1. Leave the house on an empty stomach or overeating
Food gives you energy just like sleep does. Carbohydrates and protein both are essential for getting a beneficial workout. Carbohydrates give you the energy necessary to complete your workout (and still feel good at the end of it) while protein helps you build muscle. Going to the gym on an empty stomach means your body has nothing to work with. But don’t be so quick to grab that container of lo mein on your way out – fatty foods slow the body down. Instead, try eating something that incorporates both carbs and protein, like a half of a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread.
2. Drink too much water
There’s no denying the importance of staying hydrated, but being overly hydrated before your workout can be counterproductive. You may think you’ll hydrate your body before a sweat-it-out session, but in reality, drinking more than two glasses of water before hitting the gym could do more harm than help. All that H2O mixed with sprints and jumps could cause cramps, nausea, and in rare cases, a condition called hyponatremia, where your blood gets diluted and your body’s sodium ion levels drop too low. The result? Loss of energy, cramps, and severe weakness.
3. Drink Alcohol
You had plans to head to the gym after work but got invited out for drinks with your new coworkers – either go to the gym or stick to iced tea, because, aside from the obvious bad idea of going to the gym drunk, even one drink can affect other things such as your hydration level. Going to the gym dehydrated will cause you to feel sluggish, and the lack of electrolytes can lead to potentially deadly heat stroke. Always keep your body hydrated – AKA, avoid alcohol prior to working out.
4. Take a Painkiller
What’s that headache or sore muscle pill got to do with your treadmill, you ask? For one, most painkillers are muscle relaxants, so taking one before your workout means you won’t be getting the best out of your session. But even more serious is this: popping an anti-inflammatory pill like ibuprofen before exercising could cause injury to the small intestine, found studies.
5. Over or underdressing
Your workout and environment should determine the best gear for you. Proper apparel depends on what you’ll be doing, and where you’ll be doing it. But still, it’s important to reach the appropriate gear decisions based on your individual workout routine. Would you pack heavy sweats to wear to the resort gym during your tropical vacation? Probably not. Similarly, it’s unlikely you would do the same when you hop on the treadmill at your gym.