Six Pre-Workout “Don’ts!”
There have been hundreds of articles written about how one should best prepare for a super intense workout, discussing everything from what foods to eat, which supplements to take, and how to create the right mindset. However, with this piece I decided to take a slightly different approach by talking about some of the things you should AVOID doing before grabbing onto that first heavy DB!
1. Avoid Oversleeping
While there is nothing wrong with taking a short nap in order to recharge your “batteries” before heading to the gym, you should avoid sleeping for any more than about 30 minutes in one shot. While research shows that a short 20-30 minute “power-nap” can markedly increase energy, drive and focus, sleeping for longer than this may actually produce the opposite effect, leaving you even more lethargic than before your head first hit the pillow.
2. Avoid too Much Stretching
For a very long time it was thought to be proper “protocol” to statically stretch the target muscles before working out with weights, but in recent years scientists have discovered that this is a significantly counterproductive practice. Not only can stretching a “cold” muscle lead to injuries such as pulls and strains, but also in addition can actually decrease your strength/power in exercises involving muscles that have been stretched.
3. Avoid HIIT Cardio
There is nothing wrong with performing medium intensity “steady state” cardio before lifting weights, as this is an effective method of burning body fat while still protecting your ability to gain strength and muscle mass. However, the high intensity nature of HIIT cardio will decrease your ability to lift with max intensity and interfere with the anabolic (growth-producing) process if done immediately prior to lifting weights.
4. Avoid Getting Stressed
Stress is truly a powerful “muscle-destroyer.” When one is in a state of stress the body will release higher levels of cortisol, which breaks down muscle tissue and encourages body fat storage. Additionally, stress and worry will severely inhibit your ability to concentrate, limiting muscle fiber activation and quite possibly causing injury due to lack of focus on proper form. So, if possible, try to avoid stressful situations, issues and conversations before heading to the gym.
5. Avoid too Many Stimulants
Certainly, there is nothing wrong with consuming some caffeine or a high-quality pre-workout product to give you a mental/physical boost before training, but I must warn you about overdoing it. While moderate levels of stimulants can help enhance energy and focus, too much can lead to rapid heartbeat, nausea, anxiety and a feeling of illness, none of which will help you to get a better, more productive workout!
6. Avoid Overeating
Pre-workout nutrition is essential to getting in an awesome workout and supplying the necessary nutrients for supporting muscle recovery/growth, but similar to #5 above, too much of a good thing can be hazardous! Consuming an overly large volume of food too close to a workout can cause stomach cramps, pain and nausea, none of which are very conducive to a killer training session. In addition, if your stomach is over burdened with digesting a large quantity of food, then more blood will be diverted there than into the working muscles, which will decrease the pump produced by, and the effectiveness of, every exercise.