6 Things You Should Never do Before a Workout

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  1. Cold Stretch

Stretching your muscles before warming them up can be detrimental to your workout because it doesn’t fully allow the muscles to expand the way they should, making it easier to strain them. Think of it this way: most objects get more brittle when they’re cold and more flexible when they’re warm; the same thing goes for your muscles. Even just one lap around the track – or two to three minutes on the treadmill – is enough to warm up your muscles for a beneficial pre-workout stretch.

  1. Not get enough sleep

Energy is essential for a solid workout. If you’re running on four hours of sleep, your mind and body both are not functioning to their full ability, which can lead you to become overly exhausted or lack the motivation necessary for a great workout. Make sure you get at least seven hours of sleep each night, especially when you know you’ll be doing a long gym session the following day. The same thing can be said for oversleeping. According to Livestrong, if you’re tired after work, only take a 20-30 minute “power nap” pre-workout. Any longer than that and you’ll wake up feeling groggy – and no longer in the mood to go to the gym.

  1. Leave the house on an empty stomach

Food gives you energy just like sleep does. Carbohydrates and protein both are essential for getting a beneficial workout. Carbohydrates give you the energy necessary to complete your workout (and still feel good at the end of it) while protein helps you build muscle. Going to the gym on an empty stomach means your body has nothing to work with. But don’t be so quick to grab that container of lo mein on your way out – fatty foods slow the body down. Instead, try eating something that incorporates both carbs and protein, like a half of a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread.

  1. Drink Alcohol

You had plans to head to the gym after work but got invited out for drinks with your new coworkers – either go to the gym or stick to iced tea, because, aside from the obvious bad idea of going to the gym drunk, even one drink can affect other things such as your hydration level. Going to the gym dehydrated will cause you to feel sluggish, and the lack of electrolytes can lead to potentially deadly heat stroke. Always keep your body hydrated – AKA, avoid alcohol prior to working out.

  1. Drink too much too quickly

While being hydrated is essential for a great workout, drinking too much water in too short of an amount of time can have negative effects on your body. The kidneys are able to process about one liter of water per hour, so downing two water bottles fifteen minutes before you hit the gym will only hurt your body, not help it. Instead, drink steadily throughout the day to make sure you stay hydrated and your body stays healthy.

  1. Too many other things!

This is more mental than physical. Exercising when you first wake up is a great way to keep your workout routine consistent. If you do too many errands or activities prior to heading to the gym, oftentimes the clock ticks by without you even noticing how much time has passed. Before you know it, you’ve made an excuse why you don’t have enough time to work out today. When you add a million things to your agenda, you prioritize them in order of importance. If working out is not a way of life for you, it won’t be prioritized highly and will be one of the first things you bump from the list when you realize you don’t have time for everything. Try to work out in the morning; you’ll make sure to get that work out in and feel great afterward.

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I’m a journalism major at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. Also a pizza lover and ice cream connoisseur.

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