From a bad case of chafing to wiping off sweat too much (seriously!), these five unexpected factors could be preventing you from a good workout
You might not realize it, but some of the habits you perform before and during your workouts might be negatively impacting your exercise experience. Find out what unexpected factors might be hindering your performance in everything from hot yoga to strength training, along with simple tips you can put into practice to enhance your sweat sessions. (Maximum performance doesn’t just depend on what you do right before or while you’re working out. Don’t forget these 3 Things You Need to Do Immediately Post-Workout either.)
In a room that feels more like a sauna than a studio, it’s no surprise that there’s a whole lotta sweating going on during hot yoga and Bikram yoga classes. But before you consider giving in to the temptation of wiping away the buckets of sweat streaming down your arms and legs, consider the effect that it could have on the rest of your practice—believe it or not, it's not just sweating that cools you down, but rather the evaporation of that sweat (which in turns keeps you from overheating).
Since hot and Bikram yoga classes are both hot and humid, with temperatures set at over 100 degrees and humidity levels hovering around 30-40 percent, the evaporation process can become impaired even though the rating of sweating increases. Couple that with constantly wiping sweat away from the skin with a towel and the result is even less evaporative cooling, resulting in the retention of body heat, increased sweating and, subsequently, a greater loss of body water and an increased risk of dehydration, which can wreak havoc on physical practice and pose the potential for heat-related illness.
If you’re attempting to work off the few too many drinks you had the night before, the time you spend on the elliptical or StairMaster is likely to suffer given the fact that the hangover effects of alcohol can last up to one full day. Studies have shown that when alcohol is consumed within 24 hours of physical activity, aerobic performance decreases by about 11.4 percent. So before you down those few extra glasses of wine at dinner, consider the consequences it’ll have on your cardio session the next day. (Minimize the effects of a future hangover by practicing smart ordering at while you’re the bar. Check out 7 Healthy Boozing Tips From Bartenders.)
We’re all guilty of talking negatively about ourselves from time to time—especially as it relates to our fitness levels and physiques—but when it comes to your mindset going into your workout, just believing that your performance will be sub-par can actually lead to a less than optimal exercise experience. A 2012 study found that athletes who felt they were destined to perform poorly did in fact perform worse than those who felt more confident in their abilities, regardless of whether they had pressure from onlookers or not. Just simply telling yourself that you’re not strong enough before heading into your favorite group fitness class or tackling your next CrossFit WOD can turn your strength-training doubts into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What do you get when you combine multiple miles and repetitive movement with excessive sweating and clothing that doesn’t fit quite right? The answer is chafing, an uncomfortable stinging and burning sensation of the skin that’ll stop even the most seasoned runner in her tracks, putting a serious damper on your training schedule and running experience.
To enhance your performance and to ensure you stay comfortable and pain-free during a run, opt to wear apparel specifically designed to wick away moisture, helping to keep skin nice and dry. In more sensitive areas (think armpits, groin, etc.), be sure to wear properly fitting clothing that isn’t too loose or too tight, both of which can cause increased friction and rub skin raw, leading to a less than ideal workout. (If you’re a runner, you might be practicing more than just one bad habit. Check out 15 Annoying and Rude Running Habits to Break.)
If you love to shake your groove thang, you might love conveniently breaking a sweat at-home with an instructor-led workout streamed right through your computer or TV. However, what you might not realize is that the living room carpet you’re busting a move on may be putting a damper on your dance-based workout. Although carpeting reduces the stress placed on bones and joints during exercise compared to harder surfaces like concrete, the friction that carpet provides can actually catch the edge of shoes during quick, dynamic movements such as pivoting, which can up the risk for knee injuries and ankle sprains.
A word to the wise—if you love to dance and have hardwood flooring in your home, opt to shake your tailfeather there instead to reduce your risk of injury, and save the carpeted surfaces in your home for modalities like yoga and Pilates. (Love a good dance-based workout? Try one of these 5 Dance Classes That Double as Cardio Workouts.)