Power Your Workout: All You Need to Know About Pre-Workout

Pre Workout

Pre-workout is used all the time, but just like any other supplement it is not necessary to make gains. Pre-workout is what’s going to give you that sudden burst of energy right before your workout so that you are able to push through those tough workouts. Pre-workout is great on those days when your super tired, or whenever you have a hard workout ahead. I like to use some extra source of energy or a pre-workout everyday, but I tend to go for a stronger one on the days I do squats or deadlifts.

Most pre-workouts are stimulated by caffeine so you might wanna watch for that when choosing which one is best for you. Some have higher doses of caffeine than others so, if you’re more or less caffeine sensitive it’s important you choose one that adheres to that preference. A lot of people don’t take pre-workout everyday because they don’t want their body to rely on it or because they are opposed to the levels of caffeine being in taken within the drinks. That is all personal preference.

Pre-workout does come in different forms, just as the protein powders do. You can find it already bottled and ready to drink, it can come in cans, or you will probably most commonly see it in powder form. With the powder form of pre-workout you are typically getting more for your money and you tend to be getting more of the ingredients per scoop as well. There are tons of pre-workouts on the market that work really well, but they also work very differently for everyone. Knowing how much your body can take or what servings you need to stimulate your body will help you decide which pre-workout is best for you.

My Favorite Pre-Workouts

Psychotic: Psychotic is going to be one of the top pre-workouts over all the ones within this market. This is going to give you more energy than almost any other pre-workout would. I tend to reach for this pre-workout on squat and deadlift days when I need a ton of energy, although I do not take it everyday due to the high levels of stimulants contained within the powder. I definitely would not recommend this to someone who has a low tolerance for caffeine, or to someone who has never used pre-workout before. Aside from that, the flavor of this pre-workout is probably one of my favorites as well. It’s not too strong and doesn’t have much of that “pre-workout taste.” Be careful, it might keep you up all night!! If you want a good laugh, definitely read the reviews for this product.

Hyde: Hyde is a pre-workout that I would take on an everyday basis. This brand is commonly known and used by a lot of people. I really like this pre-workout, it gives me the right amount of energy to get through my workouts but is something that I would recommend to someone who has already been using pre-workout previously.

ESP: This pre-workout has been selling for a while now, but it is new to me. I just recently started using it and I do really like it. The flavor is great (I use watermelon), and it actually does not contain caffeine, which is a plus in my opinion. While using this pre-workout, I definitely get enough energy to get a great workout in, but it won’t keep you up all night.
C4: Probably one of the most commonly known pre-workouts is the C4 brand. There are many different flavors ranging from the typical fruit punch, to strawberry margarita. I would definitely recommend this per workout to someone who has never tried one before. This was the very first pre-workout that I ever tried. It was great then, as it still is now. One thing that some people don’t like, but some people love about this pre-workout is that it contains a large amount of beta alanine, which causes a tingly feeling in the body.

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Supplements: Protein

Protein

Protein might just be one of the most popular and most talked about supplements on the market. We all know that proteins are what build up and help preserve the muscles and that may be why this supplement is so commonly used. The reason people drink their protein shakes right after a workout is because this shake is able to digest and get into your body quicker than a full meal would be. This is going to get those amino acids contained in protein back into your muscles as quickly as possible. Protein can also be used in a variety of other ways such as weight loss or even just added to one of your favorite recipes. The protein powder/shake is just an easier way to intake a larger amount of protein and a quicker way to refeed your muscles after working out, which is essential for muscle growth. Protein powder is in no way necessary to one’s diet. The same amounts of protein offered in the powder can be found in lean meats, beans, and other foods.

 

So which protein powder is best for you? There are many different types of protein varying from flavor, form, brand, ones that adhere to certain diet types (vegan, vegetarian, etc.) and the list goes on. Finding which one works best for you and which protein powder you like most is important. When buying your protein powder, it is important that you choose one that adheres to your diet preferences. Two of the most popular eating habits at the time are the plant based diets. The Women’s Best whey protein is both vegan and vegetarian, gluten free, and more. Personally, I have not tried this protein, but I have always heard great things about it and I do know of people that use it and love it. I am not really strict about my diet, although I do try to eat as healthy as possible. When looking for a protein powder I usually try to look for one that is high in protein, fits well with my macros, and doesn’t have too many added unnecessary ingredients such as sugar, for example. I like to choose proteins that are whey based, as this is able to digest quicker after a workout, and is known to be one of the most soluble in water. I would have to say that the Ghost Lifestyle whey protein in cereal milk, the Optimum Nutrition whey protein in chocolate malt, and the PEScience whey protein in snickerdoodle are my favorites. Some people also choose to use a mass gainer which is going to be very high in calories and help you gain mass very quickly. The serving size of powder in this type of protein supplement is very large. Another reason people may use a protein shake is for a meal replacement. My favorite powder to use as a meal replacement would be the whole food based Juice Plus Complete protein in chocolate, although vanilla tastes great as well. 

