Some of you are aware that, in addition to being a personal trainer and owning a gym, I do concrete construction. Recently, as I was planning my day, I realized how important it is to factor in everything you do outside of the gym into your exercise program. It’s all part of preparing for your workout. It’s easy for most people to compartmentalize their lives, separating out work from the gym. For me, though, it’s impossible. The work I do is extremely physical and, at the peak of the season, I’m outside in 80, 90, even 100-degree temperatures during the day. Then, at night, I have to be in the gym to train members or teach a TargitFit class.
Most people have the luxury of choosing whether or not to work out if their day was especially brutal. The problem is, if most of your days are like mine, it’s easy for you to fall out of the exercise habit altogether. With some forethought and pre-planning, however, you can make sure that you’ll feel good enough to work out and that your body is up to the challenge.
The majority of the planning you need to do is to look ahead at what tomorrow will be like. An example from my life looks like this: I will be pouring a driveway and stamping it during the hottest part of the day and will be scheduled to teach a class later that night. That means going to bed early enough to get at least 8 hours of sleep, eating a breakfast that includes carbs and protein, making sure I make time for lunch, bringing a supply of water with me for the long, hot day, and grabbing a snack of saltine crackers to help replenish the sodium in my body that I will most certainly be sweating out. That grueling day actually happened, but I made it through and you can, too, if you prepare yourself ahead of time.
Are You Tired, or Just Feeling Lazy?
You can’t always control the amount of sleep you get. You may hit the sheets in time to ensure 8 or 9 hours of shut-eye but, if you don’t fall asleep right away or if you toss and turn all night, your energy will be low the next day. Additionally, even if you get a full night’s sleep, your activities during the day could drain away all the stores you have built up. It’s not just physical work that will do it, either. Desk jobs that require a lot of focused attention and thinking will drain you mentally which can fatigue you as much as a construction job.
Before nixing your workout for the day, ask yourself why your energy is low. If it’s truly a lack of sleep or over-exertion then maybe it is a good idea to give yourself a break, provided you don’t have a group of people waiting at the gym for you to drive them through a workout. If it’s just that you had a stressful day, push yourself through and at least go for a jog or work through a two body part resistance training workout. As the Courier-Journal points out, getting your blood flowing is probably all that’s necessary to drag you up out of the mental fatigue funk and energize you enough for a full workout. Don’t be surprised if you end up feeling better and more alert after exercising.
Get Some High-Quality H2O
You’re going to sweat up a storm during an intense exercise workout program, so you’ll be in a heap of trouble if the day’s activities prior to working out have already dehydrated you. According to Livestrong, exercising dehydrated can cause reactions such as cramps, muscle spasms, seizures, or even heatstroke. What’s more, Baylor College of Medicine points out that waiting until you’re thirsty before you take in fluids is inadequate; once you feel thirst, you’re already dehydrated. Instead, take a tip from the American College of Sports Medicine and begin hydrating several hours before working out. Regularly drinking water throughout the day and downing a sports beverage containing electrolytes before working out is a solid plan, especially if you’ve been active all day long.
Fuel Your Body, Fuel Your Workout
Maybe you’re not tired at all. Your lack of energy could be due to not eating right before exercising. If you work out at the end of the day, you have all day long to eat right but, if you work out first thing in the morning, it’s still best to break the fast you’ve been on all night long to facilitate an effective workout. Eating “right” means getting enough carbohydrates as well as protein. If you didn’t eat nutritiously throughout the day or if you’re exercising in the morning, Eating Well has some recommendations for fueling your workout. Peanuts, brown rice cereal or toasted oats, dried blueberries, pumpkin seeds and chocolate chips will all combine to make a tasty trail mix that’s energy packed with protein and carbs.
Train Hard, Stay Clean!