There are few worse feelings in fitness than skipping a workout. One of them, in my opinion, is putting all that time and effort into your workout, only to feel like you’re not getting the most out of them. Hey, you might even feel like you’re not making progress at all. You know how to perform all your workouts, your diet is on point, and you’re taking the right supplements, but something just seems off. What could it be?
Well, if you’re having trouble making progress, and you’re sure you’re not doing anything wrong during or after your workout, perhaps you need to look at what you’re doing before your workout.
Your pre-workout routine is just as important as what you do during and after your workouts. You may often find yourself surprised by the fact that some simple missteps can greatly affect your workout routine. If you’re not sure what you could be doing wrong, I’ll give you five of the most common pre-workout mistakes people tend to make that greatly hinders their potential for gains.
If you’re looking at this list and you’re sure you’re doing everything right, then my suggestion is that you speak with a professional trainer. A professional trainer can supervise your routine and understand your diet in a way that will allow them to properly assist you.
With that, here are five mistakes you can make pre-workout that can put a damper on your performance.
You’re Only Relying on Static Stretches
When you do your warm up (which is a necessity before every workout), the stretches you do are very important for getting your body prepared for the workout to come. With the endless amount of stretches there are, you’re going to have to pick and choose which ones are best for you. However, I can say for a fact that you should not be relying on static exercises.
That’s not to say these stretches aren’t good — they’re absolutely helpful to increase blood flow and improve flexibility. However, it’s best to do these stretches after you work out, instead of before.
Now, I want you to hold onto your hats because you may be surprised to hear this: static exercises can actually diminish your performance. That’s right, these staples of the fitness world can actually do your workout harm.
See, these stretches involve holding single positions for a long period of time, which can actually decrease your strength and raise your risk of pulling/straining a muscle. Instead, try some warmup exercises that get your blood pumping and prepare you for a real workout.
Mistakes with Pre-Workout Supplements
So, this can apply to a few common mistakes people make.
One thing that people trip up on is the fact that they take their pre-workout supplements while dehydrated. This can lead to you feeling lethargic and just too tired to do a proper workout, especially if you are taking something like niacin.
There’s also the issue of serving sizes. If you take too little, it may just end up not doing anything for your body. If you take too much, however, you run the risk of experiencing side effects such as nausea and (if your workouts are in the evening) trouble sleeping.
Lastly, there’s the issue of what’s inside the supplements. Read reviews to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth, and look up ingredients such as caffeine, which tends to give people the jitters or simply give you an upset stomach or headaches.
Not Eating Before You Lift
One of the worst things you can do is walk into a workout on an empty stomach. This is especially true if you’re trying to lift. There’s a large misconception that by lifting on an empty stomach, you’ll burn more fat, but that simply isn’t true.
When you do some heavy workouts on an empty stomach, it causes your body to go catabolic faster, which means your body will pull energy from elsewhere in order to sustain your workout. They do this by targeting the largest source of energy in the body, and no, it isn’t fat; it’s muscle.
If you’re trying to build muscle during your workouts, you need to make sure you’re getting the energy you need from a proper meal. If you don’t, you could literally be commanding your body to eat away at your muscle, and nobody wants that.
However, some may not mention that the exact opposite is true as well. Not only do you need to make sure you’re eating enough before every workout, but you should also make sure you’re not eating too much.
Your Pre-Workout Meal Being Too Heavy
I know we just said that a pre-workout meal is vital for a fruitful workout, but so is eating too much before you set off to gain some muscle.
If you eat too much before you work out, you could experience acid reflux, cramping, nausea, and a greatly hindered performance overall. Not to mention, a full stomach can prevent your body from immediately burning up fat for fuel. If you’re on a serious weight loss journey, that’s just about the last thing you want to hear.
You also need to watch what you’re eating. Try to avoid foods with a high fat content, as they can really slow down digestion. Leave the avocados and whatnot for your post-workout meal. I suggest eating fruits before your workout, as those have been proven to increase endurance. If you also want to be a little kinder to your kidneys and liver, you can go for whole foods instead of supplements. If you want, you can also add in a few sips of caffeine to help your workout, whether that be with coffee or caffeinated water and the like.
Drinking Too Much the Night Before
Alcohol is a fit body’s worst enemy, and for a number of reasons. Alcohol usage in general decreases your overall physical fitness and can severely hamper your ability to achieve your goals. It has no nutritional value, contains lots of empty calories, and depending on what drink you’re using, you’re no doubt consuming tons of carbs.
That’s just with fitness in general, though, and referring to those who drink fairly regularly. If you tend to abstain, is there still harm in having a few drinks the night before? Well, besides putting yourself back a workout, it’s only serious harm if you’re drinking too heavily. How so? Well, for one, drinking too heavily can lead to dehydration, which is not something you want during a workout. If you drank enough to cause a hangover, that can obviously be a problem. If alcohol is still in your bloodstream, you can be affected by poor motor skills and coordination. This, in turn, can cause you to be injured while working out.
Also: I don’t think I need to tell you that one of the worst, and I mean the worst things you can do is drink while working out. You are asking for trouble then. With slowed reaction time and judgment, using heavy machinery, or even just going it on your own, can cause injury. Full stop: do not drink while you are working out, and this applies to pretty much most recreational drugs.
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