You know the feeling. One minute you are amped, motivated and walking into the gym like Superman and then suddenly, right at the start of your workout, you are huffing, puffing and wondering what the hell is causing you to move and feel like Eeyore. While we would all like to believe that consistent, hard workouts alone will yield infinite energy for future sessions, sometimes this sluggish feeling creeps up without notice, killing your mood and your gains. But do not fear. This depressing state doesn’t need to be a reality. Proper pre-workout preparation as well as some easy lifestyle adjustments is all you need to keep your superhuman fitness powers alive and energy reserves in place.
Tip #1 – Minimize beer or wine nights and stay hydrated
I’m not hating on nightcaps – I am a big believer on its necessity – but too many within a week can affect the quality of your workouts, leaving you dehydrated and sluggish. Rather than regularly giving into wine nights or beer fests to “take the edge off”, try a more long-term, anti-stress approach by drinking plenty of water. Benefits of water include an improved mood, a natural flushing of toxins and relieved fatigue. Most of us have heard of the “8 by 8” rule (eight glasses of water per day), but the Mayo Clinic and Institute of Medicine actually recommend 9-13 cups daily (depending on your level of activity, temperature and diet). A good way to break this up is to drink two glasses with breakfast, one with a 10am fluid-rich snack (like fruit), two with lunch, two with dinner and two before you hit the bed (also with a fluid-rich snack). This may seem like a lot at first, but this schedule is an effective way to spread out your fluid intake and develop a habitual routine.
Tip #2 – Eat slow-digesting carbs prior to workout sessions
Without getting to “sciency,” the body extracts energy from three primary sources made up of carbohydrates, fat and muscle respectively. Eating slow-digesting carbs (paired with protein) 1-2 hours prior to workouts, ensure that the body has a spread of energy throughout your sessions. For an early-morning workout, toast with peanut butter or oatmeal with a protein shake are a couple good options and for night owls, a fruit smoothie with Greek yogurt works wonders.
Tip #3 – Engage in activities that lower stress
While it is common and even normal to feel stressed out from time-to-time, allowing the little violin to play too long affects your health and energy. While there are multiple ways to reduce stress, an easy way to neutralize the issue is to take 10-15 minutes to meditate, breath and write 4-5 specific, productive/helpful activities you did throughout the week as proof that you’re a rock star. I also make it a requirement to watch comedy shows or humorous YouTube videos whenever the ugly feeling wants to creep in and drain my energy.
Tip #4 – Incorporate caffeine as pre-workout fuel
Believe it or not, caffeine is one of the best pre-workout sources you can use to boost energy prior to your fitness session. Obviously, proper measurement/amount is necessary to avoid addiction, withdrawals and the dreaded jitters. About one cup of coffee is all you need for a good effect and for all you natural foodies, a cup of hot black tea also provides a light boost to your metabolism and energy, ensuring you remain in beast mode.
Like a machine, the body requires careful attention and fuel to ensure that it performs at its best during workout sessions. A lifestyle of proper hydration, anti-stress activities and effective pre-workout foods/drinks help to minimize the issue of sluggish fitness sessions. What are some additional tricks you use to improve a lack of energy during your workouts?