During the month of January, you may be making an added effort to get to the gym or head out for that morning run. Losing weight and getting in shape is probably the most popular New Year's resolution, but if you don't do it properly, you can set yourself up for injury and sabotage your results.
Here are the 10 most commonly made mistakes when working out that you should be sure to avoid:
1. Skipping a meal beforehand.
About an hour to an hour and a half before you begin your workout, you need to make sure to eat something to properly fuel your body. Whether you choose a shake or a fork-and-knife meal, make sure your selection includes plenty of protein and carbohydrates to help you sustain your endurance. A simple meal idea would be a almond butter on a whole grain English muffin with an apple.
2. Stretching improperly or not stretching at all.
Loosening up the muscles before exercise is crucial for preventing injury. Five to 10 minutes is ideal to get the blood flowing. However, you don't want to do static stretches right away as they can strain the muscles. Instead, do dynamic stretches, like windmills or front kicks to loosen everything up and prepare you for a successful workout.
3. Dressing inappropriately.
The type of clothing you wear is important for safety. If you're outside, make sure to wear something bright and reflective. All of your clothing, no matter where you're training or what you're doing, should fit comfortably and be made of breathable fabric to wick moisture away from the body to prevent overheating. You should also wear layers so you can easily remove or add them to keep feeling your best. Lastly, footwear is crucial. See a specialist and get fitted for your shoes -- there are styles for running, weight training, dancing and more that will provide the proper support.
4. Becoming dehydrated.
Always hydrate before, during and after your workout. Through your sweat, your body loses electrolytes and water while you train and keeping hydrated prevents cramping as well as dehydration, which is hazardous to your health. Have some water before you begin and keep it with you throughout. Most importantly -- water breaks aren't a sign of weakness, so take them when you need them.
5. Not being prepared for sugar crashes.
No matter the length of your workout, especially if you're going to be training for an extended period of time, you need to be prepared in case your blood sugar drops. Fitness gels come in convenient packs that can be easily eaten on the go. A protein bar is another great option to keep in your pocket or gym bag so you're never without nourishment when you need it.
6. Ignoring that little voice in your head.
You're the best judge of your limits and only you can know when you've pushed yourself too far. Depending on you how much sleep you got, what you've eaten, your health and the stresses in your life, this limit won't always be the same. If you're becoming shaky, dizzy or lightheaded, you need to stop immediately. If you're losing proper form, it's always important to wrap up your session and rest.
7. Passing on post-workout stretches or stretching improperly.
Once your workout is done, it's also key to stretch to prevent injury and long-term damage to muscles and joints. This is the right time for static stretches that you hold for up to a minute, depending on your flexibility and comfort. Lunges and forward bends along with twists can help reduce tension. Just remember, breathe through your stretches and stop if it hurts.
8. Forgoing the post-workout meal.
Eating after you train is just as important as eating beforehand. This meal will help you build lean muscle mass and should be consumed within an hour of ending your workout. Make sure this meal includes plenty of protein to help your muscles repair themselves and grow. Your metabolism is also revved up after you train, so be conscious of your choices (no pizza or cake), but don't worry about eating.
9. Treating sore muscles and injuries improperly.
If you have an existing injury or know you've strained your muscles, you need to take the proper steps to heal them to prevent future damage. Alternating cold and hot packs on sore muscles in 20 minute increments will reduce inflammation and swelling. Also, elevate and injury to reduce swelling. Taken and anti-inflammatory will also help with discomfort.
10. Skipping out on rest days.
Taking days off is just as important as keeping regular workout days. The body needs time to recover and rebuild after strenuous work. You should take at least one day a week, but you also need to continue listening to your body. If you feel one week you pushed it too far and need three days (consecutively or not), take them -- you won't regret it later on.
You can achieve your fitness goals in the new year safely as long as you keep these "don'ts" in mind. Get everything you need at eVitamins Canada for success!