Even if you workout once a day or just hit the gym a couple of times a week, here are some workout-strengthening tips that can be added to your exercise routine:
Before a Workout:
Water—Always stay hydrated! It is important to avoid dehydration later on in your workout. Drink lots of fluid 30 minutes to 2 hours before you start exercising.
Food—Never eat a whole meal before a workout, but also never exercise with an empty stomach. Instead, stick to small snacks to get the right amount of nutrients. In order get enough energy and endurance for a hardcore workout, you need quality carbs, lean protein, and heart-healthy fats. Our muscles rely on carbohydrates like breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fruits, and veggies for quick energy. We need protein for our blood cells, which bring nutrients and oxygen to our muscles.
An ideal meal before working out should consist of the following qualities: low fat, low fiber, and moderate in carbs and protein. For example, try eating a grilled chicken sandwich or a Caesar salad with fruit on the side. Stay away from fried food, greasy food, or soda!
Stretch—Always try to do a quick stretch if possible before an intense workout. Stretching the arms and legs are usually enough to prolong your workout without feeling tense and stiff.
During a Workout:
Sports drinks—Hydrating yourself with one of these beverages is a good choice when going for a run outdoors, especially when the temperature and humidity are high. However, be careful when reading the nutrition labels. Drinks like Gatorade and Powerade typically include a lot of sugars. If you’re concerned, water can always be a good substitute.
After a Workout:
Cool Down—After your last exercise, your workout is not over. Doing light cardio for a few minutes brings your heart rate down at a slow, steady pace. Walking on a treadmill for 5 minutes is an easy way to cool down in order to avoid sickness afterwards.
Stretch Again—Stretch for about 10 to 15 minutes. Doing some yoga poses can reduce soreness and stiffness. This allows muscles to rebuild and relax.
Usually after a workout, you want to keep hydrating your system, but food wise, stick to something light. After working off all of those calories, the last thing you want to do is eat something that will gain those back. A light yogurt or granola bar is usually a good choice.
By Shelley Cheung