Everyone has a routine they follow prior to the start of their workout -- whether you do it at the gym or at home or go run around the park, there are things you do to get started that you probably think are good for your workout, or at least won’t do you any harm. But think again, Schwarzenegger! There are a lot of potentially harmful things you might be doing for your pre-workout routine. Check this list out to see how many, if any, you need to drop like a hot potato:
The water chug
This is not about staying hydrated during your workout -- that’s just plain common sense. But some gung-ho guys and gals like to chug a quart or more of H2O before they even start working out. And that’s a bad idea. Your stomach doesn’t like being jiggled around while it absorbs that much liquid, whether it’s just plain water or Red Bull or kombucha, which can lead to an upset stomach, heartburn, or even some unpleasant backwash.
Sky high expectations
There’s a difference between pushing yourself and killing yourself. Everyone loves Rocky when he’s going up those steps, sweaty and exhausted, after a killer workout. And everyone wants to be a Rocky when it comes to a savage, no-holds-barred workout. That’ll show everybody you’re no wimp! Right. If that’s what you decide prior to your workout you’re bound to be both disappointed and exhausted -- not to mention maybe blowing out a knee or elbow or doing some permanent damage to a muscle or two. Take it slow and steady, and be sensitive to what your body is telling you during your workout -- if the pain is sharp and constant during and/or after your workout you’ve gone too far. Take it down a notch. Nobody ever dies from under-exerting themselves.
Mind over muscle
At the same time you do need to develop a positive mental attitude about your exercise regime. If you’re approaching it with a ‘martyr’ complex you won’t enjoy your workout and chances are you’ll never really push yourself to get the most out of it. Also, if you’ve had a bad day make sure to mentally push your anger and frustration aside the minute you hit the gym. Don’t let an overlong commute or crummy work project get in the way of a great workout.
It’s understandable to want that artificial boost that comes from caffeine just before a workout, but resist the temptation. Unless you’ve drunk four cups in a row(and who can afford that?) your energy levels will crash during your workout, leaving you feeling like crap on a cupcake. And this goes double for alcohol. Never drink before a workout. Even one beer or daiquiri will affect your sense of balance to some extent, leaving you vulnerable to all sorts of nasty accidents from a stubbed toe to a cranial concussion.
Stuff your face!
Nope. Don’t do it. Your stomach needs lots of energy and blood to digest a meal, and that can lead to cramps or even syncope while you’re exercising. Never worry about feeling hungry prior to a workout -- by the time you’re done your appetite will have disappeared for at least a good hour.
Forget the stretching
Only if you enjoy getting a charley horse. A five minute stretch warmup prior to a workout lets your body know that some hard work is coming its way -- that gives it a chance to start producing the right set of chemicals to prime your muscles and to lower the salt content of your sweat.