Whether you’re a gym junkie or a low-key fitness enthusiast, hitting the gym is a key part of your fitness routine. And you already know all the tips and tricks to making every workout sesh count – having a killer playlist, performing the right warmups, hitting the weights hard. That’s great because cultivating the right pre-exercise habits can go a long way towards ensuring you’re getting the biggest bang for your workout buck. That said, there are some things you should never – and we mean never, ever – do before a workout. Like these four workout-wrecking mistakes.
#1 Drinking alcohol
While it may be tempting for you to hit the bars for happy hour and a quick pick-me-up before heading to the gym, consuming any amount of alcohol before your workout is a huge no-no. Besides impairing your coordination, motor skills and judgement, alcohol also lowers your blood sugar levels, which can lead to anything from shakiness and weakness to flat-out injury. So if you’re having a bad day and really need a drink, you’re better off skipping your gym session and putting back a little extra the next day.
#2 Eating a huge meal
Fueling up before a workout is important but you also have to watch what you eat. Stuffing your face at a buffet before going to the gym will make you sluggish, give you heartburn and drastically affect your workout performance. Chomping down on a burger pre-workout means your body has to initiate internal functions to break down the food while providing an adequate blood supply to your muscles, which can seriously hinder physical performance. If you really have to eat before a workout, stick with easily digestible foods like fruit and carbs that will help you power through your fitness regime.
#3 Chugging too much water
Staying hydrated during your workout is crucial but being overly hydrated can be counterproductive. Downing too much water just before a gym sesh puts you at risk of developing a rare, serious condition known as water intoxication, which, at its worse, is life-threatening. Not forgetting having a bellyful of water while you’re doing intense exercises like sprints and jumps can cause you to cramp and feel nauseated.
To avoid this, drink water consistently throughout the day so you won’t have to chug a gallon to stay hydrated before your workout.
#4 Sleeping too little
If you’ve ever worked out on no sleep or just a few hours of shut-eye, you’ll know how important sleep is for your workout. Sleep deprivation not only affects coordination but also messes with your ratings of perceived exertion, making exercise feel harder than it actually is. More importantly, too little rest prevents your body from recuperating, increasing the chances of injury.
Didn’t get enough sleep? Catch a quick power nap before the gym or skip your workout entirely so you can start fresh tomorrow.
Know other pre-workout things to avoid? Share your stories and questions in the comments below!