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5 Things Not To Do Before Working Out – And What To Do Instead

5 Things Not To Do Before Working Out – And What To Do Instead

What you do before a workout session can have incredible benefits on your body – or it can derail any attempt to get in shape whatsoever. Before hitting the gym, take the following precautions so you don’t end up leaving in worse shape than you were when you walked in.

Sleep

Of course you want to be rested before you start working out. But getting too much sleep before a session at the gym can actually hinder your performance. When you sleep for more than 30 minutes, your body enters a deep sleep – just as it does when you lie down for the night. A nap that lasts longer than 30 minutes will only make you feel even more groggy and exhausted than you were when you laid down.

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If you must nap before the gym, make sure you set an alarm for 15-20 minutes ahead of time. This will give you enough time to rest your eyes and body but not trick your mind into thinking it’s time to go to bed for the night.

Stretch

When we were younger, our gym teachers all told us make sure to stretch before doing any sort of strenuous activity. However, experts now say stretching before a workout might actually do more harm than good. Not only does static stretching before exercising decrease the strength of the muscles being stretched, but it also increases the risk of pulling or straining these muscles.

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Instead of using static stretching methods before a workout, warm up your muscles by moving them in some way or another, such as running in place, doing jumping jacks, or riding a stationary bike. Save the static stretching for after your workout. Stretching is much more beneficial after you’ve “loosened up” your muscles.

High-Intensity Interval Training

High-Intensity Interval Training is – surprise, surprise – intense. It also varies in intensity throughout each session. Because High-Intensity Interval Training varies in intensity, it disrupts your body’s natural respiration, as the amount of energy you put forward changes over time. HIIT also decreases your stamina and strength quickly, which you certainly don’t want to do before you even get started with your workout.

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As previously mentioned, you should definitely do some sort of cardio to begin a workout session, but there’s no need to go from zero to sixty. Instead of diving into high-intensity activities, wade in with some steady state cardio in which the energy you put forth doesn’t vary much at all.

Eat or Drink Too Much

Remember when your mom always told you not to go swimming until a half-hour after you ate? It turns out there’s some truth to that old wives’ tale, after all. After you’ve eaten a large meal, your body will obviously start to digest it. What we often don’t realize is just how much energy this process takes. If we try to work out during the digestive process, we overburden our bodies, which can lead to stomach cramps and nausea. Additionally, drinking beverages that are high in sugar content can lead to an athlete quickly “hitting the wall,” and being unable to complete a workout session.

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Instead of eating and drinking everything in sight, maintain a healthy pre-workout diet to properly energize yourself before a gym session. Stick to wholesome foods like fruits, grains, and yogurt – stay away from sweets. Check the labels on your sports drink; you might realize there’s a lot more sugar in it than you thought there was, and it might be hurting you more than helping. Stay away from chemicals; find nourishment that actually helps you rather than giving you a superficial boost that will lead to a crash.

Take Too Many Supplements

If you eat well, you can get all the vitamins and minerals you need to prepare yourself for a workout session without the need of supplements. But if you do choose to use them, don’t overdo it. Taking too much “product” can lead to an irregular heartbeat, nausea, and anxiety – and more. It’s definitely not worth doing long-term damage to your body just to get an extra boost during a workout.

If you’re going to use supplemental powders and pills, read the label. Know exactly what you’re taking before you put anything in your body. Know how it will affect you, and know the warning signs your body will give you if you’ve taken too much. It’s okay to try to give yourself an edge while working out – just don’t abuse it.

Featured photo credit: working out / Tomas Salinka / Flickr via farm8.staticflickr.com

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Published on April 22, 2019

11 Partner Yoga Poses for Couples to Build Intimacy

11 Partner Yoga Poses for Couples to Build Intimacy

Our partners are mirrors to our true self. By embracing a partner yoga practice with one another, we not only lean on each other for support – literally and metaphorically – but we also exercise our vulnerability with one another.

