How to make your workout worth it
Are you making the most of your workout?
Whether you’re a total fitness junkie or hit the gym on a more casual basis, there’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush after a sweaty workout and the even bigger adrenaline rush after seeing results from all your hard work.
And while you may have mastered your squats, deadlifts, and chest presses, the reality is that many of us haven’t mastered a routine pre and post workout, and this can be detrimental to our success.
In fact, how you treat and move your body before and after a workout is equally as important to the end result, no matter what your goals.
So to avoid sabotaging all the work you’ve put in, we spoke with personal trainer, powerlifting coach and non-clinical nutrition advisor, Maddie Graham, on the lifestyle tweaks you can make to optimise your workouts and get the results you deserve.
Before your workout
Should you eat before a workout?
While some people prefer to train on a fasted stomach, Maddie suggests eating approximately 2-3 hours before a workout to help ensure you have the best possible workout and don’t run out of energy.
The best food to eat before you train according to Maddie? Carbs!
“Before you train, consuming quality carbohydrates is essential because your body converts this energy into glucose for immediate energy.” And don’t worry about eating too much before a workout, as anything not burned during your workout turns into glycogen for stored energy.
Caffeine and exercise
If you frequent the gym you may have noticed people drinking coffee right before or even during their workout. This begs the question: should you have caffeine before a workout?
“Caffeine works by engaging activity in the central nervous system which gives you that feeling of being more alert and awake,” Maddie explains. Similar to pre-workout supplements, coffee gives you that extra buzz before you train and helps some people get in the right mindset. “It is generally a personal preference. If you feel as though you work better with that caffeine hit, go for it!”
But if you prefer not to risk jitters mid-squat, Maddie says there’s no reason to incorporate caffeine into your training routine. “I don’t think it is generally necessary in order to ‘lose weight’ or have the ‘perfect workout.’”
After your workout
Having a nourishing meal after a workout is very important for replenishing and repairing your body so it can properly recover.
When eating post-workout, Maddie says you should focus on carbohydrates and proteins. “We want to consume protein to help with protein synthesis (creating new cells),” she explains. “And we want to consume carbohydrates to replenish muscle glycogen.”
And while the old trope of eating protein immediately after a session won’t do any harm, Maddie says it’s not completely necessary. “Once your training is complete, have a whole food meal within 1-2 hours.”
Recovery and movement
We know, we know. You just finished a workout and now we’re saying you have to move even more?!
But as important as eating is post-workout, stretching and moving your body in the right way is equally integral to your recovery too. Maddie’s suggestion? Foam rolling.
“My favourite is myofascial release, also known as foam rolling.” She explains that foam rolling has become increasingly popular amongst industry professionals and gym-goers alike because of three main reasons. “It is easy for everyone to do by themselves, it isn’t complicated, and it works across the largest muscles in the body such as the glutes, quads, hamstrings, lats and pecs.” Essentially, it’s a good bang for your buck.
Maddie recommends spending a few minutes on each muscle group and to keep the rest of your body relaxed while rolling out.
Staying on track day-to-day
While a sweaty gym sesh may help you stay motivated for the day, many of us struggle staying on track during days we don’t train.
If you fall into this category, Maddie has a simple suggestion. “Ask yourself, ‘How can I be even more healthy today?’ The reason I say this is because you will find opportunities to be active and choose nutritious foods by just constantly asking yourself that question.”
Keeping this question top of mind makes getting and staying healthy feel much more achievable. “When you acknowledge this question, you will find it easier to be healthy which will allow you to reach your goals quicker!”
Do you have a gym routine? What things do you do pre and post-workout to ensure you feel your best?
Main image via @maaddiegraham