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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 February 14, 2019

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

Starting such a journey is never easy and you must remember this is not a crash diet, it is a lifestyle. Don’t panic and think you have to do it all at once as this will most likely overwhelm you. You may also find yourself giving up because crash diet are not sustainable.

The best approach is to make simple changes to your daily habits and over time, you will notice all your bad habits have turned into good habits.

Accordingly to a study by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behaviour becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.[1] And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.

Here are 15 fitness goals to help you on your journey:

1. Drink More Water

W.H.Auden said it best when he said ‘Thousands Have Lived Without Love, Not One Without Water’. With any diet, the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drinking water will support your body with digestion, transporting nutrition to your body and even help improve cognitive function.

Ideally, you want to drink about half your body weight in ounces per day i.e. if you weight 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day.

Hopefully, by following this rule, you will be able to maintain a consistent consumption of water per day.

2. Add Some Lemon & Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Water

It is recommended we sleep for about 8 hours a day, this means we spend about 8 hours per day dehydrated. Therefore, hydrating your body first thing in the morning is absolutely necessary.

The best way to achieve hydration is by starting your day with a glass or even two of water. For that extra boost, add lemon juice and ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. The lemon and apple cider vinegar will help your body with detoxifying, cleansing and digestion

3. Stop Drinking Your Calories

Yes, keeping hydrated is important but try to avoid high calorie drinks such as soft drinks, speciality coffee and juices as they are full of fast acting sugar.

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Really push yourself to stop drinking such drinks and before you know it, you will notice the benefits.

4. Start Stretching More Often

Always remember to stretch! The benefits are vast and the repercussions of failing to stretch can be dramatic.

Do yourself a favour and always stretch before and after a workout. This will promote a healthy cool down, improve flexibility and reduce next day aches. Failure to stretch can lead to injures and muscle damage.

So, the next time you work out, don’t forget you dedicate a few minutes to stretching before and after your workout. You will thank me for it later!

Here’re some simple stretching exercises you can start trying:

15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

5. Add in Some High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

You may have heard about HIIT training because it is the big thing right now and believe me when I say ‘It works!’.

The benefits include lower body fat, increased stamina, leaner muscles and fantastic hormonal benefits.

HIIT is where you perform an intense exercise, for a very short time frame (about 30 seconds) followed by a slower exercise for about 90 seconds.

Performing a HIIT routine for 1-3 times a week will lead to great results.

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6. Focus on Your Breathing When You Work Out

For the most part, breathing is second nature to most of us. But when exercising, you may find yourself holding your breath and this is not good.

It is important to consciously take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, this will fill your lungs with oxygen.

7. Build More Lean Muscle

We all want to have lean muscles because not only does it look good, it has great health benefits:

  • Improved posture
  • Reduced body fat
  • Improved metabolism
  • Strong bones
  • Protects and improves joint health
  • Improves stamina

Learn more about building muscle in this guide:

How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

8. Decrease Body Fat

This may seem like an obvious one but it is one of the most important steps to a healthier you. Reducing your body fat has a lot of benefits such as:

  • Improved joints and tendons
  • Lowered risk of diabetes
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better performance and endurance
  • Improved appearance and confidence
  • Better hormonal profiles in your body

Remember, it is not a race to see how quickly you can decrease your body fat, a healthy weight loss is around 1-2 pounds a week.[2]

Crash dieting or pushing yourself too much in the gym can lead to you achieving an unrealistic target, and you may find yourself gaining all the weight you have lost.

Think of it as a lifestyle and take it slow and steady.

9. Eat More Greens

What you eat is the most important factor in a healthier living plan. It is important to ensure you are getting as many nutrients and vitamins from the food you are eating as possible.

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Focus on dark, leafy greens as they will provide you with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants – all of which you body needs!

Don’t forget to avoid processed and manufactured food. They are usually high in fat and have minimal vitamins.

10. Start Eliminating Sugar

Another top goal you can start immediately is reducing the amount of sugar you consume. It also won’t cost you anything, save you money and improve your health in the long run.

There’s no surprise we eat too much sugar and this should be one of your top goals moving forward (eliminating or drastically reducing sugar).

Cutting out liquid calories is a great way to start. If you’re looking for something sweet, turn to fruits or even dark chocolate.

11. Allow Yourself to Rest and Recovery

The workout is where you go to breakdown the muscle tissue and it builds back through proper nutrition, rest and recovery. It might be tempting to go to the gym for two hours every day as hard as you can to achieve your goals but that’s not the most effective approach.

If you don’t allow for proper rest and recovery, it can set you back a few steps. Your body is more prone to injury and even illness as you can weaken your immune system from all the progressive intensity the body is facing.

12. Get More Sleep

When you are deprived of sleep, you make it next to impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals. Lack of sleep can increase stress hormones in your body and over time these can lead to a lot of inflammation and chronic diseases.[3]

Make sleep a priority to let your body heal and rejuvenate. A good approach is 7 to 8 hours. Also, allow yourself some wind-down time and a pre-bed routine to help get more consistent sleep every night.

13. Focus on the Habit and Not the Result

It’s easy to get caught up in trying to achieve a certain look or shed time off of your mile, but the more important focus is on the habit that will bring you those goals.

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Don’t look at the scale, the tape measure, or the body fat percentage. Focus on the habits that will lead to those achievements.

Don’t compare yourself to where others are, you’re right where you need to be.

14. Take Your Fitness Outside

This may be hard depending on the weather you experience, but the more you can be outside exposed to fresh air and sunlight, the better.

Being stuck in the gym doing cardio while staring at a wall won’t do much for your mental stimulation.

Try to challenge your body more by getting outside. Hiking is great and also just running and walking. Give yourself more mental stimulation and a constantly changing environment. It also beats breathing in that recycled gym air.

15. Do at Least One Pull Up

This is a great last goal to focus on because it’s a great test of strength and to see how you are progressing with your fitness.

If you haven’t been able to do one, you know what a challenge it can be. Having the goal of doing at least one pull up will not only show you how far you’ve progressed but is a great way to become dedicated and motivated.

The Bottom Line

It will become more attainable through the year if you’re consistent with your fitness. Set yourself a concrete timeline as when you want to accomplish some or all of these goals. In fact, start making one of these goals happen this month!

This guide on achieving goals will be helpful for you:

How to Set Goals and Achieve Them Successfully

Featured photo credit: ivan Torres via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Phillippa Lally: How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world
[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
[3] Unity Point: The Scary Truth About Sleep Deprivation and Chronic Diseases

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