If you're going to work out, you want to make sure it's effective and helps you meet whatever goals you have, right? I know if I'm challenging myself and putting in a lot of effort, I want to see some results—whether that's feeling more toned and stronger, getting myself in a better mood thanks to endorphins, or having an added boost of energy. There are a couple of things you can do to get the most out of your workout, and one of those things is prepping beforehand. Yes, your pre-exercise activities can make a difference.
And it's not just stretching or getting some fuel before a workout; prepping also involves getting enough sleep, planning out your workout, gathering everything you need so you have it on hand, queuing up your playlist, and more. I asked the experts for their best pre-workout tips, which they shared below. Consider these before you head to the gym, studio class, or at-home sweat session.
1. Get Rest
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2. Make a Plan
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Gunnar Peterson, celebrity trainer and chief of athletics at F45, recommends locking in the time, and if you're going to a class, book that session once you know you're available—he says to treat it like an important meeting/job interview/flight. He also makes a workout plan, too. "I am a planner. If I am training on my own, I write it out," he says. "If I'm training with a friend, I send ideas so that we maximize our time. If I'm taking an F45 class, I book it the day before and get there early! Win the mornings, you win the day!"
And when you're making a plan, being consistent rather than doing a crazy-intense session is key. One of the mistakes Peterson sees people doing is planning a "fire and brimstone" session to make up for indulging a little too much. "One workout doesn't counter any one specific health transgression," he explains. "They are of course intertwined but not necessarily connected. Stay in the game on a regular basis, and you'll always win. It's hard to be the boss when you are only a part-time worker."
3. Turn Up the Music
And don't forget to plan your music or whatever audio you want for your workout beforehand so you're not trying to find the right songs or podcast episode mid-workout.
4. Pack Your Essentials
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"Pack what you need the night before. Day-of prep can lead to slip-ups," Peterson says. So get your gym bag ready, place it by your front door (or even inside your car), and then you won't really have an excuse to not go.
5. Wear Clothes That You Feel Comfortable In
Sometimes, a cute outfit is what's going to get you out the door. A least, it works for me. So make sure you've got something on that makes you feel comfortable and confident. Saint-Louis suggests wearing clothes that move well and that you feel good in.
6. Fuel Up
"Ideally, pre-workout snacks consist of primarily carbohydrates to boost energy as well as a little protein to benefit recovery," says Kim Bowman, MS, CNP, F45 Challenge nutritionist. "The key to quality carbohydrate consumption is to choose quality, unrefined carbohydrates instead of processed forms. Smoothies are an excellent source of energy before a workout, as they provide an immediate fuel source. The blending process cuts down digestion time for the body, which means that all of the nutrients packed into a fruit smoothie can be quickly metabolized by the body and used for energy."
And Bowman says you'll want to stay away from any large meals right before your sweat session: "Consuming a large meal that is high-fiber and/or high in fat right before training (<30 minutes) can lead to feelings of fatigue or sluggishness during training as these require longer digestion."
"I'm sure it sounds repetitive, but it is truly critical for the body to be hydrated to be able to operate at its fullest capacity," Coleman says. "Specifically, your bones and joints can be impacted from dehydration, and things like muscle cramps are more likely to occur that hinder your ability to move freely."
8. Put Your Phone Away
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No distractions! If you don't absolutely need your phone during your workout, put it somewhere that's out of reach so you're not tempted to look at it. Peterson recommends stashing it in your locker if you're at the gym or at a studio.
9. Get Excited
Sometimes you can be dragging your feet to work out, and while that's normal, you'll probably want to find something that can motivate you or get you excited for the upcoming activity. Saint-Louis recommends reminding yourself that you're about to feel better as a result of your workout session, and it's "me" time—time to focus on yourself.
She also suggests having a specific task or goal attached to the workout. "This really helps with motivation and compliance over time—it will get you excited to show up and see what you're capable of that day," she adds.
10. Find Something You Enjoy Doing
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"Find a workout you enjoy. When something brings you joy, you are more likely to complete it and improve your self-efficacy," Coleman says. "Why choose a workout that already feels like a struggle before you have even completed it? Where's the excitement or energy in that?"
11. Take a Moment
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"Before my workouts, I take a moment to listen to my mind and body through deep breathing," Coleman says. "This allows me to center myself and mentally prepare for the physical work my mind and body are about to endure. Furthermore, if I ever start to feel overwhelmed during a workout, tuning back into my breath helps me refocus and listen to what my body is specifically telling me in that moment. Breath is obviously our driving force in all that we do, and it's where I start each of my classes or training sessions with a client."
12. Warm Up
"Warm up correctly!" says Coleman. "I always point clients to dynamic stretching before their workouts to help their muscles work optimally for them during it! Save the static stretching for the end."
Saint-Louis also suggests foam-rolling major muscle groups to relieve any surface tension from your day.