Preparing for any type of exercise workout is virtually as important as the workout itself. Without the proper mental and physical preparations, your body and mind will be ill-equipped for the demands that successfully performing a workout require.
Preparing for a strength training workout is actually very easy. It involves ensuring proper rest, having the right mindset, wearing the right clothing, hydration and warming up. Following these considerations, you’ll be prepared to enter the weight room with confidence and log a solid, highly productive strength training workout.
- Ensuring Proper Rest before a Workout
When individuals finish a workout, they often base their satisfaction on how thoroughly fatigued their bodies feel. After all, the point of strength training is to thoroughly fatigue the muscles so that they’re forced to rebuild with greater levels of strength, mass and density. However, this is what’s supposed to happen after the workout, not before it.
Instead, it’s important to ensure a proper amount of rest the night before your strength training session. For most strength trainers, this means getting approximately 8 hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep. Of course, this is a case where listening to your body and knowing what works for yourself individually is of crucial importance.
- Having the Proper Mindset and Avoiding Distraction
The overall productivity of your strength training workout will largely depend on your frame of mind and your ability to focus. When you begin a strength training session, you should be thinking about the exercises you’re about to perform, their proper form, the muscle groups you’re looking to target, and how the exercises will help you make gains in muscular mass, strength and density.
It’s also important that you strive to minimize distractions during the workout itself. This means turning off your phone, telling those who depend on you that you need an hour to yourself, and disconnecting from services like Twitter and Facebook, if only temporarily. Since the nature of distractions varies so much from person to person, only you can know the proper procedure for minimizing them.
- Appropriate Clothing for Strength Training
Another important pre-workout consideration is what you’ll wear during your strength training session. As a rule of thumb, you should strive to wear clothing that is loose enough to not become caught in the equipment and tight enough to not impede your natural range of motion.
- Pre-Workout Hydration
Staying hydrated is of crucial importance to strength trainers. Without proper hydration, your body will have a much harder time transporting nutrients, oxygen and water to your cells, which will diminish your energy levels and reduce the effectiveness of your weight training session. Water also provides lubrication and padding to the joints and soft tissues of the body.
Since weight training places a high level of stress on the joints, it’s extremely important that they function optimally. Water also assists with digestion, and the absorption of nutrients into your blood stream.
In order to prepare for your workout, you should drink water throughout the day rather than waiting until you’re thirsty. If you guzzle water immediately before a weight lifting session, you may feel bloated and sluggish. Instead, it’s better to hydrate yourself gradually and continuously in the hours leading up to your workout. Keep a bottle of water on hand during your workout and sip in between sets, or as needed.
- Warming Up Before a Strength Training Workout
Before you begin your actual weight training session, it’s important to first warm up. Warming up is different from stretching, and should take place before your stretching routine. The purpose of a warm-up is to raise your body temperature and increase the flow of oxygen and blood throughout your body. This will prepare your soft tissues for the rigors they’ll face during your strength training session.
In order to properly warm up, perform a light cardiovascular activity for roughly 5 to 10 minutes. This may involve jogging on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike, jumping rope or performing some other aerobic activity you enjoy. Feel free to change your warm-up activity with each strength training session you perform. If possible, make the warm-up routine appropriate to the muscle groups you intend to target with weight lifting.
Some of the benefits of warming up include the following:
- Increased body and muscle temperature
- Increased dilation of the blood vessels
- Increased oxygen levels in the blood stream
- Faster cool-down period after your workout
- Increased range of motion
- Improved mental focus
- Increased secretion of hormones