Three things you should never do before a workout

January 2, 2013

When you’ve finally found the motivation to hop on that elliptical machine, you’ll want to make sure you get the best and safest workout possible. Although your workout is important, what you do before your workout can actually make a difference in your exercise plan and progress! Make sure to avoid these pre-workout blunders to ward off injury and shed off those excess pounds.

Never skip stretching
Stretching before exercising is one of the best ways to prevent injury. It loosens up your muscles and gets them warm for an intense workout. Improving Your World says that when muscles are stiff, your overall fitness will be negatively affected. When you have more flexible muscles before a workout, you’re likely to have full range of motion. The Mayo Clinic said that stretching also increases blood flow to the muscles. However, it’s important to remember to never stretch cold. Yes, stretching is important, but stretching when the muscles are cold can lead to injury.

“Instead, warm up with five minutes of light cardio or start off slow for the first 10 minutes of your run, bike ride or swim,” explained Self magazine.

Never work out on an empty stomach
Working out before you’ve eaten anything can cause muscle loss, according to the Strength and Conditioning Journal. Brad Schoenfeld, president of Global Fitness Services and a professor in the department of exercise science at Lehman College, spoke on this, saying:

“When you’re hungry, your body goes into survival mode and draws protein away from muscle, where it’s less crucial to survival, than from your kidneys and liver, where the body normally looks for protein.”

When you lose the muscle mass you worked so hard for at the gym, your metabolism slows down, making it all the more difficult to slim down. However, it’s important to keep in mind that eating too much or eating the wrong foods can really be detrimental to your workout as well. Eating too much can leave you feeling less energized and even lead to cramping, producing a lower quality workout. U.S. News and World Report suggested you avoid salty french fries and carbonated drinks – i.e. carbs and sugar – before any workout. This is a good way to give yourself and upset stomach and a not-so-great workout. Instead, Her Campus recommended Greek yogurt, toast with peanut butter or fruit.

Never workout dehydrated
Because our bodies are about two-thirds water, it’s vital for your body to get enough H20 for an effective workout. Her Campus suggested drinking one glass prior to your workout to ensure that you’re hydrated. But, don’t overdo it! Drinking too much can leave you feeling full and bloated.