Whether you bodybuild, perform aerobic exercise, or do some combination of both, make sure you are fueled beforehand. It often will make the difference between a lackluster workout and an unforgettable one. With the seemingly endless pre-workout products available, it can be challenging to know what to use before your workout. Below are a few guidelines to help ensure you have the energy to get through your workout and achieve the results you want.
1. Make Use of Creatine
Virtually every supplement company in existence makes some variation of pre-workout powder. However, creatine is one of the best-researched and most effective ways to prepare for a workout. This supplement is somewhat unique, as it has been shown to support muscular power and growth, but it also works as a nootropic and supports cognitive performance.
Traditional wisdom holds that taking five grams of creatine before your workout is the best creatine powder supplementation method, but some research suggests that also taking it post-workout can improve muscle mass and muscle strength. Regardless of when you take it, though, creatine will improve your explosive power for sprints and heavy lifts. This is because it works to regenerate adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which is the body’s main source of cellular energy. This is because creatine supplies an extra phosphate ion, which attaches to adenosine diphosphate, or ADP. This forms ATP, which means that your body will have more energy to carry you through even the most demanding of workouts.
2. Eat a Mix of Carbs and Protein
While many lifters and other athletes make sure they consume a fast-absorbing protein immediately after their workout, the pre-workout meal is extremely important to performance, recovery, and results. If you are hoping to maximize both power and endurance over the course of your workout, eating a pre-workout meal with a mixture of complex carbohydrates and lean protein is an excellent way to do so.
Of course, your exact physique and performance goals will dictate the precise contents of your meal. For instance, if you are a bodybuilder going through a cut, you may reduce the carbohydrate content of your pre-workout meal. If you are an endurance athlete preparing for a long cycling event, you may emphasize carbohydrates over protein. It is a good idea to keep fat intake somewhat low immediately before working out. Fat slows digestion, and because you want your pre-workout meal to be put to use quickly, it’s best to save higher-fat foods for post-workout.
Generally speaking, for best results, you should eat your full pre-workout meal two to three hours before exercise. If you need to eat closer to your workout time, it may be necessary to eat a smaller meal prior to exercise and then eat a larger meal afterwards.
3. Careful Use of Stimulants Can Help
At this point, it is important to add the disclaimer that stimulants are not for all exercisers. Those who are unusually sensitive to stimulants or who have cardiac issues may do best without stimulants. However, if you are able to take them, using stimulants mindfully can improve both physical and mental performance. If you’ve ever lifted when you were distracted, you understand just how vital mental focus is to a successful workout.
If you decide to use ephedrine, caffeine, yohimbine, or another stimulant prior to exercise, build up slowly. Taking too much of a stimulant can increase your heart rate. This can possibly increase blood pressure. Just the right amount can help you power through your lift or cardio workout even as you start to fatigue.
In short, while planning your workout itself is important, your pre-workout fueling is crucial to achieving your results. When you are optimally fueled, your workout itself will be better. You will find that your recovery is smoother and that you can get back in the gym faster than ever. So fuel up and go kill that workout, girl!