6 Pre-Workout Mistakes That Are Costing You Gains

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Cross Training For Runners
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David Dack

Imagine this scenario: You’ve got your workout plan locked and loaded, your favorite gym playlist queued up, and you’re ready to crush your training session. You’ve heard it’s all about the exercises, sets, and reps, right?

Well, hold your horses, fitness enthusiast! While what you do during your workout is undoubtedly vital, what happens in the moments leading up to it can either be your secret weapon or your downfall.

In today’s post, we’re about to unveil the undercover culprits that might be sabotaging your training progress. These are the pre-workout mistakes that, unbeknownst to you, have been lurking in the shadows, undermining your fitness goals.

So, if you’re dead serious about maximizing your exercise routine, stick around, and let’s shine a light on these six pre-workout blunders you need to steer clear of, like a plague threatening to steal your gains.

Static Stretching

Static stretching, where you hold a stretch for an extended period before exercise, is no longer recommended as part of a warm-up routine. Research has shown that static stretching can reduce muscle strength and power, potentially increasing the risk of injury, especially when performed before vigorous exercise.

Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, involves active movements that mimic the exercises or activities you’ll be doing during your workout. These dynamic stretches help increase blood flow, improve range of motion, and prepare your muscles for the specific movements you’ll be performing.

Here are some examples of dynamic stretches you can include in your warm-up routine:

  • Leg Swings: Stand next to a wall or support and swing one leg forward and backward, then side to side.
  • Arm Circles: Extend your arms out to the sides and make small circles, gradually increasing the size of the circles.
  • Butt Kicks: Walk or jog in place while kicking your heels up towards your glutes
  • High Knees: March in place while lifting your knees as high as possible with each step.
  • Hip Circles: Stand with your hands on your hips and make circular motions with your hips in both directions.

 Skipping The Warm-up

Skipping a warm-up can increase the risk of injury and negatively affect your workout performance. A proper warm-up helps prepare your body for exercise by gradually increasing your heart rate, improving blood circulation to your muscles, and enhancing joint mobility.

Dynamic stretching, light aerobic activities, and mobility exercises are excellent components of a warm-up routine. They help activate your muscles and prime your nervous system for the workout ahead. Static stretching should indeed be saved for the post-workout cooldown, as it can be counterproductive if done before exercise.

A typical warm-up routine might include activities like light jogging, jumping jacks, leg swings, arm circles, and bodyweight exercises. Spending 10 to 15 minutes on a warm-up can go a long way in enhancing your overall workout experience and reducing the risk of injury. It’s a valuable investment in your fitness and well-being.

Feasting Before Fitness

Eating too much or consuming the wrong types of food too close to exercise can lead to digestive discomfort, cramps, and a decrease in performance.

The general guideline of eating a meal 2 to 3 hours before your workout allows your body enough time to digest the food and convert it into usable energy. It’s essential to choose easily digestible foods that are part of your regular diet. Complex meals, especially those high in fats and fibers, can slow down digestion and cause discomfort during exercise.

If you find yourself hungry shortly before your workout, consider a light and easily digestible snack like a banana, a piece of toast with peanut butter, or a small yogurt. These options provide a quick source of energy without overloading your stomach.


Proper hydration is crucial for optimal performance and overall well-being during exercise. Overhydrating just before a workout can indeed lead to discomfort and sloshing in the stomach and may even disrupt your training session.

The guidelines you’ve provided are generally sound. Staying consistently hydrated throughout the day is essential, as dehydration can negatively affect both your exercise performance and recovery. Remember that individual hydration needs can vary, so it’s important to pay attention to your body’s signals and adjust your fluid intake accordingly.

In addition to water, consider the use of sports drinks or electrolyte-rich beverages for more extended and intense workouts, especially in hot and humid conditions. These drinks can help replenish lost electrolytes and maintain a proper fluid balance.

Bad Sleep

Sleep is a critical component of overall health and fitness, and it plays a significant role in your ability to perform well during workouts. Insufficient or poor-quality sleep can indeed lead to a range of negative effects, including increased heart rate, reduced focus and coordination, energy depletion, and poor appetite regulation.

Prioritizing sleep as part of your pre-workout routine is essential for optimal physical and mental performance. As you mentioned, aiming for seven to nine hours of sleep per night is a general guideline for most adults. However, individual sleep needs can vary, so it’s important to listen to your body and adjust your sleep schedule accordingly.

In addition to nighttime sleep, power naps can be a valuable tool for enhancing alertness and energy levels, especially if you have a tough workout planned later in the day.

Consistent, quality sleep is not only essential for exercise but also for overall health, recovery, and well-being. It’s an often-overlooked aspect of fitness that can significantly impact your progress and results.

Not Having A Plan

Having a well-structured workout plan is crucial for achieving your fitness goals efficiently and effectively.

Without a plan, you may find yourself aimlessly wandering from one exercise to another, which can lead to suboptimal results and wasted time. Here are some key benefits of having a workout plan:

  • Goal Orientation: A workout plan helps you align your exercises with your specific fitness goals, whether it’s building muscle, losing weight, improving endurance, or enhancing overall fitness.
  • Efficiency: A structured plan allows you to maximize your time at the gym. You can focus on the exercises that are most relevant to your goals, reducing the risk of overtraining or undertraining certain muscle groups.
  • Progress Tracking: With a plan, you can monitor your progress over time, making it easier to adjust your workouts as needed to keep challenging yourself and avoiding plateaus.
  • Motivation: Having a clear plan can provide motivation and a sense of purpose during your workouts. Knowing what you’re working toward can help keep you committed and on track.
  • Safety: A well-designed plan includes warm-up and cool-down exercises, which are essential for injury prevention. It also ensures balanced training, reducing the risk of overuse injuries.

Taking Anti-inflammatory Drugs

NSAIDs are commonly used to alleviate pain and inflammation, but their effects on the body’s natural healing and adaptation processes during exercise can be counterproductive. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Inflammation’s Role: Inflammation is a natural part of the body’s healing and adaptation processes. When you exercise, especially with intensity or new activities, you create micro-damage to muscles and tissues. Inflammation helps repair this damage and leads to adaptation and increased strength and endurance over time.
  • NSAIDs and Inhibition: NSAIDs work by reducing inflammation. While this can be helpful for pain relief in certain situations, taking them before exercise may inhibit the body’s ability to respond to the stress of exercise. This could potentially limit the training adaptations and benefits that come from exercise.
  • Use of Alternatives: Foam rolling and other self-myofascial release techniques can help alleviate muscle tension and discomfort. Rest and recovery can also be effective in allowing the body to heal and adapt.
  • Consult a Healthcare Provider: If you consistently experience pain or discomfort before or after exercise, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare provider or sports medicine specialist. They can provide personalized recommendations and address underlying issues.

6 Pre-Workout Mistakes That Are Costing You Gains – The Conclusion

If you have any more questions or need further guidance on fitness, nutrition, or any other topic, feel free to ask. Keep up the good work, and keep training strong!

In the meantime, thank you for stopping by.

Keep training strong

David D.

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