While every minute you spend exercising can help you achieve your fitness goals, what you do pre-workout is actually just as important. After all, how you prepare for a workout can spell the difference between it being a success or a struggle.
What you do before working out can sabotage your efforts. It can even lead to orthopedic injuries if you are not careful.
Below are some pre-workout mistakes that can put a wrench in your exercise efforts, plus fixes you can quickly implement.
1. Skipping the Warm-Up
When crunched for time, it can be tempting to forego your warm-up and jump straight into your workout. You’re warming up as you’re moving anyway, right? Wrong! If anything, you should consider warming up before any workout.
Otherwise, you will be putting too much stress on your muscles drastically. Professional athletes spending ten or more minutes warming up before a sporting event is no coincidence. If they don’t, there’s a huge risk they will get injured.
Spend at least five to ten minutes warming up before jumping into your workouts. Walking and jogging on the treadmill are just some of the ways you can get the blood flowing to the body’s working muscles.
Finish the workout through dynamic moves like lunges, squats, and walking leg swings to prepare the body for the workout.
2. Forgetting to Eat
Have you ever rolled out of bed and hit the gym before even eating anything? Skipping a meal and heading straight to the gym is something many people are guilty of. This is especially true among those who have an insane schedule.
However, not eating before working out is a mistake. If you can’t sit down for a full meal, at least have a protein-rich snack before doing any strenuous physical activity. Eating a small amount of protein can also help support muscle growth.
If you don’t have time to eat a full meal, at least have a nutritious snack. Have a smoothie made with one cup of low-fat milk and a cup of frozen fruit or an English muffin topped with some hummus.
3. Running on Empty
Sleep is crucial for your overall health. However, not everyone is aware that it can have a massive impact on your workout as well. Working when you are tired (or sleepy) can lead to a higher risk of injury. This is especially true if you’ll do high-intensity workouts.
It is during sleep that the muscles recover. If you are not getting enough of it, you will not get back to 100 percent between workouts. If you put constant physical stress on the body without giving it time to recover, you will eventually crash.
4. Not Preparing Yourself Mentally
There will be days when getting out of bed to exercise is a feat in itself. However, you must ground yourself before every workout and prepare yourself mentally for your exercise session.
Most people rush through their days (and their workouts) without being present. However, when doing something physically intensive like working out, not being present might put you at a greater risk of getting injured.
Prepare yourself mentally by spending at least five minutes meditating or doing some breathwork.
Set an intention for your workout and ensure you stay in the moment. The more in the moment you are while you work out, the better your gains will be.
5. Not Hydrating Enough
Water can help lubricate your joints and regulate your body temperature so you can move with ease. It can also maximize performance by helping transport nutrients to the muscles.
So if you are dehydrated even before you start sweating, you are already putting yourself at a disadvantage.
Even if you are only doing low to moderate intensity workouts that last less than an hour, you still need to make sure you hydrate properly before exercising.
If you are preparing for an intense and prolonged workout session, it would be best to add electrolytes to your drink. Electrolytes are essential, so the muscles and the heart work accordingly. The more you sweat, the more electrolytes you will lose. That said, you must replace them right away if you want to perform and feel your best.
If you want to make the most of your workouts, ensure you create a pre-workout routine that works for you. Also, you must cover all the bases so you will be able to achieve all your fitness objectives with ease.
About Dr. Kaelin
Dr. Charles R. Kaelin received his medical degree from the University of Louisville, Kentucky, and completed his orthopaedic training at Orlando Regional Center in Orlando, Florida.
Dr. Kaelin also received training in Sports Medicine at Alabama Sports Medicine with Dr. Lemak, specializing in sports medicine and workman’s compensation injuries. He has been a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) since 1990.
He is a charter member of the International Cartilage Research Society, a Founding member of the AAOS Education Enhancement Fund (AAOS), and a past editorial board member for the American College of Sports Medicine Health and Fitness Journal.