Are you guilty of these five exercise goofs?
From correct form and gym etiquette to counting calories and fitness apps, the exercise world can be a confusing place. When you're unsure of the right way to do things, it's easy to make mistakes. Unfortunately, mistakes can lead to injury, burn out, and a lack of results, all of which lead many well-intentioned exercisers to quit prematurely.
Before giving up on exercise or becoming another injury statistic, take a close look at your exercise routine and ask your trainer: could one or more of the following mistakes be the reason exercise isn't working for you?
Quantity Rather Than Quality
Every morning, you show up at the gym for your workout. You go through yourroutine of weight machines, watch the morning news show on television while mindlessly jogging on the treadmill, or read a book while pedaling on the stationary bike. You feel good because you broke a little sweat and got your heart rate up for a few minutes. Then you leave the gym, cross your workout off your to-do list, and move on.
If this sounds familiar, it's no surprise you're not seeing results. You've got to get serious about exercise, put more effort in making every movement count, and push yourself to new limits each day. By doing these things you'll find you're able to accomplish a lot more in less time.
If you live long enough, you'll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you'll be a better person. It's how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit. - Bill Clinton
Cardio Is All You Do
How much of your exercise routine is spent doing cardio? Jogging around the neighborhood, running on the elliptical, and playing tennis with friends are all great workouts, but cardio exercise is just a piece of the puzzle. A balanced exercise routine includes cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises.
Cardio is especially good for your heart, strength training builds muscle—which in turn burns more calories and speeds metabolism, and flexibility exercises help improve your range of motion and balance. Don't get stuck in a cardio rut or you'll miss out on these other essential parts of fitness.
Using Incorrect Form
You won't see the results you desire and you'll set yourself up for injury and soreness when you perform exercises or lift weights using incorrect form. Your personal trainer is your best resource for learning proper form, so don’t think you’ve got to figure out form all on your own.
Rushing repetitions, holding your breath, overextending your range of motion, and not focusing on precise movements are several ways weight lifters compromise their results.
Skipping the Warm Up and Cool Down
Many people think the warm-up and cool-down periods are for wimps or beginners. This just isn't true. Your muscles (including your heart) need to be prepped for increased exertion. A three- to five-minute warm up that includes range of motion exercises gets oxygen and blood pumping to your muscles and slowly raises your body temperature. Then a cool down does the opposite in order to flush lactic acid out of your muscles. Without an adequate warm-up and cool-down, especially before and after high-intensity exercise, you're at risk for injury and excessive soreness.
Forgetting to Fuel Up
Without proper energy stores to fuel your workout, your body may break down muscle rather than fat. Keep this from happening by eating a simple meal that includes carbs, protein, and fiber before exercise; hydrate with water before, during, and after; and replenish your muscles after a workout with something like chocolate milk or yogurt (a source of carbs and protein).