout, in turn decreasing the chances of soreness.
Track Your Progress
Motivation is key to a successful exercise regime, and tracking your progress after a workout can help with that. Recording metrics, including times, distances and calories burned, will help you keep track of your progress – and identify the areas you need to work on.
As you begin to notice an improvement, you’ll be far more likely to keep at it. Just make sure you record everything while you’re still at the gym otherwise you’ll soon forget.
We all know how important getting regular exercise is, but in our rush to fit it in to our busy daily lives, we often forget how important it is to exercise properly. Making sure that your body is well prepared for the work out, and refreshed after it, is essential if you want your fitness regime to fit seamlessly into your life.
Finally, don't forget the energy-boosting potential that superfoods can offer to your workout. Ashwagandha is particularly potent and is often recommended as a supplement to help athletes reach their peak performance.