Before You Hit the Gym, Look at This Workout Checklist
Are you (really) ready to hit the gym?
Use our workout checklist to make sure.
You know that physical activity is important. But do you take it seriously?
As a personal trainer, I’ve seen too many people make the same mistakes on gym day. As a result, they don’t get the results they were hoping for and may even give up on their fitness goals altogether.
I don’t want this to happen to you!
Structured, planned, purposeful training is what will keep your mind sharp and your body strong.
Rather than going through your workout on autopilot, use our workout checklist to make sure that you’ve done all you can to maximize your results!
Before you head out for your weekly workout—whether you’re weight lifting or doing 60 minutes of cardio—ask yourself these questions.
✓ When was the last time I had food?
If you start feeling light-headed or faint due to low blood sugar, you can throw your workout plan out the window. (You would have benefited more by staying in bed or hustling at work.)
We recommend eating 1-2 hours before a training session. This provides fuel for your workout, so we can keep the intensity at the appropriate level. It’s just as bad, however, to train on a full belly. Giving your body a 1-2 hour window gives yourself time to digest your meal so that it can actually fuel you.
If you’re one of the workout warriors who prefer to train in the early morning (5 am or earlier), waking up at 3 am for a bowl of oatmeal might be asking a little much. We totally understand that!
If you want to power through on an empty stomach, that’s your choice. But we usually recommend drinking a big glass of water first thing upon waking, followed by a light breakfast—maybe a 1/2 banana or handful of blueberries. The small amount of fruit can provide quick energy that can help you push a little harder.
✓ How much water have I drank today?
You sucked down that bottle of wine last night and here you are at 6 am with your mouth so dry you’re asking yourself, “Did I chew on a sweater last night?”
Water affects performance, period.
While the whole “eight 8 oz. glasses a day” rule isn’t based on any actual science, this doesn’t mean you can treat your body like a succulent. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your training session.
✓ How did I sleep last night? Lately?
Sleep provides energy to both the brain and body and is key for proper workout recovery. Lack of good quality sleep increases your chances of fatigue and poor focus. Both of which are crucial to your weekly workout!
Take the quality of your sleep into consideration when training.
Your workout plan doesn’t have to be set in stone. If you had high repetition squats on the calendar but you were up all night with a sick child, it may be wise to focus on something a little more manageable. You can always reschedule the big squat day to later in the week.
✓ Did I warm up?
Skipping a warm up is a huge mistake, but so is doing the wrong kind of warm up.
Walk into any commercial gym and watch the sequence of events that take place. People will check-in at the front desk, hang up their keys, and do 10 minutes of cardio on a treadmill or some other piece of cardio equipment. They’ll follow that up with 5 minutes of static stretches or the ever popular foam roller, then dedicate the rest of their workout routine to stuff like lunges, dumbbell presses, rows, and deadlifts.
So what’s the problem? They just wasted 1/4 of their training time warming up for a jog that they never went on!
Make sure your warm up prepares you for the work you are going to do.
A good warm up helps your body transition from one activity (be it sleep, work, or whatever else it is) to your workout. If you’ve been lying in bed or sitting behind a desk for the last 8 hours, your joints, muscles, nervous system, and mindset won’t be ready for intense physical activity.
Here are a few things a proper warm up can do:
• Help prevent injury
• Raise the core temperature of the body
• Excites the nervous system
• Improves the elasticity and the contractile ability of muscle
• Improves efficiency of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems
• Enhance overall coordination
• Gets you mentally focused
• Raise work capacity
✓ Did I cool down?
Your cool down period is just as important as your warm up, and for the same reasons.
If you’ve been going for it with the right amount of intensity, your heart rate will need some time to come back down to normal gradually. Give yourself plenty of time to cool down at the end of your workout before you jump back in the car.
Half-hearted, aimless training doesn’t yield great results.
Use this workout checklist to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to improve your weekly workout!