Are You REALLY Ready For This?


“Is there anything that I should do in order to be ready for my workout?” I assume you mean something more than the obvious, which would be simply showing up for action.  Of course, some contend that the effort involved in making it to their scheduled exercise session is the most challenging part. I hear it said that it is at the very least half of the battle. Indeed, it could be a mighty struggle, for there are certainly more than a few options that offer significantly greater appeal. I am encouraged that you are willing to place those alternative plans aside for now. Your question is a good one. In fact, you are on to something very important. Truthfully, there is much more required of you than merely your physical presence in the gym. Sure, it is a fantastic place to start, but your ability to “finish” will tell us a great deal about your beginning. I often hear students say, “I’m ready as I’ll ever be.” But, I suspect that isn’t exactly true. There is always room for improvement.

Let me expound on that point. How you show up is crucial to your actual workout. No, this does not mean that you need to arrive in a stretch limousine with a lot of fanfare.  You set the tone for your workout, for good or for bad, by what you carry with you. The “good” is not something you have in your workout bag. The potential for a wonderful exercise session is developed the previous night. Certainly, you have heard me preach this sermon before, and will yet hear more from me regarding the absolute necessity for a restful night of sleep. Yes, this is the best preparation in which you can engage. So, please, for your own sake, don’t attempt a high intensity workout if you’ve pulled an all-nighter! If you’ve tossed and turned in bed for hours, you probably feel as if you’ve been run over by a truck when your alarm clock rudely calls for you to begin the day. If this is your clear and present reality, this daily challenge to feel alive, then you must not wait any longer to address your sleep deprivation. You cannot expect to make any progress whatsoever in the gym if you are sleep-walking through the routine. A workout of any level of intensity may cause that light-headed, dizzy, nauseous feeling you are already experiencing to take a turn for the worse. I understand that there is not a instant fix to this issue. Address it the best you can. Ignoring it is no longer an option as you desire optimal health. If you are to function at your highest capacity physically, then you must always prepare for your workout the night before.

Well, if your energy levels are reading empty, realistic expectations should be established. If you insist on going forward with a workout, you are going to have to adjust your routine. Perhaps, you simply need to shorten it. You’ll probably want to consider performing fewer exercises. You may need to lift less weight. Yes, there are days when you must out of necessity lower the amount of resistance you work with when strength training. You should definitely avoid the group exercise environment wherein you always feel the pressure to push yourself harder to keep up with the crowd. Some days this is an excellent motivating force. On these days it may prove to be counter-productive and detrimental to your well-being. The last thing your tired body needs is for someone else to dictate your pace, directly or indirectly. Monitor your body throughout the course of your workout. Be careful when you are tired.  If the negative affects of fatigue are catching up to you quickly, and it gets the best of us sometimes, shut all systems down. Go home! If you give your best effort today, however pathetic you might judge it to be, you will reap the benefits long term. No “best effort” ever qualifies as a poor performance in my book.

What else can you do to prepare you body for a strong workout? Fuel it, of course. Your body’s engine is going to have a very difficult time starting if you have not fed it in a long time. Adhering to your schedule of eating mini-meals throughout the day will allow your muscles to step up and perform whenever the workout whistle blows.  I will never promote consuming very specific foods with X amount of proteins/carbohydrates before or after a workout. I don’t believe in it. If you happen to be in the less than 1% who are competitive, professional athletes, then go right ahead and follow the latest advice being touted by your nutrition experts. I am a proponent of establishing the consistent eating plan first. Our D.I.E.T. is much more important than our time in the gym. So, I recommend that you do not plan your eating around your workouts, but rather the opposite. Eat right. Eat regularly. Fit your exercise session in when you can during the day. Don’t alter your eating schedule dramatically, after you have gone through all the hard work to set it in place, simply because you read somewhere that you have to have this food or that food before, during, or after your workouts. Yes, experiment with your D.I.E.T. because what you eat can make you more than what you are! But don’t stress out about this concept. It is not rocket science. So, to start with, don’t show up to exercise on a completely empty, grumbling stomach. Likewise, don’t gorge at a local buffet and then head straight to the gym.  Eat as healthy as you can. Don’t be afraid of change. Be open to new ideas. Apply the D.I.E.T. approach. It works! For those of you who are unfamiliar with this concept, refer to my article entitled “The Real D.I.E.T.”

Does it go without saying that it is not a good idea to show up for your workout with a hang-over? I would hope so. But, I also hope that you understand the gist of this posting. You can lay the groundwork for a lifetime of “funtastic fitness” by developing good sleeping and eating habits. Anticipate what will occur when you have not appropriately prepared your body. Make provisions for these hopefully rare occasions. Adapt, adjust, rearrange your usual routine to accommodate a body that needs a change of intensity. Hey, why not formulate a plan that calls for frequent variety in your workouts, not just when you are tired or malnourished. For some ideas, check out these articles I wrote: “Spice up your Workout”, and “More Change is Coming”. I hope you find them helpful. Remember this thought: Prior planning prevents poor performance. If you can say that six times very fast without a slip of the tongue, then you are, in fact, ready. Have a great workout today!

photo credit: beat via photopin (license)