Having a successful workout doesn’t start when you get under the squat bar or pick up a dumbbell, it starts long before you even step foot into the gym. Have you ever had a crappy workout and just didn’t know why? If you have a solid pre-workout routine in place it may be easier to look back at exactly what went wrong and what you need to tweak in order to avoid lackluster workouts. Setting up a smart pre-workout routine will ensure you’re maximizing your time spent in the gym. In this article, I’ll lay out four things you should be doing to set yourself up for success.
1. Get your Beauty Sleep
We’ve all had those nights where we didn’t get enough sleep or the quality of sleep was lacking. The next morning you wake up, you’re groggy, your head feels foggy, you’re in a bad mood and just feel terrible. Getting an adequate amount of quality sleep plays an important role in our muscle-building ability, recovery, and workout quality. When we sleep, cortisol, our stress hormone, goes down and melatonin, our sleep hormone, goes up. This is when our bodies enter repair mode, so it only makes sense that sleep should be our number one recovery tool. Without it, workout quality will suffer, forget about setting PR’s and Pumps you’ll be more susceptible to injury and overtraining.
What to Do For Better Zzzz:
- Avoid caffeine before bed, if you’re a late evening lifter choose a caffeine-free pre-workout such as Animal Pump Pro
- Stick to a sleep schedule. If possible, set a fixed bedtime and wake-up time.
- Block out as much light as possible.
- Keep your bedroom cool, the best temperature for most people is between 68 and 72 degrees
- Get a good quality mattress and pillow
- If needed take a sleep supplement. Animal PM is loaded with herbs and minerals to help support a restful night’s sleep.
2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
A dehydrated muscle is an unhappy muscle. If you want your muscles to work properly you’re going to have to keep them hydrated. It only takes a 1-2% decrease in body fluid to affect exercise performance. This isn’t surprising considering our muscles are made primarily of water. Dehydration can also cost you muscle since it can negatively impact muscle growth and recovery. Limiting fluid intake has been shown to reduce power output, increase rates of fatigue, and increase the risk of injuries. Don’t let dehydration derail your workout, keep them hydrated and happy.
- Drink 17-20 ounces of water before you start training. I’m an early morning lifter so that means starting my fluid intake as soon as I wake up.
- Check your pee! The tell-tale sign of hydration is colorless to a light yellow. When you don’t consume enough fluids, your urine becomes concentrated and turns a dark yellow or amber color.
3. Pre-workout Meal
Properly fueling your body before training will ensure your muscles have adequate amounts of nutrients to perform optimally. We should be consuming a meal comprised of Carbs, Proteins, and Fats 60-90 minutes prior to training. Choose food options that are easily digestible and easy on the GI. The last thing we want to do is train through gas and bloating.
Carbs will ensure we have an adequate amount of glycogen stores. These stores are your muscle's main source of energy. Aim for 0.5-1.5g per kg of lean body mass
- Cream of Rice
- White Rice
Protein prior to exercise has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis, promote muscle growth, improve recovery and increase muscle performance and strength. Aim for 0.4-0.5 g per kg of lean body mass.
- Animal Whey Protein Powder
- Egg Whites
Fats, while you do want to keep fat to a minimum since it slows digestion, a small amount will help keep blood glucose stable. Aim for 0.1-0.2 g per kg of lean body mass.
- Nut Butters: Peanut, Almond, etc.
- Coconut Oil
4. Pre-workout Supplements
Pre-Workout Supplements can be a useful tool in our bodybuilding tool bag. These supplements can enhance endurance, and performance, improve strength, and increase focus and pumps. Sip on pre-workout 30 minutes prior to training. I like to mix mine up and sip it on the way to the gym. Some beneficial ingredients to look for in your pre-workout include:
- Citrulline Malate increases nitric oxide levels which support greater endurance, muscle force, and power.
- Beta-Alanine, helps your body produce more carnosine, which can support training at a higher intensity for longer.
- L-Tyrosine provides increased energy and endurance.
- Creatine Monohydrate plays a role in generating more energy for working cells and result in more metabolites and cell swelling effects.
- Caffeine boosts cognitive function, energy levels, and alertness.
Animal Primal is our most comprehensive pre-workout formula designed for the advanced hard trainer. Since Animal Primal includes caffeine we want to avoid this close to bedtime. If you’re a late evening lifter I would stick to a non-stim pre-workout such as Animal Pump Pro. You’ll receive all the same great benefits as Primal without the stimulants that may keep you up at night and cut into our number one recovery tool, sleep! So, no matter if you’re an early bird or a night owl, we have you covered.
In the words of my man Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do”. You’ve heard it so many times before, but consistency really is key. Creating a solid routine is the foundation of a great workout. Stay consistent, build a routine, and get ready for PR’s and epic pumps!