But, so often, we forget the importance of good prep. What you do before a workout is as important as what you do during and after your session.
To make the most out of your next sessions, there are a few things you should avoid doing before you exercise.
Let's take a look at some of the things you should never do before pushing or pulling the heavy iron or pounding the pavement. Not only will ditching these habits help you stay injury-free, but it will also help you to become a more powerful and efficient athlete.
Fitness Advice: What Not to Do Before a Workout
1. Static stretching
Research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research revealed that subjects who static stretched before a leg workout reduced their strength by 8 percent and lower body stability by 22 percent, compared to participants who completed a dynamic warm-up before exercising.
What's more, when your muscles are cold, they lack elasticity, which makes them susceptible to tear and injury. Leave static stretching for your post-workout routine.
So how should you warm up, exactly?
2. Skip the warm-up
When you’re in a hurry, you might feel justified to skip the warm-up and jump straight into the workout. But that’s a big mistake.
A warm-up beforehand can make your sessions way more effective. It loosens your muscles and prepares the body for what is to come so you can perform at your max. Otherwise, you risk placing too much stress on your body too quickly, increasing your risk of injury and mediocre performance.
Here’s how to warm up for your next workout.
Start with a 5-minute cardio-based movement, think walking, jogging, cycling or easy rowing. This should elevate your heart rate.
3. Eat a big meal
Some gym-goers tend to overdo things, and often overeating before a workout is one of them.
Hitting the gym on a heavy stomach causes not only nausea but also discomfort and pain. This won’t let you get the most out of your session -- in fact, you might feel sick or even throw up -- and you definitely don’t want that.
As a rule, give yourself at least 2-3 hours before a regular meal and workout. Your food choices can also make all the difference. Here are a few healthy options:
Or better yet, make a Natural Pomegranate Passion Fruit drink to power up.
And remember to avoid the following:
- High-fat foods
- Fatty or fried foods
- Heavy meals like pulses, beef, rice and chicken.
4. Not have a plan
You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to set a training and fitness plan. The fact is, a plan will give your training purpose and directions, so you can focus on exercises that help you get closer to your fitness vision.
Every time you hit the gym or pound the pavement, think about what you want to get done today and use a training plan to help get some direction and structure. You’re more likely to follow through with your workout when you have a clear course of action.
Without a plan, you’ll be wasting time, wandering around, and thinking about what you should do, with no real drive. This is why this mistake could be the reason you aren’t getting the most out of your workouts.
Instead, design a schedule and plan of the types of workouts and exercises you want to perform for the week, and prepare everything you need ahead of time.
You can come up with a workout routine to target your entire body with only a few exercises. Focus on your pull, push, core, glute, quadriceps and hamstring exercises.
5. Skimp on sleep
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Want to feel like a zombie on your next workout? Skip sleep for a few nights in a row. Research shows that not getting enough sleep compromises athletic performance like nothing else.
When you’re sleep-deprived, your body has to work double-time to keep things running smoothly. This revs up your heart rate and fatigues you out even before you add in a high-intensity workout to the mix.
Your body needs sleep to recuperate and provide energy for tomorrow. Skimping on it comprises your recovery, and can increase your risks of fatigue-related injuries.
For these reasons, if you’re sleep deprived and tired, you might want to hit the bed instead of the gym. You can return fully energized the next day. As a rule, shoot for seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep during the nighttime.
6. Drink too much water
You know that you need to keep your body well hydrated, but chugging a ton just before a workout is a bad idea.
All of that water will sit in your stomach and could cause nausea, cramps or a sickness that makes you want to cut your session short. Trying to drown yourself in water could also put you at risk for a rare yet dangerous condition known as hypernatremia. When this happens, your kidneys can no longer process the fluids fast enough. If this does occur, you’ll feel drained, cramped and in pain.
Instead, make it a rule to stay properly hydrated throughout the day. As a rule, drink a few sips before your session, especially if you’re exercising in the morning. Hydrate your body better with Flow Hydration Water Watermelon Lime.
7. Take pain killers
While it’s tempting to pop a pill when you experience aches or soreness before a workout, it’s not the smartest idea. Here’s why. These pills impact your entire body, not just the part that hurts.
Research tells us that taking pain killers before a workout may lead to further injury since your body won’t have the pain signals that you’re pushing your body more than it can handle. Also, most painkillers relax muscles, which have a counterproductive effect on your muscles and can hinder your performance.
A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reported that ibuprofen could make exercise-induced injury in the same intestines worse and cause gut barrier problems in healthy athletes.
If you’re in enough pain to feel the need for a pill, then you should be asking yourself if you should be an exercise in the first place. Instead, schedule a rest day and let your body heal—your body deserves it.
Still keen on exercise? Then use a foam roller to help soothe some of the pain.