In the athletic development process, the warm up may be the most important aspect of you training. It sets the tempo for your session, and although they are found to be quite tedious it is integral part of your workout.
The goal of the warm up is to prepare the body both physically and mentally for exercise or competition. Warm ups should not just be about raising core temperature and heart rate, the objective is neural activation and getting everything firing to prepare for your session ahead.
You should incorporate movements similar to the movements of your sport. Focus on dynamic stretching (mobility drills) as it does not seem to elicit performance reduction effects of static stretching.
I would also suggest using a foam roller. Foam rolling is basically the poor man’s personal masseuse. This self myofascial release or self massage, allows athletes and gym goers alike to use bodyweight to apply pressure to areas around the body such as knots, sensitive areas and large muscle groups in preparation for their work out. A small investment in a good foam roller may be a smart investment in injury prevention and a decrease in the number of soft tissue non contact injuries.
High carbohydrate meals fuel our bodies so they will be ready for action. During the night you can deplete your liver glycogen, the source of carbohydrate that maintains normal blood sugars, and when you start a work out with low blood sugar you will fatigue early. So it’s important to fuel before a morning workout.
If I’m doing an early morning workout, I might have a small bowl of porridge before bed and then just some fruit when I wake as I don’t like eating much before a morning workout but this varies from person to person.
If you’re exercising for longer than an hour then a pre exercise snack with a little protein and fat for sustained energy such as a poached egg on toast or peanut butter sandwich are good sources before your workout.
Some people like to use a pre-workout supplement. One I use, but only if I’m feeling really tired is the Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy which I take 20-30 minutes pre workout. This Amino Acid is blended with caffeine and is generally good for people on low carb diets and can give you an extra boost.
That boost is enough to help you through a session but not an aggressive boost where you might punch a puppy if it looked at you the wrong way. But it should be remembered you need to stay hydrated so staying on top of your 3-4 litres of water a day is crucial for any serious athlete to replace fluids youve lost while sweating.
Post exercise recovery and regeneration is key to achieving the most from your work out. Also known as the silent workout, it is an essential component of training and can often be overlooked.
Adaptation to training occurs during your recovery which involves a restoration of nutrient and energy stores and reducing muscles soreness. After training I will take a whey protein shake which helps build muscles and minimize muscle breakdown.
But if protein are the blocks for muscle building then carbohydrates lay the foundations, something people tend to dismiss. Carbohydrate intake post work out helps refuel the muscles and boost blood sugar levels.
After a tough field or gym session, fruits, sandwiches and recovery shakes with a mix of carb and protein start the refuelling process. A meal containing a carbohydrate and protein source should be eaten within one hour of your finished session.
Low fat chocolate milk is another great recovery source. It represents a more nutrient dense beverage choice for people who partake in strength and endurance activities compared to traditional sports drinks. The combination of carbohydrates, milk proteins, fluid and electrolytes promote recovery and rehydration better than sports drinks. I would suggest to those looking to gain weight to take regular milk along with their protein shake instead of water.
Stretching post training helps remove waste products such as lactic acid and assists in returning muscles and joints to their normal length and mobility. Research has shown water based strategies such as contrast showers (cold to hot) and ice baths reduce inflammation and speed clearance of lactic acid from muscles.
As regards ice baths, although evidence is unclear if they work, I recommend them and a two minute time period will help with recovery. Compression clothing such as SKINS may reduce blood pooling in the legs and these garments help compress muscles supporting blood flow. However, along with your diet, sleep is the most important recovery tool as it recharges muscles and the nervous system.
Tips for Pre and Post Exercise
Fuel accordingly for both. Never train on an empty stomach and replenish glycogen stores post workout; Take warm up and cool down serious. Plan it as part of your workout. Include foam rolling also; Get enough sleep. Avoid caffeine late at night, power nap after lunch if you’ve trained before and get at least 8 hours of sleep a night; Remember milk is an excellent recovery source. Get some!
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