Preparing to lift weights is not something that should be taken lightly as there are many different avenues that need to be thoroughly planned so as to achieve maximum results from the workout: warming up/stretching, and pre/post workout nutrition.
Warming up and Stretching
Prior to any weightlifting workout routine it’s best to thoroughly warm up the specifically targeted muscles of that day, allowing for the area to increase in blood flow, causing a ‘warm’ sensation around the muscle and connective tissues.
Warming up can consist of simply doing a light set or two of the specific exercise prior to the actual working sets in the training session, or a pre-workout warm-up wherein dynamic movements can be used to ‘loosen up’ the specified area without even touching a weight.
Arm swings, side bends, trunk rotations, and leg swings are just some of the exercises that can be incorporated prior to a training session to properly increase blood flow and prevent injury.
Lifting weights causes muscles to contract so it’s easy for them to simply tighten up and in the long run they can even ‘shorten’ so as to make it even more difficult to improve full range of motion. Stretching is the one thing that counteracts this as it aims to lengthen and relax the muscles.
Stretching can be done just about anytime around a workout or even during a workout, but one thing that does help is having the specific muscle already warmed up and full of blood so that there’s less of a chance of a tear or injury.
Pre-Workout/Post Workout Nutrition
Lifting weights may provide the spark of the fire that is the healthy physical being, but the pre/post workout nutrition, along with rest, is what makes the fire grow gargantuan or simply smolder.
One of the most important things when training is energy so it makes sense to consume some kind of complex carbohydrate like oatmeal, whole wheat bread, or brown rice an hour or two prior to training so that there’s a steady blood glucose level throughout the workout, producing steady and necessary energy to the lifter.
It’s also a good idea to add some type of protein like whey powder, fish, turkey, or chicken so that the lifters muscles don’t experience muscle catabolism wherein the muscle starts to get broken down and used.
Post workout should contain some type of simple sugar that can be processed quickly into the bloodstream, as well as some type of protein powder so as to allow the muscles to absorb as much of the protein and amino acids as possible.
Protein shakes are great for post workout as one can add a piece of fruit like a banana or a couple strawberries,and some protein powder (and maybe even add creatine or glutamine for a little extra recovery power) so that the muscles can recover fully from an intense weightlifting session.