What Happens When…
15) You lift too soon after eating?
Remember how your mom always told you to wait an hour after eating before going in the pool? Some people believe the same warning applies to resistance training. But what really happens if you lift on a full stomach?
“For most people, nothing,” Stoppani remarks. “Some people have to eat earlier, as their stomachs may be more sensitive; when you work out, blood flow is diverted away from the GI system and to the muscle, and digestion and absorption of nutrients slows. But it’s more of an individual thing.” Regardless of your preworkout eating habits, you need to consume some sort of protein and carbohydrate within an hour after your workout.
16) You work out when you’re still sore?
Another old wives’ tale is to stay out of the gym if your muscles still ache from your last workout. “A recent study found that when muscles were trained when still sore, no added damage occurred to those fibers,” states Stoppani. “One study found that when a workout was repeated just two days later and muscles were still sore, subjects had lower cortisol levels than normal. Since low cortisol means more testosterone is available, it may actually be beneficial from time to time to train the same bodypart two days in a row — but only rarely.”
17) You lift on an empty stomach?
Once again, life gets in the way of lifting, and you miss your preworkout meal. What can you expect from your hungry body during the workout? “As far as fatigue goes, it depends on your reps and total sets,” says Stoppani. “The higher your reps, the more muscle-glycogen you’ll depend on to complete those reps. Without some form of dietary carbohydrate, you may fatigue earlier.”
He continues: “As far as hormonal responses go, lifting without taking in carbs before the workout will lead to higher cortisol levels during and after the workout. Cortisol inhibits testosterone’s anabolic effects and leads to muscle breakdown.
“Not having any protein before the workout is a double whammy as even higher cortisol levels lead to further muscle depletion. Eating protein helps to inhibit some of this breakdown, so having nothing to eat before a workout is bad for muscle gains.” In other words, carry a bar, a drink, something. Just don’t hit the gym with a growling gut.