Pre-workout routine: 7 habits to maximize your exercise gains

A well thought out pre-workout routine is indispensable for anyone who takes exercise seriously

beautiful young woman in gym with headphones | pre-workout routine concept

A good pre-workout routine isn’t limited to a few stretches before starting your reps. Indeed, it starts long before you step into the gym, sit on the mat or hit the road. Things like proper nutrition, sound sleep, and other pre-workout regimen allow you to ensure you’re adequately preparing your body for exercise and getting the most out of it.

Whether you want to lose weight, gain muscle, or simply remain active, it’s worth your effort to instill habits that make your time at the gym worthwhile.

In this article, we will discuss the pre-workout habits you should incorporate into your routine to get the most out of every workout.

Pre-workout routine: 7 habits to maximize your gains

1. Prioritize sleep

Getting enough sleep is one of the most important pre-workout habits. If you don’t get adequate sleep the night before, you won’t be able to perform as well in the gym. Prioritizing sleep is imperative because sleeping is more than just getting some rest. Sound sleep is essential in order for your body to restore functions such as temperature regulation, immunity, hormone levels, and more. All of these directly affect your energy levels and thus, your workout.

Sleep is also vital in maintaining a healthy body weight because of its ability to balance hormones that control hunger and for the production of human growth hormone. Without adequate rest, you may just undo all of your hard work in the gym by overeating throughout the day.

If your body isn’t fully recovered from working out the previous day, you won’t be able to exercise effectively. Aim for 7 – 9 hours of sound sleep every night to ensure that you are able to perform your best.

2. Plan ahead to be consistent and eliminate guesswork

Most of us have busy schedules and fail to plan for workouts. When morning workouts aren’t possible, we may skip exercise altogether and this impedes our progress. This is an easy trap to fall into and can be avoided by simply planning ahead.

Remember, consistency is key when it comes to working out, and research has shown that there are no significant differences between morning and evening workouts. Instead of skipping workouts altogether, individuals should focus on consistently working out at a time that suits them. If an evening workout better suits your schedule, embrace it and stick to it.

Another way to plan ahead is by preparing for your workout mentally. Going over your routine and knowing in advance what sets and how many reps you have to do will eliminate guesswork and prepare you for a good training session.

It also makes your workout more efficient since it helps you save time instead of trying to figure out your next move after every set. Being aware of your routine ahead of time also helps you gauge how much you should eat, drink, and what you should wear to the gym (See point #5 below).

3. Eat wisely

Food acts as fuel for your body and provides you with the energy required to work out. If you don’t feel like having a pre-workout snack, you don’t have to force it. Every individual is different and has different dietary needs.

On the other hand, if you feel hungry, don’t ignore your body and deprive yourself of food. As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t be starving, but you also shouldn’t be full since eating too much before exercising can make you feel sluggish.

A small meal or a quick pre-workout snack should be eaten anywhere from one to three hours before your workout. A part of eating wisely involves knowing exactly what to choose. Carbohydrates and lean proteins are the way to go before a workout. This can include anything from Greek yogurt to chicken, fish, and beans.

A quick snack that works for most people is a piece of toast with either peanut butter or almond butter on it. Many athletes engage in ‘carb-loading’ before exercise since this can help endurance and increase performance.

4. Hydrate

We cannot stress the importance of staying hydrated enough. Staying hydrated prevents muscle cramps and dizziness, while also ensuring your energy levels are where they should be. Since exercise involves a lot of sweating, it’s vital to ensure that you’re making up for the water you will be losing.

Water is especially important because body cells cannot synthesize energy without it. Dehydration can be extremely dangerous since it results in your cardiovascular system working harder and raising your heart rate higher than it should be. Since dehydration can inhibit performance and thermo-regulation, staying hydrated throughout the day and pre-workout is essential.

Water needs vary between individuals, but you can always check to see if you’re dehydrated by checking the colour of your urine. If it is dark, it means that you aren’t hydrated enough and need to increase water levels.

5. Wear the right outfit

A good workout isn’t possible if you are feeling uncomfortable and uneasy in your clothes or footwear. Besides, it’s also a safety issue as poor choices of clothes and footwear could lead to injury or even mishaps.

Young women wearing sports shoes in a gymGive some thought to what you will wear, which will depend on several factors such the ambient conditions where you are planning to work out, the type of work out you intend to undertake and your own body type. Aerobics, swimming and running, for instance, needs form-fitting outfits and, for women, a sports bra is a must. Yoga and strength-training, on the other hand, require comfortably loose outfits. Yoga also needs a good, stable mat for performing the asanas well. For your shoes, you could get insoles online for a more comfortable feel.

6. Warm-up before every workout

Despite warm-up being essential, people usually either skip them or rush through them. Both practices keep you from getting the most out of your workouts and leave you feeling stiff and sore. Preparing your body with dynamic stretches is integral since it helps with form and posture.

Warm-ups also reduce the likelihood of you getting injured and prepare your body for a larger range of motion so that you get the most out of each movement. This is because you’ll be able to recruit more muscles during your movement. Therefore, if you want to increase blood flow, range of motion, and flexibility, and avoid muscle tension and injuries, always warm up and before a workout.

Another way you can warm up is by using a foam roller. Some people leave this until after their workout, but it is best used as a pre-workout routine since it prepares your body for movement. Spending up to one minute for every area helps iron out any kinks in the muscles that you’ll be using during exercise.

7. Create a Playlist

Music can turn any workout into a more exciting one since it can have a psychological effect on you and pump you up. When creating a playlist, make sure to aim for fast-paced songs. Studies have continuously shown these increase performance and intensity. One study showed that that listening to music during a workout makes exercise much more enjoyable. Songs that have 120-140 beats per minute (BPM) have been shown to be the best for exercise.


A well thought-out pre-workout routine is indispensable for anyone who takes exercise seriously. Sound sleep, thorough warm-ups, proper nutrition and appropriate clothing & footwear are all important considerations. Integrate the above ideas into your daily workout routine to reap benefits and get the most out of exercising.

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