Science has found that by doing so, we’re strengthening our social connections and relationships, which leads to longer lives, healthier habits, reduced stress, and a deeper sense of life meaning.[1]

So how does yoga help with this exactly? In Sanskrit, “yoga” comes from the word yuj, meaning “to yoke” or “to unite”.[2] It’s only appropriate to mirror that definition with a partner, and in essence, begin to unite two people as a whole. Partner yoga also has its roots in building trust and communication, which are cornerstones of a healthy, intimate, and successful relationship.

Let’s break down some poses for a deeper dive:

1. Breathing Together

    A great yoga practice begins with the breath. It’s a simple yet powerful way of connecting to your own body and noticing any sensations that arise.

    Find a seated position with your partner, your backs touching. With eyes closed, tune into you breathing, and begin to deepen the inhales and the exhales.

    You will feel the rise and fall of your partner’s breathing, as you tune into each other’s rhythms. See if you can still maintain your own breath, even when it becomes tempting to mirror the breathing of your partner; allow this rhythm to lull you deeper into becoming present and aware of each other’s space.

    Even in unity, you honor your own body and breath, and that honor extends outward to your partner. With this life force – prana [3] – you’re able to find a richer connection to each other with a simple act of breathing.

    Do this exercise for 3-5 minutes, or as long as it is comfortable.

    2. Partner Twist

      A twist is a great natural detox for the body. When the torso is twisted in the opposite direction, the movement acts as a wringing action for the internal organs, and via an exhale, built-up toxicity can be eliminated from the body.[4]

      With your backs touching, take a deep breath in. As you exhale, gently twist, going in the opposite direction of each other. Take one hand and place it on your opposite knee, with the other hand reaching back for your partner’s. Use a yoga strap if this is not available.

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      Allow the breathing to once again sync you with your partner’s rhythm, and notice what it’s like to have the support of your partner’s hand to help ease a little deeper into the twist.

      Stay in the twist for 5 full breaths, and then switch sides.

      3. Backbend/Forward Fold

        While your backs are still touching, communicate who will fold forward and who will come into a backbend. You’ll have a chance to switch sides.

        The person folding forward will reach their hands forward and either rest their forehead down on the mat, or place it on a block for support. The person doing a backbend will lean back on their partner’s back and open the front of their heart and chest. Breathe deeply here, and see if you can feel each other’s breaths again.

        In yoga, the heart is thought of as the place in front and back of your chest, as it’s the same area opening. So in this pose, even though you’re doing the opposite move, your hearts are still connected. Think about how that translates to your relationship off the mat.

        Stay in this pose for 5 full breaths, and switch when you’re both ready.

        4. Soul Gazing

          This exercise is deeply personal and nourishing, as you sit facing your partner, gently gazing into their eyes.

          Rest your hands on their knees or in their hands, and allow them to do the same. This will further connect you with the power of touch. Once you’re settled (and the giggles have subsided from direct eye contact), begin to truly see your partner.

          In the chaos of our days and weeks, we don’t often get the chance to sit down and take in the person with whom we share our life. Gently gaze and take in your partner’s features, uniqueness, and energy, and allow them to see you in return. Not only is this centering for the rest of your practice, it’s also deeply loving and compassionate.

          Stay in this exercise for 5 minutes or longer, if you both feel tuned in.

          5. Seated and Supported Cat/Cow

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            From a seated position, reach for your partner’s forearms and interlace.

            As you inhale, arch your back and lift your heart to the sky, maybe even lifting the gaze to expose and open the throat. As you exhale, round the spine and pull back, using the resistance of each other’s arms as support, bringing the gaze inward toward your chest.

            Repeat the movements 3-5 times, or as long as you feel comfortable.

            Allow this support from your partner to begin to build trust and surrender, as well as communication. Speak out to what feels good in this pose, and ask your partner the same.

            While the pose is done in tandem, your experience of it in your own body is going to vary. Take this time to share those sensations, and become curious of your partner’s.

            6. Seated and Supported Forward Fold

              In relationships, we know that we don’t have to do everything on our own. We have our best ally in our corner to help us out.

              Likewise in this pose, come into a wide-legged seat with the soles of your feet touching. Reach the arms forward and interlace, and then take turns gently pulling one another closer past middle, using each other as resistance in this Forward Fold. Stay here for 5 full breaths each.

