What you do before your workout and what you choose to supplement with can have a big impact on your training and how quickly you reach your goals. With a bit of careful planning, you can provide your body with the energy and nutrients it needs to power through a great workout, with great results.

Whether you need a short boost to get through your session, or if you want to enhance your overall performance, there are plenty of options out there. From classic pre-workout formulations to additional performance enhancers and nutritional boosters, a pre-training strategy can assist with hydration, provide energy, help with strength, enhance fat burning and mental focus, and increase blood flow. In addition, you’ll get a head start on muscle recovery by supplying the key building blocks for repair and growth.

Creating a pre-workout ritual is a great way to start each training session. The more you do it, the more it will become habit, and sticking to a good routine will help you reach your goals. A sound pre-workout routine will be centred around good preparation and include nutrition and hydration. It may also include pre-workout supplements. Focusing on these will go a long way to ensuring you get the most out of your session.

 

Nutrition.

Eat a large meal prior to working out and you’ll know all about it. To ensure you’re not too full but still have enough energy for your training session, have a small pre-workout meal 60 to 90 minutes before your workout. The nutrients will be ready for your body to use during your training and post-workout recovery.

Your goals and body type will determine what you choose to eat for your pre-workout meal, but ideally it will include protein and carbs to provide some energy for your session and jump start muscle recovery. Avoid high fat or high fibre meals and supplements immediately before training, as they may upset your stomach.

As an active individual, you have a greater need for protein than a sedentary person. Many athletes and bodybuilders prefer to increase their intake using a protein supplement because they’re fast-acting and easy to prepare. A whole food meal can take longer to digest.

Look for a protein powder with high quantities of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) like Horleys Elite ICE WPI or stack your current pre-workout with an amino acid supplement high in BCAAs like Horleys BCAA Max. BCAAs help regulate protein metabolism, increase protein synthesis and suppress protein breakdown. They also help with muscle recovery so you can get back to training faster.

If you’re looking to gain muscle or mass, give your pre-workout an extra boost of fast carbs, which provide energy that is quickly absorbed into the system so you can power through your workout. Meals made using white flour, or that include white rice, cereal and white pasta, can be paired with a fast-digesting protein, such as Horleys ICE Whey, which is a whey protein isolate (WPI). Consider egg whites if you’d prefer a real food option. On the go? Add a banana or some berries to your shake, or use Horleys Replace Sports Drink, which provides readily available energy in the form of simple sugars.

If your goal is to lose weight, skip the carbs pre-workout. If you have fasted cardio (first thing in the morning on an empty stomach) in your workout programme, you may like to take a specialised pre-workout, fat loss or amino acids supplement.

 

Hydration.

It’s important you start your training session fully hydrated to get the most out of your workout. Start a workout even mildly dehydrated and you may suffer headaches, fatigue, muscle cramps, or lowered performance. Working out in a dehydrated state can also affect you after a workout by reducing the body’s ability to repair itself; it can even cause damage to your muscles, increasing your risk of injury.

It’s a good idea to get into the habit of drinking water regularly over the course of the day to help stay optimally hydrated at all times. Drink 500ml water at least four hours before training, and an extra 200-300ml 15 minutes before your workout.  Take a full drink bottle to your session and sip regularly.

For most workouts under an hour, water will generally be enough but endurance training and events may require extra planning to ensure optimum hydration. The advice above to drink water regularly still applies but in the 24 hours before a big training session or event, sip on water with added electrolytes such as a sports drink. The electrolytes, especially sodium, help maintain fluid balance. Using a electrolyte sports drink like Horleys Replace also provides the additional benefit of topping up your carbohydrate stores.  

Read more about hydration.

 

Pre-workout supplements.

Once you have your pre-workout nutrition sorted, you might want to start looking at pre-workout supplements. The right pre-workout supplement can enhance strength and endurance but it’s important to know what you’re taking. Choose quality supplements from a brand you trust – cheaper brands may contain ineffective fillers or even worse, banned substances.

Here are some guidelines to help you choose the pre-workouts that are right for you:

 

BCAAs.

The Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) leucine, isoleucine and valine are regarded as the most important amino acids for muscle building. Look for a BCAA blend with a higher level of Leucine – research suggests a 4:1:1 ratio of these three BCAAs is ideal for muscle recovery. This is the ratio delivered in Horleys BCAA Max, a pre or intra-workout supplement designed for optimising muscle gains and muscle recovery.

 

Caffeine.

Caffeine (in small doses) has been shown to improve aerobic performance and enhance mental focus when taken as a pre-workout. Caffeine decreases fatigue and provides instant energy to power through your workout. Dosage does vary from person to person, so you’ll need to adjust the levels to find out what works for you.

 

Creatine.

This is a great ingredient for strength. Creatine assists the transfer of energy to cells, helping to saturate your muscles with energy substrates to give you the power you need for those really big lifts.

Creatine in conjunction with beta-alanine has also been shown to increase lean body mass and reduce body fat by increasing your training intensity and volume.

 

Beta-Alanine.

Including this in your pre-workout can enhance muscular endurance through increasing workout volume. More volume, means bigger gains.

 

L-Carnitine.

L-Carnitine is a well-researched supplement that has been popular for more than 30 years. It assists with fat metabolism and can enhance your performance and recovery. If you are bulking up, L-Carnitine is ideal to take if you want to increase your muscle bulk and limit your fat gains. It does this by helping with the transport of body fat to be burned as energy.

Performance wise, L-Carnitine enhances the blood flow to your muscles. This means more nutrients and hormones get to where they are needed most during exercise.

Horleys Acetyl L-Carnitine is ideal if you want to add L-Carnitine to your pre-workout. Each capsule contains 500mg of pure Acetyl Levo-Carnitine Hydrochloride (or L-Carnitine, for short).


Pre Workout Preparation.

Nutrition, hydration, and supplements are all important parts of your pre-workout routine. Put a bit of time into preparation and you’ll have all the ingredients you need for a great workout. Some athletes and body builders like to take a shower to fire up the muscles; others will sit down with their pre-workout shake and plan or go through their workout programme. Check you have everything you need in your gym bag such as a towel, drink bottle, gloves and training programme. If you have a motivational board, take a look at it to inspire you and keep you focussed on your goals.

 

Key Points to Remember.

There are a lot of options to choose from for your pre-workout but your end goal will be the driving force behind what you consume. Just remember:

  • Choose the right balance of pre-workout supplements that suit your goals
  • Eat a small meal 60-90 minutes before your workout
  • Keep your fluids up
  • Keep motivated with a pre-workout routine and positive outlook

 

It’s simple and enjoyable to make your pre-workout routine a part of your everyday life. With little steps like these, you will reach your goals in no time.

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