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Are you guilty of these pre-workout mistakes?

Last updated on: July 15, 2014 17:15 IST

Are you guilty of these pre-workout mistakes?

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Shameem Akthar

There is a lot of enthusiasm for 'working out' and 'building tone', but there is an equal lack of awareness of the mistakes that can sabotage one's efforts, says yogacharya Shameem Akthar.

Different work-outs require different preparations in terms of energy/fuel consumption and warm-ups.

There are so many workouts possible, that one experiments with different types without fully understanding the basics. 

If you are learning online, the instructor could have omitted some key aspects of pre-workout training due to limitations of space or virtual time.

One often picks up tips from friends or acquaintances. Their work outs could be tailored to their individual needs. For instance, someone with low blood pressure may need a pre-workout snack, while for another it may actually create acidity and provoke acid reflux.

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, offers tips for a better workout experience based on her experience as an instructor and practitioner.

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Photographs: Courtesy The Solana Club

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Pre-workout snack

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The biggest mistake is to eat a heavy meal immediately before a workout.

The food you consume needs to pass a long tract before it becomes the blood sugar that is the energy base for your workout.

That would typically take a few hours and will depend a lot on the food type.

The body has the resources to take on just one important chore -- either digestion or workout. It cannot do both.

A heavy pre-workout snack will make you sluggish, dull, and heavy. It often causes cramps (as can happen in swimming pools, with disastrous results).

It may cause acid reflux in many people prone to it. Some people even feel dizzy.

In yoga, and other practices where there are more complicated movements, it can be disastrous to do inversions because the food will come down the gullet.

What to do: Have a light snack about an hour/latest half-hour before work-out. If it is early morning, you do not even need that unless you have blood sugar issues (in which case you need to consult a medical expert/dietician for when and what to consume).

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Image: A heavy pre-workout snack will make you sluggish, dull, and heavy.
Photographs: Bradley J/Creative Commons
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High sugar snack

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Exercisers often make the mistake of consuming a high sugar drink, snack or high sugar fruit just before a workout (some energy bars and drinks are spiked with sugar), believing it will power their workout.

This could be disastrous for those with blood sugar yo-yos and blood pressure issues. In such cases, a high sugar spike will be followed by a dip in blood sugar, making you feel nauseated, dizzy or give you cramps.

Intriguingly, those who do this first thing in the morning as a workout preparation may even get skin break-outs due to the spike in blood acid levels.

A high sugar snack is actually a rather foolhardy, if not a dangerous pre-workout snack.

What to do: Have slow-release food bites. Whole wheat snacks, bread slices or biscuits (without sugar), fruit pieces instead of fruit juices (which are higher in sugar).

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Image: A high sugar snack is actually a rather foolhardy, if not a dangerous pre-workout snack.
Photographs: Dominicp/ Creative Commons
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Too much water

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In certain practices involving stretches or forward bends (pilates, yoga, ariel silk) it would be downright awkward to drink too much water before the workout.

The pressure on the pelvis will be acute and cause urinary discharge when the pressure increases. This could happen even in workouts involving kicks, jumps and running.

The pelvic floor becomes overburdened and in the long term it becomes slack!

Too much water for high-intensive workouts can also be dangerous because it can cause water-intoxication, which happens when too much water upsets the potassium-sodium salt ratio in the tissues and leads to fainting or even stroke.

What to do: A heavy bout of drinking an hour or so before a workout is safe. Just before a workout, sip lightly if you feel the need. Otherwise, sip lightly during the course of the workout (as in kickboxing or running).

In practices like yoga, you must avoid drinking during practice totally.

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Image: Too much water for high-intensive workouts can also be dangerous because it can cause water-intoxication.
Photographs: Richard Culver/Creative Commons
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Moisturiser and creams

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Applying moisturisers and creams heavily before a workout is not advisable.

In certain practices like stretches, yoga, kick boxing, this can be outright dangerous because it will cause you to slip at the elbows (in inversions) or prevent the instructor from making corrections (his/her hand will slip) and assisting you effectively.

You can slip on the practice mats during warm-ups. When you start sweating, the combination of sweat and cream can make it more slippery in certain poses where the pressure on the feet, and palms needs to be steady, making you constantly wipe your hands or actually slip.

An instructor will find it hard to make corrections in balance or inversions if there is cream on the body.

It can be dangerous if you are using machines for work-outs, for all the above reasons.

What to do: Avoid using moisturisers just before a workout. Note also that if the moisturiser is strong, even if you use it the night before, it is likely to remain on the body.

Wipe off with a towel dipped in warm water to remove even the residue. Use cream etc after a workout, not before it.

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Image: Applying moisturisers and creams heavily before a workout is not advisable.
Photographs: Courtesy Aromatherapy works
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Clothing

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The clothes you wear during a workout are important. Wearing slippery materials with machines around or when doing stretches or certain arm balancers can be risky or awkward.

Remember that while some natural materials are very good, they can chafe in a very biting, piercing manner. This happens very often in running (the chafing can be very painful).

It can happen at the legs (if you are wearing loose pants) or at the chest (for women, with certain bra materials). Loose pants can also make you trip.

Despite their seeming comfort, loose clothes can flop around, especially if your workout requires twisting, stretching or throwing your legs about.

Exhibitionism apart, which is quite common in group work, it can make you self-conscious and lose out on your workout instead of making you focus and develop mental tone!

Clothes that allow sweat to dry off are better. Some materials, promoted as eco-friendly, end up holding the smell of sweat for longer, and though you may not be aware of it, your partner in workout will be suffering your presence for sure!

What to do: It may be expensive, but it is better to buy workout clothes from reputed brands that help you look and perform better at whatever you choose to work on.

Stinting on them or making unwise choices can sabotage your practice in less obvious but certain ways.


Photographs: Syberpat/ Creative Commons
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