Gym sins

Good Health magazine
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Image: Think Stock
Do you skip stretching? Hit the bike hungry? Trudie McConnochie exposes fitness faux pas that foil your best body...

Exercising when hungry

The desire to burn fat is why some gym-goers like to work out on an empty stomach. If there are no available carbohydrates, won't the body go straight to its fat stores for fuel? Yet it doesn’t work like that, says Callinan.

"If you’re training on an empty stomach your body will be sluggish and your metabolism won’t be working efficiently," he says. "That means you won't burn fat efficiently."

However eating directly before a workout will give you stitch, because your body is working hard to digest while you’re exercising.

"For a one-hour gym session, you want to eat something with a low GI (Glycemic Index) rating 60 to 90 minutes beforehand, which will release sugar slowly into the blood system," Callinan advises. Visit to check the GI rating of your pre-gym snack.

Avoiding stretches

It’s easy to see stretching as an annoying chore, and skip it completely. Not only is that counter-productive, it could leave you in worlds of pain the following day.

"Stretching is actually more important than the exercise itself," Callinan explains. "It reduces your chances of DOMS - delayed onset muscle soreness - and helps your flexibility for next time. If you continuously don't stretch after exercise you're hampering your own performance and making yourself more susceptible to injury," he says.

He recommends 10 to 15 minutes of stretches after a one-hour workout - holding each stretch, breathing in, then exhaling as you push a bit further for a "a real pull, but not causing pain."

Good Health magazine For more gym sins, and tips to be a gym saint, pick up the February issue of Good Health magazine. Get a great subscription deal on Good Health magazine at

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