Another question often asked about protein is how much should you take? Often times bodybuilders or those trying to gain muscle say that you should have 1 gram of protein for every pound of lean mass, although some studies show differing results. Both Webmd and Bodybuilding.com have great resources that give you a good insight on how much protein you should be intaking per day.

Stop Making Excuses and Start Making Sacrifices: Commitment is Key

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As Jillian Michaels once said, “It’s not about perfect. It’s about effort. And when you bring that effort every single day, that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs.” Consistency is KEY in not only working out, but in every corner of success. In order to be successful at anything, you have to stay committed.

Everyone in the gym wants to see a change in their body, but only few are willing to put in the work and stay committed. Being inconsistent, there is no way that you can build up to the results you want. Start small and begin seeing these results with consistency and commitment. Whether you’re working for weight loss or working for muscle gain, no results will come when you are not consistent. Nothing in success comes easy, that is why putting in the work day in and day out is the only way to bring these rewards and to bring out this goal physique of yours.

Set Goals

Goal setting is important in order to help one stay committed. Having specific goals keeps you in check and gives you a result to look forward to. When creating these goals for yourself, you want them to be attainable. For example, losing 10 pounds in two weeks is a stretch. Maybe say losing 10 pounds by that beach trip you have planned this summer, or being able to squat 225 by a certain date that isn’t out of reach. You want your goals to push you harder, but you also don’t want them to be too far out. Check out this pinterest post about goal setting to help keep your goals attainable and memorable!

 

Create a Habit

After consistently going to the gym for a little over a year, it has become almost like a habit for me. Going to the gym to workout isn’t something that I really have to think about anymore, I just do it, and I love it. Getting yourself into the gym at first may be hard to do and may seem repetitive. Getting into a routine and creating this healthy lifestyle creates consistency on its own. Going to the gym every now and then isn’t going to create results. Making it a lifestyle and a habit is necessary and only then will these dramatic results appear.

 

Enjoy the Process

If you are going into the gym every day hating what you’re doing, you need to find something new. If you get bored running mile after mile on the treadmill, go try something else. The less passionate you are about what you’re doing, the harder it’s going to be to create a habit and stay committed and the harder it will be to set goals that you are desperate to reach. You shouldn’t go in the gym everyday discouraged because you have to do X amount of minutes on the elliptical or burn X amount of calories on the rower. Finding what you enjoy is what’s going to get you excited about working out and excited about reaching those goals you set for yourself. That being said, personally, everyday I cannot wait to get into the gym. I have found that weight lifting and strength training is what I love most. It is not hard for me to get myself in the gym, but it is hard to get me to take a rest day! This is because I have found what I’m passionate about and I love seeing progress.

 

Less Excuses, More Sacrifices

Excuses get you no where but further from where you want to be. Everyone can find an excuse for anything. Excuses such as “I didn’t have time to meal prep so I have to eat out,” or, “oh this show that I really like was on T.V. last night so I had to stay home so I didn’t miss it.” Excuses make no progress. Sacrifices do. Something as simple as sacrificing that donut to make sure you keep your diet in check, or sacrificing an unhealthy habit in order to get yourself in the gym more often. You may come home one night and be totally exhausted from work and not go to the gym, and that’s okay. Rest days are also necessary for proper recovery, but excuses aren’t. Many people say they don’t have time to go to the gym, but somehow end up spending their night binge watching a show on netflix, or doing something unproductive. If you really want something, you have to work for it and give up the excuses. Sacrifice the fast food, or the donuts until you reach a goal, and then reward yourself. No one is too busy, it’s all about what matters most to you. Do you really want to have that dream body? Do you really want to look and feel good? Make the gym your priority, not your option. Nothing worth having is easily earned.

