What you should do before or after working out is one of the most asked questions in the fitness industry. This is for a good reason, as we spend most of our time outside the gym. To make sure you are being healthy and progressing, everything needs to work in conjunction.
Questions range from taking supplements, and drinking energy drinks, to yoga. In this article, we are going to knock the bottom out of 4 frequently asked questions. These are questions we have received on numerous occasions.
First, let us discuss what we want to achieve before working out, and then what’s important after working out. Subsequently, we will get to the four questions on what you should do before or after working out. There is no perfect answer to these questions, and anyone who says so is simply a liar. We will get down to the truth of every question, and empower you to make your own decision on what you should do.
What Do We Want to Accomplish Before and After Working Out?
Before we dive into our questions, we need to gain an understanding on what is important for each period. This way we know we can maximize our workouts and recover optimally.
Before Working Out
What is important to get done before our workout? Let us take a look!
The first thing we want in check before working out is our sleep. This obviously goes for after working out as well.
It is vital that you prioritize your sleep, so you can have enough energy to kill your workout. Not only that, but your hormones will be unbalanced if you are lacking sleep. Thus, the amount of nutrients your body is able to move through its bloodstream is affected.
As a result, your body’s ability to produce energy is harmed. Additionally, your mental focus is affected too.
According to most studies, 7-10 hours of sleep is recommended for optimal health. This is the time when your brain and body rests and recover. The average American averages less than 7 hours of sleep a day. If you are not sleeping enough, nothing will work optimally. Your mood will be affected, your energy and sharpness, as well as your workout progress.
Enough sleep is required to do anything great. How much sleep is optimal for you, is something you have to experiment with yourself.
Some people are fine with 6-7, while others need 10. Even Albert Einstein is said to have slept 10 hours a day, that big brain probably needed it!
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Just like a car cannot run without oil, your body cannot function without water. This might seem obvious, but most people actually do not drink enough water. The consequences of dehydration include degradation of exercise performance, and even a decline in cognitive processes (Backes; Fitzgerald, 2022).
A simple way to see if you are dehydrated or not is simply to check the color and smell of your pee. Yellow color and a strong odor means you most likely are pretty dehydrated. When your pee is clear and barely smells anything, you are hydrated.
With this in mind, chug that water down! Before, during, and after working out. The only time you might not want to drink or drink much less, is close to and during your meals. This way your food can digest properly.
In the same way as with water, food and nutrition are necessary for your body to function. Your overall food intake matters, not only what you eat right before, but we will focus on the pre-workout meal. Usually, we want this meal about 2-3 hours before working out. Whether to add carbohydrates or not is dependent on the workout, when you workout, and the type of exercise you are performing.
Ideally, you already want your glycogen stores filled up before working out.
Glycogen is used to give you energy quickly during intense workouts. The pre-workout meal is your last chance to store up glycogen.
Before slamming the weights, we have to prepare our nervous system for the workout.
If you have been sitting at your desk all day, don’t expect your body to be ready to push heavy weights right away.
We want to make sure the blood is flowing and our muscles are able to efficiently contract during our workout. Read THIS ARTICLE for more specific information on warming up.
After Working Out
As you can understand, much of what is important before working out also matters after working out.
Being healthy is a 24/7 commitment, what you do at each moment of the day contributes to your wellness.
Without repeating ourselves too much, we will highlight a few things of importance after working out.
Right after our workout, we have overloaded our muscles and nervous system. This is the time to relax, and let the body rest. Rather drink tea and read a book, than coffee and stress about life problems. Nutrition, hydration, and sleep are crucial after working out as well. No recovery tricks or hacks can make up for this.
Preferably, you want to eat most of your carbohydrates for the day after working out. About 60-90 minutes post-workout. The reason is, that during this time the body will soak up more glucose over fat tissue.
When you train, insulin-dependent glucose is stimulated, which allows you to eat larger amounts of carbohydrates without being stored as fat.
Lastly, a lack of sleep and hydration will impair your muscles’ ability to repair themselves. Remember to always stay hydrated and try your best to consistently get appropriate amounts of sleep. As we can see, how we adapt our lifestyle is significant to our health.
