Sometimes when you go to the gym, you have a great experience: you have energy, you feel enthused, and your body’s just working well. But then, sometimes you have workouts that just don’t click: you feel drained and weak, you have a hard time concentrating, and you just have a generally lousy time. What makes the difference? They say that preparation is half the battle, and this is definitely true with exercise. What you do before you work out can be as important (or even more so) than what you actually do during your workout time. Here are 5 things that you should make sure you avoid before your workouts.
1. Skipping Sleep
Sleep is incredibly important. In addition to supporting your mental and emotional health, it is crucial to helping you get the most out of your exercise. A lack of sleep contributes to an increased incidence of accidents and injuries (something you don’t want when you’re lifting heavy weights), impairs your alertness (which is bad for if you’re trying to compete physically or are trying to learn new exercises), and lowers your energy and mood.
If you’re exercising to improve your health, missing out on sleep has been shown to increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. If you’re trying to put on muscle, a lack of sleep will keep your body from repairing its muscles as efficiently, and it may lower your level of testosterone and other important muscle-building hormones. And if you’re trying to lose weight, missing out on sleep also makes you more likely to gain weight.
2. More Working Out
While exercise is great, there can always be too much of a good thing. If you’ve just finished a marathon, you should rest, not immediately head into the gym and start trying to do squats. Sometimes when amateur athletes decide they want to kick things up a notch, they think that more time exercising is always better, and this is simply not the case.
The body needs time after working out to repair micro-tears to muscles, to replenish energy stores, and even to make sure that the immune system is working optimally. There is a lot of disagreement about exactly how many rest days a person needs, probably because people’s needs are different. The more intense your workout, the more time you need for rest and recovery. Also, the less in shape you are, the more recovery time you'll probably need.
Be on the lookout for signs of overtraining such as increasing discomfort and soreness, an increasing resting heart rate, worsened sleep, fatigue, and depressed mood. If you see these, you should probably rest more. Of course, resting doesn’t have to mean being entirely still. It may just mean temporarily moving to a gentler sort of activity, such as walking, yoga or pilates.
3. Eating the Wrong Food
Everybody probably knows that downing a hamburger, fries and milkshake just before you lift isn’t going to give you the best workout session. It’s fairly obvious that you should avoid eating fat just before your workout. However, there are some other things you want to avoid that may be less intuitive.
Eating large amounts of protein within an hour of your workout may also be problematic, because protein takes a long time to digest. Similarly, although fiber is ordinarily incredibly important and helpful for health, it also takes a long time to digest. Having undigested food in your stomach while you work out makes exercising more difficult and may lead to cramps.
Instead, try eating a small snack of low-fiber carbohydrates. This will give you energy without weighing you down.
4. Static Stretches
Although stretching is good, it can lead to problems if you do static stretching (the kind where you stretch a muscle and then hold it) before exercising. Doing this sort of stretching before a workout can lead to reduced muscular performance and an increased chance of injury.
Instead, save your static stretching for after the workout, and do dynamic stretching (stretching where you continuously move your joints and muscles through their range of motion) before your workout.
5. Getting Drunk
If you want to kill it at the gym, don’t get drunk the night before. Alcohol is, of course, caloric and can make it difficult to lose weight (if that is your goal). But more to the point, a hangover can leave you dehydrated, nauseated and with a splitting headache—hardly a state that lends itself to getting in a really good workout. If you keep your drinking to a minimum before you work out, it’ll be much easier to go the distance, and you’ll have a better time doing it.
Source: Fitness Republic
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