With there being multiple factors that affect how you perform during your workout, it is crucial that we do a better job to take care of the ones that we can control. One of the most neglected and overlooked factors is how much sleep we consistently. With out the recovery that takes place during that sleep, the proper muscular and cellular repairs are not being done. When it happens too often, that person is setting themselves up for injury, as they are more achy and stiff, besides the lack of energy and focus.
The next thing that is often neglected is the nutrition aspect, which is very important. Too often I’ve had people not be able to finish a workout because they got dizzy or felt sick. When asked the last time they ate, most of the time it had been 5-7 hours.. way too long! Of course we don’t want to workout right after a full meal, but it is important to think of food as our fuel. Nutrient timing plays a key part in how we function and perform, especially in an active lifestyle. So if it has been a while since the last meal, and you've got a workout coming up soon, simple snacks can make a big difference in performance. With that being said, some individuals have certain diet restrictions or respond to certain foods differently so it is important to figure out what works best for you.
Another key factor in preparation for exercise is the warm-up process. There has been a few times that I’ve heard someone say “can we just skip the warm-up? Its just extra work..” At the same time, even if it wasn’t being said out loud, it has sometimes been the attitude towards warming up. I can’t stress enough how import this process is for mobility and injury prevention!
On top of that, individuals with former injuries and or a lack of mobility/flexibility need to be putting in extra time to get their bodies ready to get the most out of each workout. Otherwise, the first 10-15 minutes of the workout becomes more of a warm-up because the muscles and joints aren’t ready to step up the intensity without causing damage. Then, by the time your body is feeling warm and loose enough, the workout is probably close to being done. In the end, you feel unsatisfied and didn’t get the most out of your workout.
Last, but definitely not least, is mental preparation/attitude. In a high majority of our workouts, we will be somewhat tired, stressed, or distracted with something going on in our personal lives… we are humans, I get that. But, we also owe it to ourselves to not waste the time we set aside to get stronger and healthier. No matter what we have going on in our personal lives, If we are able to make it to the workout, then when need to be able to find a way to “flip that switch”.
While that switch is flipped, we remember that the workout is such a small portion of the day, we are not stressing about things from the outside world(because we can’t do anything about it during the workout), and we are focused and determined to properly execute the given movements during exercise. Continuously having that type of attitude translates in mental toughness, which will help us get through any tough workouts and many other struggles that we may face in life.
I know that everyday is a different day and there is no perfect world, but paying more attention to the four discussed factors will make a difference… Not just a difference in how much better we exercise, but a difference in how we take on life with: more sleep, better nutrition, increased functional mobility, and a stronger and more positive mind.