25 Fitness Mistakes You Should Avoid
We’ve all been there; overindulging during the holidays and then groaning to fit into our favorite pans. Many people put ‘getting fit’ on top of their New Year’s resolution lists. Gym memberships reach an all time high as New Year approaches every year. It’s good for the gyms but what about you? Are you prepared to get the best out of the money you’ve paid the gym? Here are 25 fitness mistakes you should avoid to optimize on your fitness program.
1. AVOIDING WEIGHTS – You need to incorporate a combination of cardio and weights to lose weight. Muscle mass drops by six percent every 10 years after age 40. Do circuit training to maximize your fat burn and do weights to keep your body strong at least thrice a week.
2. DOING ONLY CRUNCHES TO LOSE BELLY FLAB – Spot training any part of the body doesn’t work out. Reduce overall body fat percentage and get your Abs out into the open. You can then firm it up doing crunches, sit-ups, weight training and others.
3. OVERCOMPENSATING AND UNDERESTIMATING CALORIES – It’s easy to overestimate how many calories you burn during your workout. Don’t think you’ve burnt too many calories and that you can afford to take that extra piece of tiramisu. You’ll only be putting all the calories back into your body.
4. HAVING NO SET PLAN – Set specific goals that you can achieve every day. As you achieve each goal, you will find the momentum to achieve your weight loss and fitness goals. Use a journal or chart to track down your progress and make sure you measure them against your set goals.
5. OVERDOING EXERCISE – Don’t overdo exercise thinking you’ll benefit that much more. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is a common occurrence in people who start a new workout routine. Overdoing the routine will only cause you more pain, so slow down and do only as much as you can.
6. WATCHING THE CLOCK – You don’t need to spend a full hour at the gym to achieve your objective. Don’t push yourself even if you’re tired and sore just because you have to complete your set hour. Be wise and use your time doing workouts that will benefit you despite the short duration.
7. OVER-EATING FOLLOWING A WORKOUT – Don’t overeat following a workout. Even though your body does need adequate fuel after a workout, don’t give it too much or else you’ll be losing out on the benefit of your workout altogether.
8. SACRIFICING SLEEP – Don’t sacrifice your sleep to fit exercise into your day’s schedule. Sleep is vital for hormonal balance. Make 7 hours of sleep a priority and see what else can be knocked out of your schedule to make way for a workout routine.
9. SETTING GREAT EXPECTATIONS – Advertisements, trainers and fitness enthusiasts will tell you that you can achieve miracles in weeks. Don’t buy into this. Know your limits and set realistic expectations for yourself that you can achieve.
10. DOING TOO MUCH TOO SOON – Do as much workout as your current fitness level allows. Don’t do the routines that you will be able to do when you achieve your goals. Doing too much too soon can tire and burn you out, causing you to turn away from exercise for ever.
11. TAKING INSUFFICIENT REST – Rest adequately between workouts. Don’t jump off an energetic session on the treadmill to hit the benchpress immediately. Do some stretches, relax for a while and let your body adapt to its heightened rhythm naturally.
12. EATING INSUFFICIENTLY – You might want to lose weight quickly and are probably eating very less and working out at the same time for ‘best results’. This won’t work; your body is a machine that needs sufficient fuel to workout. If you don’t eat enough, your body won’t have the energy to burn stored fat, leaving you tired, dispirited and still unfit.
13. SEEING BARRIERS AND NOT GOALS – Focus on your goals and not the barriers that life always sets up. Family demands, kids, work, and time all come together to create barriers. Maintain your game plan and keep your focus firmly on your goals to win.
14. NOT UPDATING FITNESS REGIME REGULARLY – Don’t do the same workout routine every day, as the body gets accustomed to routines and does not respond the same way. Change your routine every week to keep your body guessing. This way you’ll lose weight steadily and work different muscle groups as well.
15. USING VERY LIGHT WEIGHTS – If you want to increase the size of your muscles, doing more reps while using light weights can be counterproductive. Your muscles contain two groups of fibers, one group that is highly resistant to fatigue and is used in everyday tasks, and the other that kicks in only when the going gets tough. So you can do 100 reps with a water bottle but not achieve results unless you lift weights heavy enough to engage the second muscle fiber group.
16. NOT WIPING DOWN THE EQUIPMENT – You need to wipe down the equipment you use from a hygiene and courtesy perspective. You wouldn’t like to lie down on a sweaty benchpress would you? By using sanitary wipes, you can prevent skin infections and ensure a peaceful workout as well.
17. WORKING OUT ON AN EMPTY STOMACH – Working out on an empty stomach will tire you out faster, since the body won’t find carb stores to burn your body fat. So the body starts burning muscles to compromise for the lack of carbohydrates. Always eat a light, carb-heavy snack a half hour before you workout so that you don’t lose your hard-earned muscle.
18. DOING ONLY HIGH INTENSITY WORKOUTS – The myth that you only burn fat only when you are exercising between 60 and 70 per cent of your maximum rate is not correct. The truth is that we burn fat 24 hours a day. You can burn a greater amount of fat doing a low-intensity exercise as well. Use a mix of high and low intensity workouts to burn the most fat.
19. NOT WARMING UP BEFORE EXERCISE – Skipping a warm up before exercise may save you time, but will increase your risk of injury. Performing warm-ups brings down the accumulation of lactic acid in your muscles, and you can exercise for longer durations after warming up adequately. Mobilize your joints, increase your heart rate up and loosen you muscles with a 10-minute warm up before workout.
20. NOT DOING STRETCHES BEFORE EXERCISE – Your body’s natural flexibility reduces after age 25. Muscles shorten as you grow older. It’s good to stretch and lengthen your muscles before you workout, as this will help put joints through their full range of motion. This is important to reduce muscle and joint stiffness and to keep cartilage nourished and healthy. Also, the correct alignment is maintained between the muscles and the skeleton by stretching muscles.
21. NOT MONITORING FITNESS PROGRESS – A training log will help you monitor your workout sessions, how you felt after a new exercise routine, weight progress and BMI indicators. Keeping a tab helps you know what’s working, what’s not and helps you optimize on your workout regimes.
22. IGNORING PAIN DURING WORKOUTS – If you injure your knee, joints, ankles or shoulders during your workouts, stop your exercise routines until the pain goes away. Always check with a doctor when you sprain or strain something. If you keep working despite an injury, you might cause yourself greater, long term harm.
23. DOING SIT-UPS TO IMPROVE CORE STABILITY – Crunches and sit-ups do nothing more than work the superficial layer of the abdominals. They won’t do anything to improve your core strength and stability. For that, you need to do Pilates to hone the deep abdominal muscles. Ask your trainer to demonstrate core exercises such as the side bridge, the plank and a seated balance on a fit ball.
24. TRAINING THE SAME MUSCLE GROUPS CONSECUTIVELY – Your muscles require rest to repair themselves and grow stronger. Not getting enough rest in between workouts can lead to risk of physical breakdown and serious injury. Don’t work out the same muscles consecutively; alternate workouts and use different sets of muscles.
25. FAILURE TO CROSS-TRAIN – Incorporate all types of training into your workout regimen to achieve fitness. Mix strength training and cardio, and try different cardio workouts such as running, swimming, cycling and so on. Cross training can garner you greater benefits than doing one form of exercise.