Leg Workout for Strength and Muscle Growth

Our primary movement for leg day is the barbell squat. As we are working for strength, only three sets of our heavy working weight is necessary. The rest of the movements were hypertrophy movements (muscle growth). More reps were included within the accessory work in order to work towards the aesthetics or muscle growth. Heavier weight with less reps leads to muscle strength, while less weight with a higher rep range will encourage the muscle development. Completing a good mixture of both styles of training leads to both strength and hypertrophy within the legs.

Workout:

Exercise 1: Barbell Squat

Warm up

45 lbs 1×15

135 lbs 1×8

155 lbs 1×6

185 lbs 1×5

Working Set

205 lbs 2×3

205 lbs 1×5

Tips: Keep your core tight, keep a neutral spine

Exercise 2: Walking Lunges 

115 lbs 3×20

Exercise 3: Straight Leg Deadlifts

135 lbs 2×10

155 lbs 1×8

Tips: Keep the back straight at all times with a slight bend in the knees

Exercise 4 Hack Squat Machine

90 lbs 3×12

Exercise 5: Hip Thrusters

50 lbs 2×20

Exercise 6: Leg Extension

110 lbs 3×15-20

 

Exercise 7: Leg Curl

65 lbs 3×15-20

Exercise 8: Standing Calf Raises

90 lbs 4x burnout

 

Common Misconception: Smith Machine vs. Barbell Squat

Image1: Smith machine squat form

Image 2 and 3: Barbell squat form

A common misconception many people have when entering the gym is that the smith machine is a replacement for the barbell or free weight squat. Though they are both squat variations, the two movements work very different muscles and are completed in different ways. The differences between the smith machine and free weight squat outweighs the similarities, making the two almost incomparable.

    While using the smith machine isn’t necessarily a bad thing, using the squat rack is much more beneficial in maximizing your strength and giving you an overall stronger body, and the smith machine is almost nothing like free weight squatting. Many people, including myself when I first started going to the gym, have a common misconception that using the smith machine is the same thing as using a squat rack. Some people don’t want to use the squat rack and decide to use the smith machine because they don’t know how to properly squat, or maybe they don’t yet have the confidence and they consider it as an alternative to the barbell squat. The squat rack can be intimidating at first, but there are so many benefits to using it.

Squatting, or performing any exercise on the smith machine for that matter is VERY different than completing any exercise with free weights or a barbell. The reason the smith machine is different from free weight exercises is for the fact that the barbell is held in place, in a straight up and down motion on the smith machine, whereas the barbell has a free range of motion.

When squatting under the smith machine, the correct form is with your back straight under the bar, not your feet. The placement of your feet should be out further from the bar so that your back remains straight throughout the completion of the exercise. Whether you are squatting sumo, or the regular squat stance, you still want your feet further in front of you. Once you actually begin the squat movement on the smith machine, you will notice that the muscles that are being targeted most are the quads. This eliminates the movement in your back and your core. This is because the range of motion while squatting on the smith machine is a fixed path, so you no longer are responsible for balancing this weight and are no longer utilizing your stabilizer muscles.

Barbell squatting has its many benefits and differences to the smith machine squat movement. When performing the barbell squat, a person uses on average nine major muscle groups that work together to complete the movement. These major muscles would include the quads, the hamstrings, the glutes, the core, abductors, erectors, and the back muscles. Barbell squatting increases your overall strength by incorporating these muscle groups and giving you the chance to balance and push this weight on your own without the help or guidance of a machine. There is a greater activation within the core and the secondary muscles during free weight squats due to the fact that you are balancing this weight on your own. In order to keep from falling forwards or backwards, the core is used to stabilize oneself, therefore giving you that extra activation and use of those muscles. Overall, the barbell squat is going to substantially increase your strength due to the fact that it is incorporating more muscle groups than the smith machine variation of a squat would.

The smith machine though, does allow you to target more specific muscle groups while the squat rack doesn’t allow you to pick and choose. If you wanted to target your quads, or a certain muscle within your legs, you are able to adjust the placings of your feet while using the smith machine. The smith machine is better for accessory work or for target areas, but it is not a replacement or an alternative to the barbell squat. The barbell squat and the smith machine squat variation cannot be replaced by one another simply because these are two completely different exercises that really can’t compare to each other. While the smith machine, like I said, is good for accessory work, using it as an alternative to the free weight squat movement results in a disadvantage and you will not be getting the muscle involvement or strength that you would from a barbell squat.