We’ve all made a workout mistake at some point in our lives, but how many of our top ten training blunders are you doing right now? Read on to find out what your worst workout mistake is (hopefully it’s not more than one!).
1. Not taking the time to warm up
You know you should be doing a warm up before you start training, but do you ever do it? There’s actually good reason for it! Doing some kind of light exercise before you get into the proper workout causes a lubricating fluid to start flowing around your joints; if you don’t warmup beforehand, it’s like starting a car with no engine oil. Warm up properly to help prevent joint injuries and to get the blood and oxygen flowing around your body.
2. Never stretching
Stretching doesn’t just help you be more flexible, it helps prevent injuries by making your muscles more supple and can also help promote faster recovery post-workout. Your body should always be warm when stretching to ensure the muscles are ready to be lengthened, so do them straight after your workout or, if you don’t have enough time and have to head home, do them just after you’ve come out of the shower. If you do stretches at the beginning of your workout as part of your warmup, make sure you’ve done a bit of light cardio first.
3. Not drinking enough water
When you sweat, you lose water from your body. It’s important to replenish this to keep you from becoming dehydrated. Whenever you’re training, take along a decent sized water bottle and sip throughout your workout. If you prefer cold water, always keep a bottle in the fridge so you can grab it on your way out the door.
4. Overdoing things
Going full tilt and busting your butt at the gym every day of the week when you’ve been used to going once every two months may feel rewarding at first, but it’s not sustainable and you will soon start to feel burnt out which won’t help any of your goals get completed. Instead, try to plan for a workout regime that will be maintainable in the long term and always plan for at least one rest day to allow your body to recover properly.
5. Not working up a sweat
Are you going to the gym to get in a workout or just to be able to say you’ve used your membership? If you actually have health and fitness-related goals, you should be working up some kind of a sweat regardless of whether it’s cardio training, resistance exercise or even stretching. Train properly otherwise you won’t see results.
6. Not lifting weights
Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain weight or tone up, lifting weights or doing some kind of weight bearing training (such as yoga or pilates) should be a part of your fitness regime. Resistance training helps your muscles and bones become stronger, helps prevent osteoporosis, can help speed up your metabolism and has a positive effect on insulin resistance.
7. Trying to target particular areas to drop fat
Spot training to get rid of fat on certain areas of your body doesn’t work as your body loses fat evenly all over; whatever order your weight gain came on, the reverse will happen when you’re trying to lose it. Think about your body like a bucket of water – you can’t remove water from just one part of the bucket, the whole level of water goes down evenly. For example, one common workout mistake is to do lots of stomach crunches to get a toned tummy. Crunches help tone the muscle lying underneath the belly fat which is why you may feel sore there the next day, but cardio exercise and nutrition is what will get rid of the layer of fat sitting on top (and you won’t see the muscle underneath if they layer of fat is still there!). Spot training does, however help to ‘tighten up’ the muscles in key areas such as your triceps.
8. Undoing your good exercise work with a poor diet
Just exercising so that you can eat whatever you like may help keep the weight off, but your insides will still know if you’re eating loads of junk food and not enough fresh fruit and veges. If you’re trying to lose weight, nutrition accounts for around 80% (!) of weight loss, so if your diet isn’t under control, you will always end up fighting the kilos again next time your fitness regime lapses. If you’re trying to gain weight, eating fatty takeaways and junk food isn’t the way to go – up your lean protein and healthy carbohydrate intake instead.
9. Not challenging yourself
If you don’t give your body reason to change, it won’t do it. One big workout mistake is to get a gym regime going and stick to the same thing for years without changing the exercises or upping the intensity. If you are doing a programme, you should be getting it updated every 4-6 weeks to prevent plateauing!
10. Not keeping track
Monitoring your progress can help motivate you and alert you if you’re stalling. Whether it’s measurements (tape measure, body fat, weight scales), a workout diary or nutrition diary, it’s a good idea to keep track using one or more of these methods. Don’t do measurements every day – instead do them every fifth or sixth week of your training which is better for showing change. Even if weight loss is your main goal, seeing that you’ve gone from doing two pushups in your first week of training to being able to do 20 by week 5 is a great accomplishment and you’ll be able to see yourself getting fitter and stronger. Nutrition diaries help you realise exactly what’s going into your body and can help you figure out if there’s certain elements of your diet you need to work on.
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