Pre and post workout tips to make the most of your gym session

Pre and post workout tips to make the most of your gym session

Healthy on the inside, firm and toned on the outside. When it comes to gym sessions and workout routines, these are the ultimate goals we all strive for.  To maximise results, what you do before and after a workout could help you achieve your dream body even faster. We’ve put together a list of pre and post-workout rituals that you should adopt every time you step into the gym, set off on that run or start that killer HIIT class.


A good pre-workout routine should start long before you start exercising, which means you should plan your workouts in advance (bonus: this will also get you into a gym habit, meaning you’ll stop missing sessions and start seeing results sooner).

Time your food


Making sure your body has all the right strength, speed and endurance fueling nutrients is key to ensuring that your workout game is at its peak. Whilst there are no hard and fast rules about eating before a workout, it’s usually best to have a snack about an hour before you go. Nutrient filled nibbles like bananas, protein bars or toast with peanut butter will provide enough fuel to keep your stamina up, but not so much that you’ll start to feel sluggish, bloated or sick during your session.

Hydration is key


Photograph by Michael Simons

Make sure you get in about 500ml of water before you work out. This will stop nasties like muscle cramps and dizziness from disrupting your exercise. Just make sure to eke out sips rather than drinking it all in one go.

Spend a few minutes warming up

This only has to be 5 minutes and just enough to work up a tiny sweat. Warming up on the treadmill, exercise bike or rowing machine at a low level should be all you need to get the blood pumping oxygen to the muscles, ensuring they’re ready to go when you are. One essential thing to remember is that stretching is not warming up. It actually causes the muscles to tighten and so can increase your risk of injury. It’s best to leave the stretches until the end of your workout.

Make a playlist

It might not seem important, but having a go-to workout playlist is really important and needs to be part of your routine. If your mind’s not in it, your body won’t be.  Finding the motivation for that final push will be much more difficult and the right kind of music can really get you in the zone.  Michael Phelps always listens to Eminem of EDM before he swims; it’s a form of meditation and mental preparation that works really effectively.


Whilst the hardest bit is over, your workout isn’t technically finished until you’ve ensured your body is on the road to speedy post-exercise recovery. Having a great after gym routine will ensure that your hard work doesn’t go to waste.

Invest in a foam roller

Whilst we can’t promise that it will be painless, having a roll after a workout will untie any knots your muscles might have got into as well as increasing blood flow and oxygen supply to the muscles.  This can really help make sure delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a thing of the past. Think of it as a mini sports massage.

Stretch and cool


Photograph by Rui Santos

Now is the time for stretching and cooling down your tired muscles. Focus both your stretching and your cool down routines on the area you’ve been working. So, if you’ve been at the punch bag or going hard on the press ups, a good cool down exercise might be a 5 minute, low-intensity row on the rowing machine to free up your arms and upper body. The same applies with stretching. When combined, cooling down and stretching can relax the nervous system, flush out metabolic waste products (we’re looking at you, lactic acid) and prevent blood from pooling around muscles.


We know we keep banging on about it, but water is, quite possibly, the most important thing to put in your body pre and post-workout, as well as throughout the day. You’re obviously going to lose a lot of water when you sweat in the gym, so make sure you keep topping up to ensure you don’t get dehydrated. This will help lubricate your joints and double the speed of muscle recovery (it’s also just good for you all round).

Get some protein


Photograph by Marek Uliasz

It’s recommended that you have a good dose of protein (about 20 grams is recommended) within about 30 minutes of your workout. The most obvious way to do this is with a shake or protein bar and this may be the easiest option if you’re on the go. If you don’t fancy protein powders you’ll also get a nice dose of protein from Greek yoghurt, low-fat cottage cheese or trail mix (just avoid one that has a lot of added sugar).

Of course, no gym routine is ever as effective as it could be if it’s not supported by a healthy lifestyle and all the nutrients your body requires to keep it working nicely. Packing in your Omega 3, with a product like Lion Heart, is a really important part of keeping your body workout ready; it keeps your heart and joints healthy as well as helping muscle recovery, fat burning and lowering inflammation caused by exercise. We’d love to hear about some of your pre and post workout tips and tricks, so please share them with us and our Bare Biology community.

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