You have been sitting at a desk all day and are hyped up and ready to hit the weights, HARD. You look at your watch and you realize you only have 45 minutes to spare for your workout. Do you hop out of your seat, rush over to the gym, and immediately start benching or squatting heavy weights, with no preparation? If you care at all about your body and well being, you should definitely answer NO to this question. I understand that your time is precious and sometimes you may only have 30 minutes to spare, but you MUST properly prepare your body ahead of time to avoid injury. There are also steps that you should take post workout to aid in the recovery of your body. The following is a list of things that you should DEFINITELY NOT DO before and after your workout if you want to reap the full benefits of your hard work.
1) DO NOT eat a big meal ahead of time but also NEVER eat nothing
It is important to not come to the gym overly stuffed, as it may lead to discomfort and nausea during your workout. Right after you eat, a lot of energy is required in the digestion process to properly utilize and store nutrients. During this time, you may notice a decrease in energy. Throughout your workout you need all your energy to flow to your muscles, not your gut, as to promote proper muscle contraction and growth. It is also important to note that you should never work out on an empty stomach either. This may cause light headedness, a steep drop in blood sugar, and lethargy as well.
2) DO NOT eat unhealthy and greasy foods before your workout
When you do eat prior to your workout, make sure that the foods you choose are light and full of healthy nutrients. Foods that are packed with simple carbohydrates, potassium, fiber, and protein are the best choices. A few food items that provide this are fruit (especially bananas and berries), Greek yogurt, whole grain toast, grilled chicken with veggies, hard-boiled eggs, lean turkey, and oats. Try to get at least 30 minutes in between your pre workout meal or snack and your actual workout to avoid feeling sick or sluggish.
2) Never jump straight into a workout without a warm-up
Doing a dynamic warm-up before lifting heavy weights or doing intense cardio will increase your athletic performance and ultimately help you avoid injury. Dynamic stretches, involving flowing movements, are the best as they don’t over stretch your muscles and connective tissue. They do however increase your body temperature and allow for more oxygen and blood to be delivered to your muscles. This is the main reason you should always complete a warm-up.
Your cool down after your workout is when you should do static stretching or foam roller exercises that will help alleviate lactic acid build up and keep your muscles pliable. Static stretching is when you hold a stretch rather than flow through a movement. Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release (self-massage) that not only stretches your muscles but also helps decrease inflammation, prevent muscle soreness, and improve range of motion. It is just as important to complete a cool down as it is a warm up to bring your body back to homeostasis.
3) Don’t jump into a workout without a plan
If you want to utilize your time wisely in the gym then it is so very important to devise a plan and follow through with it. The questions you should ask yourself are; What body part am I going to
work on today? What exercises are well suited to work these muscle groups? How much time am I going to spend doing cardio or a dynamic warm-up before my work out? What type of exercises do I plan on doing after my workout to aid in my recovery?
When you show up to work out without a plan, you spend a lot more time in between exercises figuring out where to go next. At this time your heart rate goes down and you burn less fat and calories. Don’t get me wrong, rest is important between exercises, but you shouldn’t be spending any more than a minute or two between each one. This will ensure your time is used efficiently and your body doesn’t cool down between exercises. Also, if you list out the exercises you plan on doing, you will be more likely to hold yourself accountable to completing all of these exercises rather than just barely getting tired and saying I'm done for the day.
4) Don’t miss out on any sleep before and after a workout.
Sleep is when your body heals itself. Without proper sleep your body will require much more time for recovery and you may even notice that you are sore for longer periods of time. Without sleep your body also stores more fat, due to a higher release of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol encourages this fat storage as a way to help regulate your energy storage. Without sleep you are also less motivated to be active; therefore, more likely to skip the gym.
5) Don’t drink sugar filled drinks, DRINK WATER!
Our bodies are made up mainly of water, at least 60%. Water is required to regulate your bodies temperature, lubricate joints, transport essential nutrients to your muscles and organs for energy, and to promote growth and proper functioning of your muscles. Drinking water has even proven to aid in weight loss because of its ability to boost your metabolism. Without consuming proper amounts of water, you will be more tired, fog brained, and your muscles will require more time for recovery.
Consuming sugary drinks may initially give you a boost in energy, but soon after it will only make you more tired due to their ability to create a spike and then drastic drop in blood sugar. I know that Gatorade and Powerade are advertised as sports drinks, but even these drinks, have high sugar and sodium, so it is smart to cut these drinks with water.
6) Do not skip your post workout meal
After your workout is completed it is important to eat a healthy meal and the type of foods you choose are essential. Incorporating higher amounts of protein and carbohydrates in your post workout meal will help to replenish your glycogen storage and rebuild your muscles that you just tore down. It is common, but not good, to see people binge eat after a tough workout. Please DO NOT do this. It will be counterproductive in your efforts to lose weight especially. A lot of times when your body registers that its hungry it is really water that it craves and needs. So, try drinking a huge glass of water before you eat and this may curb your appetite and help in the process of digestion.
For more healthy tips and a workout that is right for you, set up a FREE Consultation with me today! We would love to help you get started on your pathway to ultimate health and wellness.