Best Pre-Workout For Cardio and What To Eat When Working Out

Fail to plan and plan to fail…

These words hold true for most things in life. With working out, it’s no different.

Many people are interested in the best pre-workout for cardio so we will glance at just how you should get ready for intense CV work.

We’ll also explore the importance of what you eat, both before and after hitting the elliptical machine or the stepper.

Do I Need To Warm Up Before Cardio? What Is The Best Pre-Workout For Cardio?

Warming up before aerobic exercise of a vigorous nature is crucial. You will not only significantly lessen your chances of injury but can boost your performance into the bargain.

We are all so time-poor these days that skipping your warm-up and cool-down might seem a smart time saver. Don’t make that mistake, though.

When you stretch and warm up – doing whatever activity you have planned more slowly at reduced intensity – you will gradually kickstart your cardiovascular system. You will notice your body temperature climb. The flow of blood to the muscles in your body will be optimized.

After you have finished up, cooling down is equally critical. You can slowly normalize your heart rate and blood pressure. Blood flow is regulated.

How To Warm Up Properly

Your warm-up should come directly before your cardio workout.

The best idea is to target your large muscle groups first of all. Think hamstrings, glutes, chest, back and quadriceps.

After this, focus on any exercises that are more specific to the activity you’ll be undertaking.

If you want a dynamic warm-up, mimic the movements of your chosen activity but start very slowly indeed. You can ramp up the speed and intensity slightly as you start to feel warmer.

When you warm up properly, you might sweat a little but you should not experience any fatigue at all.

  • You will go for a brisk walk: Walk very slowly for 5-10 minutes
  • You will go running: Walk swiftly for 5-10 minutes
  • You will go swimming: Start by swimming slowly then increase the tempo


The most effective time to perform your stretching is immediately after you have warmed up (or cooled down). Your muscles will already be nicely warm.

One of the principal benefits of stretching is an improvement in flexibility and range of motion.

Rather than diving impatiently onto the rowing machine, make the time to warm up then stretch. You will find that your joints will them move freely through their full range of motion.

How To Cool Down Properly

Once you’ve neared the end of your cardio workout, try stopping gently rather than abruptly.

When you have run out of steam, just keep at it for 5 minutes but dial back the intensity and the pace.

  • You have been for a brisk walk: Walk very slowly for 5-10 minutes
  • You have been running: Walk swiftly for 5-10 minutes
  • You have been swimming: Treat yourself to a couple of leisure laps instead of stopping cold


Make sure you find the time to warm up and cool down rather than trying to shave off a few minutes. If you really are pressed, think about walking to the gym as your warm up.

Now, equally important as the way in which you prepare your body for exercise is the manner in which you fuel it.

best pre workout for cardio

What Should I Eat Before Cardio?

Everyone is well aware of the importance of cardio. Even if you are not embarking on a systematic exercise program, it pays to shoot for 3 hours of CV work each week.

Get your heart pumping and make sure you get enough aerobic exercise.

It’s essential, though, to prime up tour body with the correct foods.

One myth to explode straight off the bat is the concept of eating before cardio to accelerate weight loss. Put simply, your body will burn the same amount of fat as you pound the pavement regardless of what you have eaten.

This does not mean that working out without eating is wise. If this is the way you roll you can actually cause muscle loss which is probably not in line with your goals. Your body normally draws protein from your kidneys and liver. If you are hungry, though, it goes into survival mode. When this happens, protein is grabbed from the muscles instead.

Throw into the equation the fact that you will be inadequately fuelled for an intense workout and the role of pre-cardio food becomes clear.

Try to include some protein and also some type of complex carbohydrate in the snack before your session.

You will want to strike that fine balance between taking on board sufficient fuel for your purposes while avoiding being weighed down by a heavy, stodgy meal.

Here are some ideas for you:

  • Banana and some almond butter
  • Oatmeal with fresh berries
  • Brown rice and black beans
  • Steamed broccoli and sweet potato
  • Crackers and hummus
  • Carrot sticks
  • Yoghurt
  • Eggs
  • Tuna sandwich
  • Glass of milk

Whatever your tastes, there should be something on that list you’ll be happy to wolf down.

Aim for 50 calories of protein with 150 calories comprised of carbs.

Do I Need To Eat After Cardio?

You certainly do!

After an intense cardio workout, the glycogen stores in your muscles will be depleted.

If you get some protein and carbs into your system within half an hour of finishing up, you’ll refill these dwindling energy stores while also repairing and building your muscles.

If you wait for a couple of hours instead of refueling promptly, your body’s ability to recover will drop by around 50% so be prepared and do yourself justice by eating well after your stint of cardio.

Here are some more ideas for you:

  • Protein shake with a banana
  • Salad and roasted chickpeas
  • Almonds
  • Bowl of quinoa
  • Multi-grain bread and peanut butter
  • Burrito
  • Steamed veg and tofu


The best pre-workout for cardio is to ease your body in slowly then stretch.

Think carefully about what you eat before and after paying attention to the above guidance.

Incorporate a decent cardio workout into your exercise regime and feel the full benefits of eating well while working out sensibly.

If you have any questions on this subject or anything else health-related, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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My name is Harry Wilson. I'm the author of GoodHealthPlanning. Whether it’s workout routines, diet ideas or a guide to the equipment you need, we’ll help you get in the best shape possible. If you like this post, you can follow me on Twitter. Subscribe to Goodhealthplanning to receive instant updates.
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