1. Should I Take L-Glutamine Before or After a Workout?
Now that we have discussed the important factors to consider before and after working out, let us get to the questions.
Glutamine is an amino acid in our muscle tissue. It is actually the single most abundant amino acid we have in our muscles.
Sometimes it is advertised as Glutamine, others times as L-Glutamine, but it is essentially the same supplement. It can be an important factor if we utilize it around our training.
For instance, it can assist if you are eating a low amount of carbohydrates, and your glycogen levels are low.
In this case, Glutamine will help refill your glycogen stores. Moreover, if you have workouts that produce a lot of lactic acid, it can help clear out metabolic waste from your kidneys.
Preferably, Glutamine should be taken during or after exercise. About 5-10g is sufficient for most people.
2. Should I Drink Bang Before or After Workout?
Believe it or not, this is a pretty frequent question we have been receiving. As you might know, Bang is a popular energy drink within the fitness industry. The question really is, should you drink an energy drink before or after exercising?
This honestly depends on you, your goals, and desires.
If you want to prioritize your health and progress in the gym, it might not be a good idea to overload your body with caffeine after working out. As we said, this is the period where we want to rest and recover, caffeine does the opposite.
But then again, do you want to drink a Bang because you simply enjoy it, and you worked out first thing in the morning? Maybe on your way to work? This is for you to decide. It is your life and your body.
Is it worth living a life that is too serious and strict? You now know the facts, and can answer that question for yourself!
3. When Should You Take BCAA Before or After Workout?
While glutamine is the single amino acid we see the most in our muscle tissues, Branched-Chain Amino Acids are the most plentiful type of amino acid in our muscle tissues.
BCAA’s act as building blocks for protein and our muscles.
The three types of BCAA’s include Isoleucine, Leucine, and Valine.
These are essential amino acids, which means our body can’t make them on its own, and we need to get them through our diet. They count for about 40% of the essential amino acids we need from our diet.
BCAA’s can help reduce soreness in the muscles and also help with energy and mental focus, especially on low-calorie diets. Moreover, they have proved to assist with protein synthesis, prevent muscle breakdown and improve insulin response.
If you take BCAA’s during training, it can prevent muscle breakdown by using the BCAA’s for energy instead of breaking down muscle. This is mainly during a caloric deficit. However, after training, they can help initiate protein synthesis and improve insulin response.
A higher insulin response means you can take up carbohydrates better.
This means BCAA’s can be beneficial before, during, and after working out. When you should take them is your decision, which is individually dependent on you and your training goals.
4. Should I Do Yoga Before or After a Workout?
The last question we are answering in this article is the question of yoga. Should you do it before or after a workout? Yoga is a calming, breathing exercise, yet can be strenuous on the body. In yoga, we mainly focus on stretching.
Many people believe stretching is important for progress before or after working out, but this is actually a myth.
It won’t necessarily help you build muscle or lean out. Not to say it doesn’t have an application, but do not think it will help you grow muscles.
However, can it be helpful for you before or after a workout? Definitely. If you enjoy getting mentally ready for a workout by doing yoga, by all means, go ahead! Even though some studies have shown a decrease in performance by stretching before working out, think for yourself.. How much will it really matter? You can make a study prove anything.
Also, if yoga helps you calm down after exercise, amazing. This is the time when we want our bodies to relax and recover. Whether you should do yoga before or after working out, won’t impact your progress much.
More important is your consistency with a great diet and exercise plan. Moreover, that you enjoy what you are doing.
Like with most things, it is very individually dependent. You are the best decision-maker for yourself!
Overall, we have discussed what you should do before or after working out. Additionally, we have answered four questions that we frequently receive on this topic. Generally speaking, what you should do before or after exercise is very individually dependent. Of course, nutrition, sleep, and hydration are vital regardless of exercise or not. If we don’t have these factors under control, our body and brain simply won’t function optimally. Now that we have given you the truth on this topic, it’s up to you to decide what you should do.
Thank you for reading our article!
– Terry Asher
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Now is the moment for our bodies to relax and get some much-needed rest before continuing on.