Whether you are hitting a wall or racking up recovery time, it may often seem that you aren’t getting the most out of your hours in the gym. These four pre-workout tips are sure to boost your performance, courtesy of Hudson Valley fitness professionals Jodi Berkowitz, Peter Marino, and Suzzanne Gomes.
Preparation for a workout starts long before you even step foot into the gym. If you exercise early in the morning, a good night’s sleep is necessary to be alert and perform well—but Berkowitz says even if you hit the weights later in the day, getting sufficient sleep will do wonders for a workout. Get those recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night, and you may instantly see your workout results improve.
Trainers urge their clients to eat a light, healthy meal before a workout, and can’t believe how many show up to the gym on an empty stomach. Without the required fuel to power the body, a workout can be over before it even starts. Berkowitz recommends a mix of carbohydrates and protein (wheat toast, banana, peanut butter, yogurt, and berries) and Gomes suggests a light snack like celery sticks or an apple. Drinking water before (as well as during and after) a workout is also necessary, as it allows you to avoid dehydration, supplying your muscles with oxygen and keeping you energized and focused.
Marino recommends taking a branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement before workouts, especially if you exercise early in the morning. This will help prevent excessive breakdown of the muscles, as the body is in a fasting state overnight. BCAA’s are known to support muscle growth and will bolster your overall workout.
Trainers have long debated the advantages of different types of stretching. Berkowitz says static stretching—the classic form you likely did in gym class as a kid—can actually make muscles more ineffective in a workout. Both Marino and Gomes say dynamic stretches are the way to go. These can include walking lunges, frog hops, or even a short jog. A brief and dynamic warmup (5-10 minutes) gets the heart pumping, makes you break a little sweat, and puts you on the right foot for a fantastic workout.
This article originally ran in November 2019 and was updated in January 2022.