There have been hundreds of articles written about how to best prepare for a killer workout, discussing everything from what to eat, which supplements to take, and how to get your mind “right.” However, with this piece I decided to take a different approach and talk about some of the things you should AVOID doing before pushing and pulling the heavy iron!
Ready? Here we go…
Do Not Oversleep: 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. While research shows that a short 20-30 minute “power-nap” can markedly increase energy and focus, sleeping for longer than this will produce the opposite effect, leaving you even more lethargic than before your head hit the pillow.
Do Not Stretch: For a very long time it was thought to be proper “protocol” to statically stretch the muscles before working out with weights, but in recent years scientists have discovered that this is actually counterproductive. Not only can stretching a “cold” muscle lead to injuries such as pulls and strains, but also in addition can actually decrease your strength in exercises involving muscles that have been stretched.
Do Not Perform 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 protecting your ability to gain strength and muscle mass. However, the high intensity nature of HIIT cardio will decrease your power and interfere with the anabolic process if done immediately prior to lifting weights.
Do Not Get Stressed: Stress is truly a “muscle-killer.” 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, try to avoid stressful situations if at all possible before heading to the gym.
Do Not Overdo Stimulants: Certainly there is nothing wrong with consuming some caffeine or a high-quality pre-workout product to give you a boost before training, but I warn you about overdoing it. While moderate levels of stimulants can help enhance energy and focus, too much can lead to rapid heart beat, nausea, anxiety and a feeling of illness, none of which will help you to get a better, more productive workout!
Do Not Overeat: Pre-workout nutrition is essential to getting in an awesome workout and supplying the necessary nutrients for supporting muscle recovery/growth, but like #5 above, too much of a good thing can be hazardous! Eating too much food too close to a workout can cause stomach cramps/pain and nausea, neither 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 directed there than into the muscles, which will decrease the pump and the effectiveness of every exercise.