These Workout and Diet Mistakes May Not Be as Bad As You Think

These Workout and Diet Mistakes May Not Be as Bad As You Think

Do you have bad workout and diet habits?

Some fitness habits are obviously terrible. (Pigging out on pizza every night? Never exercising? We know the verdict.) But others—such as cutting corners on your cooldown—are much trickier to judge. You may receive mixed messages about whether these suboptimal moves actually obstruct your progress. No worries: We consulted top experts for the complete story on what you can get away with—and what you should rethink, stat (spoiler alert: smoothies!).

No need to fret if you have a get-in-get-out gym session once in a while. Just don't neglect stretching multiple times per week, advises Kevin Gary, a personal trainer and the owner of Body Space Fitness in New York City. Proper dynamic stretching before the workout activates your muscles so you can perform efficiently and reduce your risk of injury, he says. Stretching afterward helps relax your muscles and jump-start the recovery process, he adds.

Only have time for one or the other? Prioritize the warm-up: Try jogging butt-kicks to loosen up your quadriceps and slow walking lunges to activate your glutes and hamstrings. Gary recommends doing 8 to 12 reps of each.

You're likely not staying hydrated, especially if your workouts tend to be super sweaty (cycling, running, high-intensity interval training, even swimming). Drinking water helps you maintain your energy and stamina, says Leslie Bonci, RD, founder of the nutrition consulting company Active Eating Advice. "Fluid can help deliver fuel to your muscles, and the way water travels in and out of the cells of your body has an impact on muscles' contracting and relaxing," she explains. "Water also dictates the flow of electrolytes and helps keep your body temperature from dropping too low or going too high."

Here's how to hydrate: Take in 20 ounces of fluid one hour before strenuous exercise and up to 20 ounces during routines in which you're working up a sweat, recommends Bonci. And take large swigs when you down water. "The bigger the gulp, the faster it gets out of the stomach and to your muscles," she says. "Sipping takes the water longer, so you might feel uncomfortable while it's sitting in your stomach."

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