When it comes to sports and fitness, most of us picture powerful athletes who display a unique level of skill combined with unmatched mental strength. Yet, how many people take the time to think about what goes on in the background?
Do these athletes just magically reach the top of their profession? Of course not. Many factors go into reaching peak performance. Routines play a big part. Routines are a critical piece of the performance puzzle for any athlete, especially those looking to maximise their God-given ability.
But routines aren’t just for professional athletes. Routines can enhance all areas of your fitness and personal life, regardless of what sport or fitness hobby you pursue.
In this article, we dive into the world of routines and discuss why they are essential in helping everyday gym-goers reach their maximum potential in and out of the gym.
What is a fitness routine?
Collins Dictionary states ‘a routine is the usual series of things that you do at a particular time.’ A routine can also be defined as ‘the practice of regularly doing things in a specified order.’
Professional athletes use routines to improve elements of sporting performance, but regular everyday gym-goers may actually benefit the most from designing and implementing a fitness routine.
Routines can help improve:
Strategic awareness and planning
Controlling emotions and preparing for uncertainty
Simply put, routines allow you to holistically prepare for your performance, factoring in all elements of the task and activity. You can use several types of routines to prepare for your fitness or upcoming competition.
Examples of typical fitness routines:
Pre-fitness or pre-game routines
Daily and nutritional routines
Routines are so essential to a player’s performance that you’d be hard-pressed to find an elite athlete without one. How about taking a leaf out of their book by using routines to boost your fitness performance?
Why do athletes use routines, and why should you too?
One routine that would benefit gym-goers the most is a pre-workout routine. Routines like this help you prepare physically and mentally for the challenges ahead.
Pre-workout routines can also help beginners calm their nerves, particularly if their performing new movements for the first time.
In sports and fitness, there are multiple factors over which we have no control, but a routine can help prepare us for the unexpected. This is where a routine keeps you on track and helps block external distractions that might hamper your performance.
Areas of your fitness performance you CAN control:
A correct and thorough warm-up
Ensuring your equipment and gear are ready
Post-workout reactions and emotions
The wonderful thing about routines is that they can be done anywhere, which is why they’re invaluable to those constantly on the go. Routines provide consistency and predictability, which calms your mind and helps relieve stress and anxiety about your upcoming fitness session.
Combined, these facets allow you to clear your headspace and focus on the task. Knowing you have ‘ticked all the boxes’ and prepared accordingly gives you peace of mind and eliminates the chance of performing poorly.
Things to consider for your pre-workout routine
Altering your pre-practice routine is an excellent way to develop your pre-workout routine. While a few minor differences must be considered, a pre-workout routine is essentially an extended version of your pre-practice routine. It allows you to ‘fine-tune’ it before putting it to the ultimate test.
For instance, your goal of peak performance is still your priority, regardless of whether it’s a practice or a CrossFit competition day. However, your pre-workout routine takes longer because a lot of rides on your performance, meaning more boxes to tick when preparing.
As with most things, there are no ‘cookie-cutter’ routines meaning every gym-goer needs to invest the time to develop a routine that works for them. Most pre-workout or ‘pre-game’ routines comprise elements common to competition, such as intensity and focus.
Elements to consider for your pre-workout routine:
What time is your workout?
How intense is it?
How focused do you need to be?
Ensuring a good night’s sleep
Keywords for positive self-talk
Pre and post-workout nutrition
Developing a practical routine takes time and experimentation, so be patient and give each routine time to work before ditching it. Whether you’re a professional soccer player or a CrossFit beginner, a pre-workout routine will enhance your performance.
Designing an effective pre-workout routine
Designing an effective pre-workout routine includes four steps, one as important as the other.
1Create an action list
When developing your list of actions, take your time because you don’t want to feel hurried, which can increase the chance of mistakes. Specific points to consider are:
Nutrition and timing
Tactics and strategy (if needed)
A final check of your gear
Mental and physical preparation
After that, don’t forget to allow time for other pre-game tasks like changing into your sports clothing and using the bathroom.
2Prioritise each point
Here you’ll want to prioritise the most critical actions on your list. There is no right or wrong order as long as it works. Ensure your routine is adaptable because parts of your routine, such as your pre-workout meal, may be hampered depending on the facilities offered (pun not intended).
3Identify where specific steps can be performed
For instance, finding an area to warm up can be tricky, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the facility. Maybe you do CrossFit in a big class but like to be alone first; is there a quiet place you can find?
4Develop a time frame
Last is knowing precisely how long your pre-workout routine takes. For instance, some gym-goers like to get to the gym an hour before the session starts, while others seem to stroll in 5 beforehand. Again, do what works for you.
Sum it up
Once you’ve settled on a routine, try it in conditions with little to no consequence, such as before a training session or a practice match. Remember that not every routine you design and develop will work, so be patient when determining which routine works best for you.
One final thought. Even if you have the best routine in the world, it will mean nothing if you don’t use it consistently. The best athletes are disciplined and regimented with their routines, and its this discipline separates them from the rest.
Want to learn more?
In this video, Professor of Psychology at Curtin University, Martin Hagger, delves deep into the science behind routines and mindsets, specifically looking at how different routines work for different athletes.
For sports and fitness lovers, this video gives a glimpse into the minds of professional athletes. It provides practical, easy-to-implement tips and strategies to help you get the most out of your next fitness session.
Receive Exclusive Tips & Weekly Digest – subscribe to our newsletter