What NOT to Do Before a Workout

by | Jun 9, 2015 | Last updated Feb 15, 2022

Figuring out how to best set yourself up for your workout can be confusing. Should you stretch? How much should you eat? When is the best time to hit the gym? These tips should help point you in the direction, and set you up for an optimal workout.
Don’t eat too much or too soon before your workout. Optimally, you should finish your pre-workout meal an hour before you start your activity. This allows food to digest and prevents cramping. Check out this list for some pre-workout meal ideas including trail mix or quinoa with chicken and veggies.
Limit static stretching. Stretching before warming up can lead to injuries. While this may seem counterintuitive, your muscles are fresh before a workout and won’t stretch as far as they would post-workout. Try some dynamic movements to activate your muscles and warm your body up for the workout ahead instead.
Don’t eat food high in fat. Fat is necessary to any balanced diet, but it is the slowest processed nutrient, so it may not be totally broken down in your digestive system by the time you’re ready to workout. Focus on protein and carbohydrates, which process faster and will give you just the energy boost you need to give it your all.
Don’t overwork yourself. If you’re feeling sick or overtired, don’t push yourself. Mayo Clinic suggests that if your illness is below the neck (i.e. a stomach bug or a chest cold), it’s best to stay home and rest. As for fatigue, try to be fair to yourself. Have you been working hard all week and you woke up for a workout feeling exhausted? Give yourself a break. The body needs time to repair its muscles – a rest day will do your body and mind well.
Test out these tips to see what works best for you. Some people prefer eating a complete meal before working out, others can just eat a handful of pretzels. Experiment to see what leaves you feeling your best during your workout. And remember, have fun!