Arnob is neither a fitness guru nor a health nut. He is simply someone who wants to lose weight and gain some lean muscles. Hitting the gym for months, he says, he is getting no visible results. The reason behind this could be he did not follow proper steps before and after the sweat.
Losing weight is a 24-hour job. If anyone works out an hour in the gym, it covers only four per cent of the day. The rest of the day is also important. Celebrity fitness trainer Jay Cardiello said, “The workout is the easiest part of a fitness routine.” If some steps are followed before and after a workout, better results are expected to appear faster than ever.
There are days when the body does not feel like going to the gym. And it is because it needs proper sleep. “The most imperative thing in any fitness programme starts the minute you go to sleep where all the magic happens,” said Cardiello. A minimum six hours of sleep is a must before someone even thinks of hitting the gym. It energises the body throughout every sprint or burpee. It also keeps the hormones and muscle growth in check.
When the body is ready for the gym, the next step is choosing clothes that ensure mobility and flexibility. Fitness experts suggest grabbing some pre-workout meal, which is high in carbohydrates, low in fat, and low or moderate in protein. It will help the muscles push harder. However, here is a handy table by Precision Nutrition that outlines the recommendations by goals and body type:
Workout nutrition guideline table by Precision Nutrition
So, the stomach should not be starving. It, however, does not mean to be full, either.
“Warming-up aims to prepare individuals from different aspects: physically and physiologically in an organised and gradual way so as the individual will be able to participate efficiently in the training or competition,” said Dr Homoud M Alanazi, Dean of Community College and Faculty of Sciences and Arts, Northern Border University. It will not just decrease the chance of injuries, but also increase the body temperature and range of motion.
Rehydration is also something that needs to have full attention. “Drinking plain water is better than drinking nothing, but drinking a properly formulated carbohydrate-electrolyte ‘sports’ drink can allow for even better exercise,” said SM Shirreffs, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, UK. Imagine the body as a car that needs oil to get going. Water plays the same role in the human body. So, the importance of drinking water is undeniable.
The most important thing after a workout is – rehydrating. If exercised intensively, the body needs enough water for muscle flexibility and tackling muscle soreness. Cooling off is also important. Take a shower later, if not immediately afterwards.
Mohammad Riad, the runner-up of both Mr Bangladesh and Mr Dhaka, said, “Post-workout meal is one of the most important meals for the day. It decides how your muscle growth would be.” So, a pre-workout meal is more optional than a post-workout one since the body must refuel itself within two hours to get the recovery process started. Grab some snacks and make sure it contains key macronutrients for optimal growth and repair. Caffeinated and sugary drinks should be avoided.
Though the muscle needs recovery throughout the day, some light exercises can be done, engaging the body in active recovery to prevent lactic acid buildup, remove toxins and boost circulation.
Regular exercise is essential. Apart from pre- and post-workout hacks, having the right food at the right time has a tremendous impact on overall fitness. Mashrur Shitab, a student of IUT who also happens to be an avid fitness enthusiast said, “My health is my bank account and good food choices are good investments.” “You are what you eat”, he added. To build muscle, eating calories in surplus is a must, which means eating more calories than burning off each day.
Smart eating is no longer an option; it is a necessity.
Being fit and having a healthy lifestyle cannot be the goals to rush towards. They are not part of a race. They are the destination of this journey. Having patience and focusing on the mentioned steps would make this journey easier and far more convenient.
Ishrak Wasif Udoy is a student of Business and Technology Management at the Islamic University of Technology.