              While this pose is a deep stretch, maybe opt for more of a playful approach! If laughter comes naturally or someone cracks a joke, go along!

              Find fun in working out and being with one another. It’s a surefire way to relieve any stress or tension, and remind each other of the simpler things that bring you both some more smiles.

              7. Partner Boat Pose

                When it comes to postures that are challenging, having a partner mirroring and supporting you can go a long way to giving you that extra boost of confidence and energy. And because they’re doing it with you, too, you can both share in the achievement of rocking this core-engaging posture.

                Start in a seated position, facing one another, a little further away to give enough room for extending the legs. When you’re ready, come into Boat pose one leg at a time, until the soles of your feet are touching.

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                Use them as resistance to further stabilize this pose. If available, reach for each other’s hands, and find each other’s gaze. Smile and breathe. Communicate how you’re feeling and root each other on for 5 full breaths.

                8. Double Downward Dog

                  Speaking of building trust, this pose will give you and your partner a chance to work together toward a common goal. This pose is also all about communication, and speaking your mind when you’re ready to come down or are feeling a sensation that you’d like to share with your significant other.

                  With your partner in traditional Downward Dog, set yourself up by coming into a Forward Fold at the top of the mat. Lifting one foot at a time, place your feet at the base of your partner’s spine. You may need to adjust your feet or walk your hands back once you get into this, to readjust.

                  Once in the pose, breathe there for 5 full breaths, before you switch. After you come out, touch base on how it felt and what you experienced. Share in the pose together by bringing in your specific perspective.

                  9. Reverse Warrior Partner Pose

                    If it’s not evident from the photo above, this pose is all about creating love – literally and symbolically.

                    Begin in Warrior Two facing away from each other, with the outside of your back foot touching. Allow this back foot connection to unite you together in the pose, building a shared foundation from which you can stabilize.

                    Take a deep breath in, and on an exhale, come into your Reverse Warrior by lifting one arm overhead and reaching back for your partner’s grasp, creating a heart shape in the middle of your joined pose. Use a yoga strap if catching your partner’s hand is not available.

                    Take your other hand and wrap it behind your waist. Settle your attention on your breathing and press into your partner’s foot as they do the same. Likewise, mirror the support of their hand in yours.

                    The love you create in your relationship is a two-way street. Remind yourself of all the wonderful ways in which you give and take to build that love. Take 5 full breaths here, and then release when you’re both ready.

                    10. Double Tree Pose

                      No man is an island, and likewise, no tree thrives without support.

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                      In this partner pose, begin in your own Tree, by lifting one leg and pressing the sole of the foot into the thigh or down lower on the calf.

                      When you’ve caught your balance, extend one hand to your partner’s and meet them, palms touching, in the center between your respective Tree postures. Take your other hand and reach it back behind your partner, giving them a loving embrace. Stay here for 5 full breaths before switching sides.

                      Even though your Tree pose is your own, find the center connection that brings you both together in unity.

                      Allow yourself to feel and appreciate the support you get from your partner, on and especially off the mat.

                      11. Standing Partner Backbend

                        Opening our hearts to each other is the most raw way of showing our vulnerability. That’s why this pose is so powerful in tandem. By using each other for support, you’re reassuring your partner that anything is possible (and better) when you have each other.

                        Start standing and facing each other, as you interlace each other’s forearms. Take a deep breath in as you hold each other’s gaze, and on an exhale, lean back to open your heart to the sky, using each other’s arms as resistance. Stay here for 5 full breaths, or as long as it’s comfortable for you both.

                        Release and end with a hug, honoring the space you’ve created for each other and yourself.

                        Final Thoughts

                        Partner yoga asks for vulnerability. Through the power of touch and synced breathing, we forge deeper and richer connections in our relationship with our partner.

                        The experiences we share together and individually in these yoga postures become topics of communication that can help us learn more about each other and ourselves, further growing our intimacy to heights never felt before.

                        Practice these poses with your partner whenever you are craving that bough of connection or intimacy. Challenge each other with postures that are both energizing and restorative, and tune into each other’s unique experiences for more wholesomeness in your relationship.

                        Featured photo credit: Victor Freitas via unsplash.com

                        Reference

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