The Top Fitness Mistakes that Most People Make and How to Avoid Them
If you're reading this article, there's a good chance that you want to improve your fitness but are not sure how.
Or maybe you're just getting started and want to avoid common mistakes so that you can get the most out of your workouts.
Either way, I'm going to share with you my top 10 fitness mistakes that most people make and how to avoid them.
It should come as no surprise that regular, consistent exercise is one of the most important things you can do for both your physical and mental health.
It's frustrating to hear, but exercise enthusiasts likely know that simply going to the gym is not enough.
If you want all the benefits of working out, such as stronger muscles and bones, improved cardiovascular health, reduced stress, boosted memory and a healthier sleep pattern - among other things - there are certain ways that you could and should be exercising instead.
Below are some of the most common fitness mistakes we make that are likely stalling your progress and what you can do about them:
Passing on the warm-up
So, hands up who regularly skips their warm-up when they hit the gym?
No shame; we've all done it but here is why this is a HUGE mistake; our muscles and connective tissues respond to training in much the same way a rubber band would - if cold (or old/brittle), it is likely to snap or tear, however, if heated up, it becomes far more pliable and flexible, meaning we get more from our workout.
This is especially important as we get older; as the body naturally loses muscle mass and joint flexibility, a warm-up is essential to protect against injury.
This does NOT mean doing 20 minutes of cardio before hitting your actual workout - a few minutes will do nicely - just something to get your body moving slowly and deliberately before launching into the real deal!
What's the plan?
Like most things, if you come at something without having a clear strategy, you usually end up wasting both energy and time, which leads to frustration and lack of growth (physically and mentally).
By coming up with a plan for the day/week/month, you are giving yourself a head start before having even set foot in a gym.
If you don't have a plan but more of a vague idea, chances are that the workout you were hoping for fails to materialise that day, maybe even that week...
Treat your sessions in the same way you would a work meeting; you arrive on time and PREPARED (saves you from feeling a fool at the end of your workout).
Leave your phone at home (or at least, in your locker)!
Electronic devices continue to be a huge distraction when it comes to your workouts... It's almost like bringing a small child to the gym with you - you are constantly checking in, whether it's for personal or professional reasons, it does interfere with your focus, your effectiveness and your mood.
If possible, try to leave the phone anywhere other than the pocket of your workout gear.
We know that's not an option for everyone and, if that's the case, limit the amount of times you check your device.
If nothing else, it will likely shave a couple of minutes off your gym visit at any rate - you can then check to your heart's content in the car park!
Ignoring recovery time
Despite what you may have been told, overtraining does not make you get to your goal any faster - all it gets you is SORE..!
Hard as this is to accept, recovery time between workouts is crucial - for growth, for injury and for burnout.
Your rest days are the times your muscle fibres repair and grow stronger. If you don't take them - your progress slows.
It might not be immediately obvious but eventually you will notice the difference.
Another great option is to train different muscle groups on different days, instead of all the muscles, all the time! (Also, this is not to replace rest days completely, rather than giving these groups a "longer" rest in between).
Getting but not sticking with the programme
It’s common for people to jump from one workout program to the next, trying to find a workout that they love but it really is better if you create a proper fitness routine and stick with it.
The second key rule to remember is that you must choose a technique that suits your current fitness level.
Align the fitness techniques with how your body feels and with your goals so you can get as much as possible out of each workout session.
Everything won't necessarily work for every body as it depends entirely on current ability/mobility and what your goals are which is why it is still important to utilise a variety of workouts, even if that means modifying some of the exercises to suit your needs.
Get outside your comfort zone
Humans like waking up to a routine and feel most comfortable when in a set pattern.
However, it's important that you challenge yourself consistently within your routine so that you can work on optimizing your performance.
Our bodies adapt much more quickly than we tend to give them credit for and, as a consequence, we need to be mindful of that and change things up from time to time.
Not only because we get used to doing the same exercises/workout on auto-pilot, leading our bodies to become complacent but also because repetitive use can lead to unnecessary strain and injury...
Improper nutrition and hydration
Eating right doesn't just mean avoiding junk food; it also includes making healthy choices about what we put into our bodies every single day.
Avoiding processed foods helps keep blood sugar levels steady so energy isn't low and hunger isn't high. It also means eating real, nutritious foods that will help you build muscle mass and give your body the fuel it needs to get through a workout.
There's no such thing as "spot reducing": We often hear people say they want to lose weight from their stomach or butt area but we should really be focusing on what happens in our kitchens!
If you're trying to reduce fat around one part of the body, it'll just come back somewhere else because there is no way for the human body to selectively remove tissue from a specific spot.
The best solution is maintaining healthy habits all day every day so that your entire system can work better together which will lead to less overall fat storage over time.
Staying hydrated isn't just about how many glasses of water we drink, but rather making sure that our bodies are properly nourished with electrolytes and other minerals needed during physical activity.
Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages if they make you anxious, jittery or cause heart palpitations! Try adding more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet instead because these contain micronutrients that are great for hydration.
Skimping on the zzz's
Not enough sleep: If you're not getting the recommended amount of seven hours per night then it will show in how sore you are after working out the next day as well as how much energy we have throughout the day.
Sleep deprivation also slows down our metabolism which makes weight loss difficult + it can have a detrimental effect on the efficacy of your immune system and overall health and wellbeing.
Do make sure to check for any underlying medical conditions before you go blaming a lack of sleep!
Skipping the dreaded foam roller
Foam rolling, or self-myofascial release, is the process of a person applying pressure over their own muscle tissue to break up fascia and improve range of motion. Foam rolling can also accelerate the healing process by increasing oxygen flow to muscles and alleviating soreness.
Ideally, foam rolling should be done both before and after a workout to avoid injury.
The areas of the body that need additional support are the back, hamstrings, glutes, IT band, lats, quads and adductors among others
To find the area of tension in your body, just place a foam roller underneath and roll it out slowly.
Once you find what feels like a “sweet spot” (a point that hurts) hold on for three seconds while taking deep breaths to release the tension.
All the gear, no idea
Working out in inappropriate clothes can have a negative impact on your workout ability, so make sure you dress the part - you need to be able to move and complete the workout without making things harder for yourself by having leggings/shorts falling down, tops riding up, loose-fitting clothing on any of the machines... You get the point!
Working out is a great way to stay healthy and feel good. You should be careful not to make the same mistakes that many people do when they work out, so you can get the most out of your workouts.
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