When it comes to working out, what most of us do is jump right into our gym shoes and quickly leap into a training session. It is almost like a natural tendency, given how we are usually pressed for time and want immediate results. While exercise and working out is great for your body, what we often fail to realize is that there are certain steps that need to be taken before starting an exercise regimen in order to render our efforts worthwhile.

There is a certain pre-workout ritual and numerous precautionary steps that one should follow in order to produce the desired results, reduce the risk of injury, improve muscles and maximize recovery. While the list of things that one can do before working out is quite long, here are 6 important things that you should do before you start working out.

Warm up

According to Jacqueline Kelly, a personal trainer, one of the best ways to avoid injury is warming up. The process of warming up prepares our body for hardcore exercise and elevates the blood flow. It also increases the heart rate and levels of respiration.

You could either warm up with a slow paced aerobic activity like a brisk walk, riding a bike, using an elliptical trainer, etc. Or you could do a quick and easy cardio activity like slow jogging, walking on the treadmill, etc.

Studies also show warming up and stretching leads to increased and improved physical performance and also prevents sports-related injuries. Warm up activities typically prepare the body for more strenuous exercise and also improves flexibility and viscosity of the muscles.

It is also said that our muscles respond better to challenges when they are loose and all warmed up. Therefore, in order for you to make the most of your training session, you ought to spend a couple of minutes warming up.

Eat an hour before training

For you to be able to power through your exercise regime, you need to be fueled up and have the energy to make it to the end of your session without getting queasy. For that, you need to have a pre-workout meal around 60-90 minutes before you start working out. This will give you the stamina and energy to withstand the pressure imposed by all the hardcore training.

Pre-exercise nutrition is extremely important for your health and body as proven by numerous studies that these macronutrients play a very significant role in metabolism, endurance and performance. Studies also show that pre-exercise meals that are rich in carbohydrates, proteins and fats boost performance during the working out and result in beneficial metabolic effects.

Stay hydrated

This goes without saying, have plenty of water and stay as hydrated as you can before you begin working out. Drinking enough water is very important to ensure good health while exercising. Water is not only crucial for overall health but also plays a significant role in a fitness routine. When you exercise, the main way through which your body maintains optimal temperature is by sweating. Sweat production leads to increased fluid loss which is directly proportional to the intensity of your exercise session.

Therefore, you need a lot of water in your body prior to this in order to maintain blood volume, allow muscle contractions to take place and also to regulate body temperature. You should drink around 17 to 20 fl oz. of water two to three hours before you exercise. This will help you remain hydrated throughout.

Get a good night’s sleep

If you are eating right, staying hydrated and your fitness routine is in full swing but you are still not seeing the results you want, chances are that you are not sleeping well. Being well rested and getting enough sleep not only energizes you through every exercise you do but also keeps a strict check on your hunger hormones so all that working out doesn’t go in vain.

A number of studies also show that sleep deprivation leads to severely negative outcomes which may include weight gain, increase in injuries, etc. Sleep is also very important because when you are sleeping, that is the only time when the body is fully rebuilding and healing itself.

So, if your exercise sessions aren’t going as smooth as you’d like, observe your sleep patterns. Are you sleeping 7-9 hours a day?  If you’re doing less than 7, increase your hours and see the difference in results.  

Take pre-workout supplements

Once you have taken care of your nutrition before starting working out, it is time to incorporate some supplements in your fitness routine before exercising. These supplements have become a fundamental element in nutrition programs and also in the fitness industry.

Studies show that ingesting these supplements, especially those containing caffeine, creatine, B-vitamins and amino acids before exercise delays fatigue and also improves muscular endurance. This leads to higher energy levels and improved concentration throughout the session. These supplements provide a good pump for new muscle growth and also key muscle building nutrients and amino acids to working muscles in your body.

Stretch out ten minutes before working out

Just like a warm-up session, stretching is equally essential to relax your muscles. A stretching routine prepares the muscles for increased pressure and strain before the actual exercise session. It also prevents the risk of serious injuries because now your muscles are well-prepared for the task at hand.

Research shows that stretching performed as part of a warm-up routine before exercise reduces passive stiffness and increases the range of movement during exercise. However, you have to make sure you don’t push yourself too hard because overstretching can lead to muscle injuries. So do stretch out, but in moderation and also be gentle.

Since achieving the desired results from working out is not that simple, it is best to follow a particular routine that also includes these pre-exercise steps to maximize results.