6 Pre-Workout Mistakes You Need to Stop Making

Posted by Nicole on March 6

Before you exercise, it is important to have an effective pre-workout routine.

This can incorporate your warm-ups as well as rest, food, water and supplements leading up to your regular exercise.

A lot of people make mistakes before warming up that end up causing them unnecessary fatigue and increasing their chances of injuries or other problems.

Let’s go over some common pre-workout mistakes that you might be making and what you can do to avoid them in the future for a better workout experience.

1. Skipping the warm-up.

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is to launch headlong into your exercises without doing any sort of warm-ups at all.

Some people do this because they do not know any better. Others may do it because they simply are pressed for time and think it won’t be that big a deal.

But warming up is a crucial part of any exercise routine.

Mayo Clinic explains, “Warming up helps prepare your body for aerobic activity. A warmup gradually revs up your cardiovascular system by raising your body temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles. Warming up may also help reduce muscle soreness and lessen your risk of injury.”

What constitutes a good warm-up? Mayo Clinic says, “Begin by doing the activity and movement patterns of your chosen exercise, but at a low, slow pace that gradually increases in speed and intensity. This is called a dynamic warmup.”

So, if you are a runner, for example, walking is a good way to warm up.

2. Not warming up long enough.

Another common mistake with warm-ups is simply not putting enough time into them.

A good warm-up should last around 5-10 minutes. If you will be doing different types of exercises, you may need a 5-10 minute warm-up for each of them.

But when people are in a hurry or they just find warming up tedious, they sometimes are tempted to spend less time doing it.

They might walk briskly for a minute or two before launching into a full run, for example.

But that generally is not sufficient, and won’t adequately prepare your body for your exercise.

Also, do you by any chance experience exercise-induced headaches?

Mayo Clinic advises, “A warm-up prior to strenuous exercise also can help prevent exercise headaches.”

If you skimp on your warm-up, you are more likely to find yourself with a migraine or another type of headache.

3. Static stretching.

When you were growing up, you probably were assigned static stretching in gym class as a “warm-up” routine.

As a result, you might assume that static stretching is an appropriate way to warm up to exercise.

In actuality, if anything, it may something you should stay away from.

Here is a meta-analysis that looked at 104 studies between 1966 and 2010. The researchers found that strength, power, and explosive performance actually suffered when static stretching was the only thing performed as a warm-up.

Furthermore, it is actually dangerous to stretch “cold” muscles.

Mayo Clinic writes, “Don't consider stretching a warmup. You may hurt yourself if you stretch cold muscles. Before stretching, warm up with light walking, jogging or biking at low intensity for five to 10 minutes. Even better, stretch after your workout when your muscles are warm.”

Mayo Clinic also comments on another common mistake that people make when stretching, saying, “Don't bounce. Stretch in a smooth movement, without bouncing. Bouncing as you stretch can injure your muscle and actually contribute to muscle tightness.”

4. Not sleeping enough.

A proper pre-workout routine actually begins the night before. The amount of sleep you get could actually can have an impact on the likelihood of being injured the next day while you are exercising.

You can view a study here on chronic sleep loss and adolescent sports injuries.

The researchers wrote, “Sleep deprivation and increasing grade in school appear to be associated with injuries in an adolescent athletic population. Encouraging young athletes to get optimal amounts of sleep may help protect them against athletic injuries.”

Sleep is necessary for your body’s repair functions, and cell damage is more likely if you do not get enough of it.

So, regardless of your age, try and get plenty of sleep the night before you work out.

5. Insufficient hydration.

Another pre-workout mistake that is pretty basic but still quite pervasive is not drinking enough water.

You need to be hydrated going into a workout, and you need to continue to replenish your fluids while you are exercising.

If you do not, you will suffer the symptoms of dehydration, including headache, weakness, dizziness, confusion, and so forth.

6. Not fueling up.

Working out on an empty stomach may help with fat burning, but it isn’t appropriate if you are trying to build muscle.

Instead, you should make sure that you fuel up with an energy source like healthy fats, and that you eat some protein before you exercise.

Eating before you work out is also smart since it helps you stock up on electrolytes, which you will be losing through your sweat.

But make sure you do not overeat. It can be an unpleasant experience to work out on an overly full stomach, and it also may contribute to weight gain as you may overestimate how many calories you are burning versus how many you are consuming.

7. Skipping the right supplements, or wasting money on the wrong ones.

Are you blowing hundreds of dollars on pre-workout supplements, and still not getting the results you are after?

It’s time to stop spending so much money on all the latest stacks that are “guaranteed” to bulk you out.

Instead, stick with the basics, like creatine and electrolytes (i.e. magnesium, zinc, calcium, copper, potassium, etc.).

The creatine can help fight dehydration and injuries and boost your results from strength training.

The electrolytes will help replenish the important nutrients you will be losing when you sweat.

Avoid Pre-Workout Mistakes to Prevent Injuries and Improve Gains

A lot of people make pre-workout mistakes like improper or insufficient warm-ups, skipping out on a full night of sleep, or not eating and hydrating sufficiently before exercising.

By avoiding these mistakes, you can reduce issues with dehydration, prevent injuries, and enjoy superior results from your workouts.