An effective workout isn't only determined by the type of exercise you're doing or for how long. According to experts, what you do before you workout is just as important as what you do during and after. In order to make the most out of your efforts, there are a few key things you should never do before you exercise.
"Having a great workout depends on so much such as your mindset, how you feel physically, and the amount of stress you're under," Sam Stauffer, director of training at Spartan Race, Inc., tells Bustle. "You'll want to do the right things before a workout and avoid all the wrong ones."
For instance, having a solid warm up is an essential part of anyone's pre-workout routine. "I've found that having three to four warm ups to choose from helps a ton," Stauffer says. "I have a warm up routine for when I'm in a hurry, and I have a separate one for when I'm not so pressed for time. Regardless, making sure your body and mind are ready for exercise is incredibly important."
When your mind and body aren't fully ready, it can impact the effectiveness of your workout. So here are some things you should never do before you exercise, according to experts.
1. Not Eat
Don't workout on an empty stomach. "Remember that food is fuel," Jamie Hickey, personal trainer and nutritionist, tells Bustle. "You wouldn't drive your car without any gas, so don't tax your body without giving it the proper nutrients it needs to perform at it's best." According to Hickey, you should at the very least try to eat some fruits, nuts or a carbohydrates 20 to 30 minutes before exercising.
2. Eat Too Much
You may feel the need to workout after eating a big meal, but don't. Wait a bit. "Performing strenuous exercise on a full stomach for some may cause stomach cramps or nausea," Adam Padgett, certified personal trainer, tells Bustle. Even if you don't have this issue, your body won't have enough time to fully digest and assimilate nutrients, which can hinder your performance. "A good gameplan in approaching a workout would be consume a larger meal that's more complex carbohydrate-based (e.g. rice, pasta), one to two hours beforehand," he says.
3. Drink A Lot Of Water
It's important to note that hydration doesn’t occur immediately. As James Shapiro, NYC-based independent trainer, tells Bustle, "Your body and muscles work off a system that utilizes an exchange of sodium, calcium, and potassium for muscle action. Drowning yourself in water right before or during exercise won’t help your dehydrated state." Instead, make it a point to stay properly hydrated throughout the day, or at least 24 hours prior to working out.
4. Start Before Properly Warming Up
If you don't warm up, you can injure yourself very easily by having a "cold muscle." According to certified personal trainer, Olo Onuma, warming up beforehand can make your workouts way more effective. "Warming up loosens the muscles and preps the body for what is to come," Onuma says.
5. Perform Static Stretches
"Contrary to popular belief you shouldn't be performing 'static stretches' before exercising," sports chiropractor, Dr. Alex Tauberg, tells Bustle. These are stretches that you hold for 10 to 20 seconds before holding another position. Many people do this in order to prevent injuries. But according to Dr. Tauberg, this is a big misconception. "Stretching before a workout has not been shown to reduce the chance of getting injured, he says. "On the other hand, static stretching has been shown to reduce the power that your muscles produce after the stretching routine. This can decrease one’s ability to perform at their highest level during a workout." Instead, you should aim for more dynamic stretching like walking lunges or arm swings. These types of pre-workout activities will help to get blood flowing to the area that's about to be used.
6. Exercise On Very Little Sleep
It's not the best idea to exercise on very little sleep. As Dr. Thanu Jey, clinic director at Yorkville Sports Medicine Clinic, tells Bustle, "Your body needs to sleep to recover and provide you with energy for tomorrow, and a lack of sleep compromises your muscles, strength, and can actually put you at risk of fatigue-related injuries." Instead, it's better to get your rest and just tackle your workout with full strength tomorrow.
7. Consume Energy Drinks
"Most of the jazz is in your head and if you continually rely on energy powders or drinks, you won't be able to work out without them," Stauffer says. "Try to get into the routine of working out when you feel energized. That tends to be different times of the day for most people, so hone in on the time of day that makes sense for you." If you must drink something, stick to water, coffee, or tea.
There are so many benefits to exercising regularly from keeping your heart and mind healthy to boosting your productivity and creativity. So if you keep these things in mind, you can be sure your workouts aren't going to waste.