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Think that what you do in your designated workout time is the only thing that matters for building muscle and losing fat? Think again. What you do leading up to your workout is vital in optimizing your progress.

After a long day at the office or in the classroom you’re eager to hit the gym.

You get through the entrance doors, swipe your membership card, pick up a towel and head for the locker room. Your stuff is dumped in a locker and after a quick change you head into the gym and get started straight away with your workout.

Stop!

There’s something seriously wrong with this scenario.

You didn't have a pre-workout ritual. Well, you did, but it involved rushing round, not focusing on anything and doing all you could to get into the gym as quickly as possible so you could get everything done, head home and spend the rest of the night watching TV and surfing the Internet.

Rushing before your workout is one of the worst things you can do if you really want to build natural muscle and lose fat. You need a pre-training protocol to get you in the mood for your workout and get the most from your session. So what can you do?

The Mental Pre-Workout Ritual

Unless you work right next door to the gym, you should have some time before you train either in the car, on foot or on public transport between work and your health club. Use this time wisely.

Take a few moments to do a “brain dump” and get rid of all the nonsense that’s gone on during the day.

There’s nothing worse than trying to get yourself psyched up for a heavy sets of squats or getting ready to attempt a personal best time on the treadmill with the afternoon’s meetings, overdue reports, or run ins with colleagues still going round your head.

If needs be stay an extra two to three minutes at work and write down everything that’s bothering you on a sheet of paper. This serves to get everything stressful out of your mind. It’ll still be there in the morning and you won’t forget anything important, but for the rest of the evening, don’t let it bother you.

Visualize Your Workout

Visualize your workout while you’re on the way to the gym or in the locker room. Visualization is one of the best ways to ensure you’re going to have a great workout. Think about what exercises are on the cards for tonight. (This is assuming you have a plan and don’t just waltz into the gym without any idea of what you’re going to do – a plan is vital, but this should go without saying.)

Imagine how you’re going to feel as you walk up to the bar for deadlifts, pick up a kettlebell for a set of swings or set up the bike ready for a one kilometer sprint and visualize yourself succeeding.

With your mental ritual now in place, you’re ready to have a great muscle building, fat burning workout.

Well, almost …

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