The warm-up is important in any exercise program because it helps you prepare for physical activity and avoid injury. But I believe that conventional warm-up recommendations are not as beneficial as they seem, and may even counteract the success of your fitness plan.
Try This Four-Minute Warm-Up
Certified kinesiologist and exercise physiologist John Catanzaro says that one of the most common warm-up mistakes that people commit is doing aerobics, especially before weight training.
Warm-up aerobics is not only unnecessary, but also takes up a huge portion of your time and energy. A proper warm-up should raise your body temperature by only 1.4 to 2.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 to 2 degrees Celsius), which can be done by only 10 to 15 seconds of muscular contractions.1
Catanzaro also warns against static stretching, especially before weight training, as it will sedate your nervous system and make you weaker. Acute static stretching may even decrease the stretched muscles' strength and power by 5 to 30 percent for as long as 30 minutes.2
The only time you should even consider static stretching before weight training is if you have some extremely tight muscles that need to be turned off. Catanzaro instead recommends dynamic stretching, which can simulate the velocity of your training and will help rev up your nervous system in preparation for activity. Here's a simple dynamic stretching routine you can follow.
|Dynamic Stretching Routine
||Arms Vertical Alternating
Five to 10 reps per movement is all you need. Start slow and shallow, and gradually increase speed and range with each repetition.
By following these recommendations, your warm-up can be finished in about four minutes. Avoid doing too many repetitions, because it will only increase your lactate levels (which may harm your cells and cause health issues) and decrease your strength and performance.
Eating Before a Workout Tips
Remember that what you eat can either add to or subtract from the benefits that you get from exercise. According to sports nutritionist Susan M. Kleiner, R.D., Ph.D.: "When it comes to sculpting your body and enhancing your performance, without a diet to support your training you are wasting your time in the gym.”
There are factors that influence what type of food you should eat to improve your workout, including your personal and fitness goals, health status, and even your gender. In general, fitness expert Ori Hofmekler recommends consuming high amounts of stress-activated food nutrients (SAF nutrients) before exercise.
These are dietary compounds that are produced by live food species in response to stress, and work to protect animals, organisms, bacteria, and plants from stressors such as infection, starvation, radiation, predation, and heat shock.
SAF nutrients mimic the effects of intermittent fasting and exercise. Once you ingest them, they can increase animal and human survivability, and may even imitate the anti-obesity, anti-diabetic, and anti-aging effects of exercise and fasting on the body. Some of the best SAF nutrients include:
- Whey protein from grass-fed cows
- Green tea
- Organic black coffee
- Unsweetened cocoa
As mentioned above, high-quality whey protein made from raw milk from pasture-fed cows is one of your best choices to provide fuel immediately before or after strength training exercises. Whey protein is a great source of protein for building muscle. It makes you feel full while giving you a burst of strength and energy.
I would recommend caution in consuming excess protein as it can increase many diseases. For most it is wise to restrict protein to about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of LEAN body mass, or one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body weight. As an example, if your body fat mass is 20 percent, your lean mass is 80 percent of your total body weight. You can use more on days you do strength training but if you aren’t it would be wise to limit your protein to these ranges.
In this formula, you must first determine your lean body mass. To do that, subtract your percent body fat from 100. For example, if you have 30 percent body fat, then you have 70 percent lean body mass. Then multiply that percentage (in this case, 0.7) by your current weight to get your lean body mass in pounds or kilos.
As an example, if you weigh 170 pounds; 0.7 multiplied by 170 equals 119 pounds of lean body mass. Using the "0.5 gram of protein" rule, you would need 59.5 or just under 60 grams of protein per day.
|100 – % of body fat = % of lean mass X actual weight X 0.5 gm protein = total grams of protein recommended
|Example: A 170 lb individual with 30% fat mass
|100% total weight – 30% fat mass = 70 % lean mass
|0.70 X 170 = 119 X 0.5 = 60 grams of protein recommended
Again, not everyone needs to eat something before exercising. But if you do, whey protein is one of your best bets.3
Consuming Other Fast-Assimilating Foods
According to Ori Hofmekler, author of "The Warrior Diet", fast-assimilating, nutrient-dense foods like green vegetables, vegetable juice, and berries can support your workout routine. If you're doing Peak or Intermittent fasting (which I'll discuss in detail in the next section) along with exercise, these foods are ideal — they will not compromise your fast and may even increase the benefits you get from fasting because they:4
- Are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients
- Target the same genes as fasting
- Induce effects similar to fasting
Since these foods are fast-assimilating, they can nourish your body without taxing your digestion. They also enhance the anti-inflammatory and metabolic modulating effects of your fasting and increase your body's antioxidant defenses against destructive reactive oxygen species (ROS), which tend to accumulate in your body during fasting and exercise as byproducts of fat breakdown and detox.
Fast-assimilating foods also contain nutrients that target the same genes and pathways as fasting and exercise. You can have small servings of whey protein every three to six hours, depending on the level of your physical activity. Or you can consume 8 ounces of berries, green vegetables, or fresh vegetable juice every three to six hours during your fast. Note: Do not mix berries with whey protein, unless you use that blend as a pre-workout meal to support your strength conditioning.