Oftentimes, when talking about their workout routine and how it helped them reach their fitness goals, people only refer to their time spent inside the gym and rarely speak about the rest. Truth be told, if you don’t have a solid pre- and post-workout routine, your efforts won’t pay off as much as they should. On the other hand, if you learn what to do before and after a workout, you will be able to tweak your routine to obtain the best results possible.
Many fitness experts say the actual workout part is, in fact, the easiest aspect of a fitness routine. You learn how to do the exercises, you go to the gym or to the park, and you start working out. But that’s just an hour or two of your day, which represents about 4 to 8% of it, so there is no way this small part is more important than the remaining +20 hours.
Aspects such as your warm-up, what you eat, how you relax after a workout, and how hydrated you keep yourself are all aspects that matter tremendously to your fitness efforts. These small but healthy habits are often what make a workout routine succeed or not. Below are eight things you should include in your fitness routine if you want to improve your results.
Keep hydration levels up
Hydration is very important when it comes to your overall health, but it is even more crucial for developing a fitness routine. Sweating makes you lose a lot of water, so you need to make sure you are properly hydrated before starting the workout. This will also boost your energy levels, helping you get to the end of that final round without feeling completely drained.
You need to ensure you are sipping water before, during, and after your routine, to keep energy levels high. In regards to how much water you should drink, this depends on your body weight. Ideally, you should aim for half the number of your body weight, but in ounces. For example, a person weighing 160 pounds should drink 80 ounces of water.
Give your body some fuel
The human body works on a very simple principle. If there’s enough food coming in, there is going to be enough energy going out. With that said, a pre-workout snack will help you get that energy kick you need to put your body through the entire routine. [READ: 10 Juices To Lose Your Weight In A Healthy Way]
You don’t need to force yourself to eat, as you don’t want to be full before your workout either, but a simple snack such as a piece of toast with almond butter or a small veggie toast should be enough to keep you from feeling you are about to starve while doing your push-ups.
Wear the right gear
The clothes and shoes you are working out in matter a lot for your comfort, mobility, and flexibility. The type of gear you should use depends on the type of exercise you do. For example, wearing a fitted sports bra may not matter that much when you are doing yoga or a light workout, but if you are running or jumping all the time, it will make a big difference.
The same goes for your sneakers. Comfortable footwear will boost your running endurance and make for a more enjoyable routine, as you won’t feel your feet are being squeezed and made uncomfortable.
Never skip your warm-up
This may sound like a no-brainer, but never ever skip your warm-up before a workout routine, no matter how light it is. Warming up helps your body stretch, giving it the chance to reach the desired temperature and range of motion before you put it to work. This helps decrease the chance of getting injured during the workout, as you are not forcing your body to jump from a resting state straight into full action.
Cool down with some stretches
Stretches are not only useful for warming up but also for cooling your body down. After finishing your workout, you need to bring your body back into a resting state so that you can go on about your day. These stretches will also help improve joint mobility and provide a better range of motion.
The difference between warm-up and cool-down stretches is that each pose you do after a workout should be held for about 15 seconds before moving to the next one.
Give your muscles time to heal
If you just went through a hardcore workout, give your body enough time to heal before putting it through more activity. This will allow your muscles to recover and prevent soreness. You can use a heat rub to soothe and revitalize tired muscles. All athletes and sports enthusiasts use these products to protect their muscles and prevent injuries after extensive physical effort.
You can also enjoy a post-workout massage if you have the time to do it, or you can stick to the heat rub, which you can gently massage into the body for a similar effect.
Eat a healthy snack
If a pre-workout snack is optional, a post-workout one is mandatory. It gives your body the necessary fuel to recover after physical activity and get back all the nutrients you lost during the workout.
After working out, your body craves carbohydrates and proteins, which help it rebuild muscle strength. This is why, if you don’t eat a post-workout snack, you can easily end up feeling both tired and hungry, and we all know that’s never a good combination. Anything from a nut mix to a bag of fruits or a vitamin-packed smoothie should be enough to get you back on track.
Do light exercise on recovery days
It is advised that you give your body enough time to heal after an intense workout, but active recovery may be more beneficial than slouching on the couch on your rest days.
Active recovery means engaging in light exercises in the days you don’t go through your normal routine and can involve anything from walking to swimming or doing yoga. This will boost blood circulation, prevent lactic acid buildup, and free your body of toxins.
‘This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.’