1. Get enough zzz’s.
“The most imperative thing in any fitness program starts the minute you go to sleep—that’s where all the magic happens,” says Cardiello. Being well-rested not only energizes you through every burpee or sprint, but it also keeps your hunger hormones in check, so you’re not undoing your efforts in the gym by overeating the rest of the day.
“Whoever I work out with, they don’t show up to the gym unless they’re getting seven hours of sleep,” says Cardiello. “I tell them to go home.” (Whoa.) If you can’t do seven, at least try for six and a half hours, he says—he recommends his clients set boundaries with their electronicsbefore bed so the light doesn’t keep them awake. A good sleep is also super important after a workout, too—that’s when muscles really get to recover.
2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
You already know that drinking your H20 is crucial to overall health, but it plays an especially important role in a fitness routine—when you’re sweating it out, you need to make sure your body is properly hydrated since you’re losing water. Plus, being hydrated will make sure your energy levels are where they need to be, says Cardiello.
“Just look at the parallels between oil in a car and water in a body—a car can’t run without car, a body can’t run without water,” says Cardiello. You should be sipping it before, during, and after a workout.
Although exact water needs vary from person to person, he recommends aiming for half of your bodyweight in ounces per day (so, if you weight 150 pounds, try to get in 75 ounces). If your urine is dark, it probably means you’re not hydrated enough. Here are 12 easy ways to drink more of it.
3. Grab a small snack.
If you’re really not feeling a pre-workout snack, there’s no need to force food down ahead of time, but don’t ignore your body if you feel like you need some fuel. “If there’s no food in, there’s no energy out,” says Cardiello. He suggests a piece of Ezekiel toast with a bit of almond butter to get you going (here are five other great pre-workout snacks that are all around 150 calories). The sweet spot? “I don’t want you to be starving, but I don’t want you to be feeling full either.”
4. Consider wearing red for an extra boost of power.
Strange, but true. “Red is a very empowering color—it increases prowess, confidence, and has been shown to increase performance a bit,” says Cardiello. “If you’re ever tired or just want to dominate the gym, red is the best choice. Blue and green are more calming, so it depends on what your workout.” Orange and yellow are also heightening colors, he says.
5. Work in a dynamic warm-up.
Skipping your warm-up is a definite no-no—even if your workout is only 10 minutes long. “[The warm-up] is meant to give your body the opportunity to raise your body temperature, increase range of motion, and prepare yourself for what you’re about to do,” says Cardiello. It also helps decrease your chance of injury when you ease into your workout, rather than jumping straight from a resting state to the hard work.