Lots of articles have been written on what to do before a workout, but now it's time to consider what NOT to do before you hit the gym. Many of us think we have it all figured out and are doing everything right. But, chances are, your daily routine is affecting your performance at the gym without you even knowing it. What you wear, what you eat and how you sleep - all could be hindering your workout sessions and be counterproductive to your results. Here are some tips of what NOT to do to ensure you get the best out of your workouts.
If you don't want to fall over during your Body Pump class or embarrass yourself by singing out loud to your Justin Bieber playlist, it's suggested you avoid drinking before a workout. Drinking can make you feel drowsy and will leave you dehydrated during exercise. It can also narrow your blood vessels, lower your blood sugar levels and impair your motor function.
Spicy food could cause reflux or heartburn during a workout so it's best to avoid this before hitting the gym. Reflux and heartburn could make your workout very uncomfortable and will likely lead to you cutting your class short. Working out while your body is still digesting food will force your body to shunt blood into the muscles being worked, which means you aren't getting enough blood supply to your stomach to help properly digest the food and you aren't getting enough blood supply to your muscles. So avoid any type of food that is hard for your stomach to break down before a workout. Lighter foods, such as fruit and carbs are better choices.
It's best to save the romp in the sack for after your workout. It's pretty simple to explain – a hot intimate workout session will simply use up most of your energy. As well, oxytocin is released during sex, which will leave you feeling tired and mellow.
While a short 20 to 30 minute power nap may increase your energy, sleeping longer than that will leave you feeling lethargic and you'll likely have a hard time motivating yourself to hit the gym. If you do get to the gym your workout will likely suffer because you'll feel tired and unenergized. So, if you need a nap, make sure it's a quick one – just long enough to recharge your body for a good, intense workout.
It's recommended that you never static stretch (bend down to touch your toes) before strength training. When you are working out your muscles must contract as intensely as possible. If they are put in a stretched state before the workout they will not do an effective job. One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that people who static stretched before performing a squat actually reduced their strength by 8.36 percent and their lower-body stability by 22.68 percent, compared to those who performed dynamic stretches before.
When your body is feeling stressed it releases higher levels of cortisol, which break down muscle tissue and will encourage body fat storage. That's why they say stress is a muscle-killer. If you're feeing stressed it will affect your ability to concentrate and lack of focus could lead to injury in your workout. So try leaving whatever it is that is stressing you out behind when you hit the gym.
It's important that you don't over consume stimulants such as caffeine before a workout. Moderate levels of stimulants can help enhance your energy but too much will lead to a rapid heart beat and anxiety, which will make your workout suffer.
If you are about to do some strength training it's best to not strain your body with too much cardio before. Because your goal in strength training is to build your muscle, expending too much before the workout will simply decrease your performance. So if you must do cardio, save it for after your strength class.
If you have an aching pain you may be tempted to reach for an ibuprofen before heading to the gym. But experts believe this could actually hurt your workout because many over-the-counter pain medications act as muscle relaxers.
Dress for the Occasion
If you wear too many layers you could overheat, which will make you sweat more. If you are working out in cooler temperatures that sweat could make you feel colder. If you are wearing multiple layers it's suggested that you shed some of the layers as your workout progresses. Just remember – less is best when you are working out and building your own heat.