Exercise regularly, and you soon realize that the more you do it—the better you get at it. Your performance improves as you get stronger, faster, and more flexible.
However, just like reaching any other goal, proper preparation is key.
The choices you make before heading to the gym are as important as the choices you make during the actual workout.
Diving in without the right prep sets you up for mediocre performance or, worse, an injury that will put a halt to your training.
Without further ado, here are the five things you should never do before a workout.
Let’s get started.
One of the most common mistakes gym-goers make is static stretching before a workout.
Static stretching involves holding a stretch for an extended period, and apparently, this type of stretching might be detrimental to both performance and injury.
When exercising, your muscles need to contract as fast and as hard as possible. But, when you place them in a stretched state before you exercise, you undermine their ability to function optimally.
Don’t take my word for it.
According to research, static stretches before exercising may reduce the maximum weight you can by eight people and reduce leg stability by 22 percent compared to those who opted for dynamic stretching beforehand.
Stretching a cold muscle could also increase your risk of tearing it. You don’t want that, right?
Skip The Warm-up
I get it. You live a busy life and want to fit in your whole session, but skipping your warm-up to do is a costly error.
And here’s why.
A proper warm-up prepares your body for intense activity by increasing your heart rate and blood flow. Skip the warm-up, and you’ll be risking putting too much stress on your body too quickly, increasing pain and/or injury risk.
Complete a two-part warm-up before your session. In part one, perform a cardio-based movement, such as walking in place, jogging, slow cycling, or easy rowing—for five minutes. This should help elevate your heart rate and core temperature.
Then do an active warm-up for five minutes—or longer for an intense session. Do dynamic exercises like lunges, inchworms, leg swings, arms swings, high knees, etc.
Perform each move for 20 seconds, and then move to next without resting.
Feasting before Fitness
While it might seem like a good practice to fuel up, having a big meal before a workout is a big no-no. Do this and you might throw up on the bench press, and you don’t want that.
How much you eat and your food choices depend on many factors such as your fitness level, size, and training intensity ad the duration of your workout.
If you mind exercising in a fasted state, then have a small, well-balanced meal two to three hours before your workout. This window of time is enough for the food to be processed by the digestive tract.
The ideal meal involves the following:
- Faster-acting low carbs, to maintain sugar levels during training,
- Protein to help speed up post-workout recovery and sustain energy, and
- Low in fat to reduce the risk of stomach issues.
Good options include:
- Banana with peanut butter
- Slice of toast with a tablespoon or two of peanut butter
- Apple with string cheese
Not Drinking Enough Water
A lot of gym-goers are walking around chronically dehydrated. This awful condition negatively impacts both your training performance and enjoyment.
Lack of fluid intake can also cause dizziness, mood swings, lack of focus, fatigue, joint pain, headaches, muscle cramps and other aches and pains that can make your session go south in a hurry. And you don’t want that.
The general rule states that you should shoot for roughly 3 to 35 ml per kg of body weight per day—in addition to 500 to 1000 ml for every hour of exercise. This is especially the case if you sweat a lot.
Not Having a Plan
You don’t have to be training for the Olympics to need a training plan. A good plan gives your training direction and purpose, so you can focus on the workouts and exercises that deliver the gains you’re looking for.
Without a plan, there’s simply no drive. You’re just going through the motions, jumping from one mindless workout to the next.
Here’s what you need to do: Create a schedule of the types of exercise you want to perform and prepare everything you need in advance.
You can come up with a strength training routine that targets your whole body with six to eight exercises. Focus on push, pull, glutes, and core, quad, and hamstrings exercises.
There you have it! The above covers some of the most common pre-workout mistakes I see many people make. I believe by just making sure that prepare right for your sessions, you’ll be able to make a lot of progress—even break through your training plateaus. That’s a good thing if you ask me.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.
About the author: David Dack is an established fitness blogger and running expert. When he’s not training for his next marathon, he’s doing research and trying to help as many people as possible to share his fitness philosophy. Check his blog Runners Blueprint for more info.