There are a lot of unhealthy and counterproductive workout habits and behaviors in which many unknowingly partake of on a daily basis; things that people have been doing wrong for years but simply never took the time to examine. These are mistakes that anyone can make, especially when starting out in the gym.
I like to call them "Gym-stakes" and I am here to warn you of what they are before you accidentally develop bad workout habits.
Top 10 Workout Mistakes
1. Doing Cardio "The Wrong Way":
There's a delicate balance when it comes to cardio- If you don't do enough you are cheating yourself, but if you do too much you are needlessly exhausting yourself.
The most important thing to remember is you want to reach your cardio potential by not doing less than 25 minutes or more than 45 minutes. This "magic zone" between 25 to 45 minutes is the fat burning zone where you can't go wrong.
If you do more than this, you will hit a training plateau where your workouts become stagnant and your body "hits a wall" and you slow/stop your progress.
Make sure to do cardio at 65-75% of their target heart rate and focus on keeping your heart rates within that range, so that you don't accidentally burn off your hard earned muscle mass.
2. Focusing On "Running" To Lose Weight:
In order to gain and maintain that strong sleek and sexy muscle tone, you need to focus more on weight training to build it up. Don't do excessive cardio which will "eat away" at your muscle mass. Don't run or try to embrace another form of low impact cardio.
Believe me, your muscle mass and your joints will thank me! Professionals lean towards the "no running" principle because it's known to "eat away" at the muscle you work so hard to gain.
Don't work against yourself and defeat your progress by running. It takes a lot of energy with no real gains, except for cardiovascular. You can receive cardiovascular benefits from other low impact versions such as using the Elliptical, Nordic Track, Air Stepper, and the Stair Master.
3. Straining & Overtraining:
If you over train, your appetite will increase and you will start eating like a 250 pound football player.
Rather, train enough to blast fat and not to hit a plateau. Again if you over train, your body will "lock up" and not allow you to burn the fat off that you need too, because it will reach a state of "shock", thus holding onto the fat.
4. Not Challenging Yourself Enough:
When weight training; make sure to choose a weight that is challenging enough that you have to really focus to finish the last 8-12 reps! Don't cheat yourself! Make sure you follow through and complete your entire weight training session for maximum results.
Also remember the old saying "no pain, no gain" and that working out can cause soreness. Bring yourself to the next level by learning how to increase your tolerance for pain. Write down your workouts and monitor your progress as the weeks go by.
You may also want to set some personal goals for yourself, whether it is to increase your cardio or weight training threshold - only you know your limits and how much you can take. Challenge yourself; you just might be surprised at how your body responds!
5. Not Getting Enough Sleep:
Sleepdeprivation will only slow you down from attaining your fitness goals! Generally speaking, one or two nights of poor or little sleep won't have much impact on performance, but if you make a habit of it, it can result in subtle changes in hormone levels, particularly those related to stress, muscle recovery and mood.
Some research indicates that sleep deprivation can lead to increased levels of stress! Who needs more of that in their life! Pay attention to how you feel and make sure to get your beauty sleep!
6. Relying On A Scale To Track Your Progress:
Did you know that muscle weights more than fat? It is not fair to base your weight loss progress on the numbers that appear on the scale in the locker room or any scale for that matter.
Women also fluctuate up to 10 pounds of water weight, especially when they are on their menstrual cycle. Sometimes seeing the same number on the scale week after week can discourage you, so it's best to just not look at it to begin with. Instead, rely on body fat measurements done with a caliper and also by how your clothes are fitting you.
7. Hiring An Out Of Shape Trainer:
Even if they were Mr. Olympia at one point in their lives, do not hire a trainer that is out of shape. Trainers are supposed to represent the epitome of health and wellness.
Don't get me wrong, they don't need to be in tip top perfect competition condition 365 days a year, but if they cannot keep themselves in presentable fit condition how can you expect them to help you transform your physique?
Be selective! Seek out that one personal trainer who is more than a trainer but more like a coach that will hold you accountable for your actions not only in the gym but outside of the gym - where the real work counts. Remember that the time that you spend in the gym is only 20% of the work!
8. Relying On A Gym Partner To Workout:
How many times have you tried working out with a gym partner only to be caught up in gossip or mindless chit chat while you stand around as they do their sets? Or even worse, a gym partner who cancels on you last minute!
Do not rely on anyone but yourself to workout. Workout partners can sometimes be very unreliable and not as dedicated as you when other things arise. Motivate yourself! Treat your workouts as an important business meeting that you cannot be late to, call in sick to or miss with the most important person in the world: YOU!
9. Not Planning Ahead:
Here's the scenario - it's been a long day at the office and you can barely make it to your car. What are the chances of you going home to change and then hitting the gym? Slim to none!
To avoid this from happening, always have a gym bag packed in the back of your car/trunk for the impromptu workout at your local park/gym. Also you should walk into your workout knowing what body part(s) you are training so you can get yourself mentally prepared.
If you can't make it to the gym, designate a certain area in your home as your personal exercise area where you keep some workout tools/equipment. This needs to be a special place allotted for your workouts - I suggest having it near a television, stereo or a window where the natural sunlight can shine through to motivate you!
10. Not Taking Time To "Rest And Recover":
It is important to balance your exercise with rest and recovery. It is this alteration of adaptation and recovery that will take you to a higher level of fitness. Remember, the greater the training intensity and effort you put into your workouts, the greater the need for planned recovery.
There are limits to how much stress the body can tolerate before it breaks down and risks injury.
Doing too much work too quickly will result in injury or muscle damage, but doing too little, too slowly will not result in any improvement. There are 2 types of recovery that you should be aware of:
Short-term recovery is active recovery that occurs in the hours immediately after exercise. Active recovery refers to engaging in low-intensity exercise after workouts during both the cool-down phase immediately after a hard workout as well as during the days following the workout.
Another major focus of recovery, immediately following exercise, has to do with replenishing energy stores and fluids lost during exercise. It is important to have a post-exercise meal to aid in your recovery.
This is the time when your soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments) repairs and the chemicals that build up as a result of cell activity during exercise are removed from your system. It is recommended to drink a protein shake after a vigorous workout.
Long-term recovery refers to recovery that is built in to a seasonal training program. This is usually reserved for athletes and coaches who have well-designed training schedules which include recovery days and or weeks that are built into an annual training schedule.
This is also the reason athletes and coaches change their training program throughout the year (modifications can include adding cross training and also changes in intensity, time, distance and all the other training variables).