Top Fitness Mistakes To Avoid in 2013
Not having a plan
It’s like the old saying: fail to plan, plan to fail. All too often people go to the gym or workout at home on a regular basis with no real progressive plan. They may have a general idea of what they are doing but nothing concrete. They change and hit the gym floor and then have to make a decision on where to start which usually ends up with jumping on a treadmill or maybe doing some bicep curl cause they have no real clue what they need to do.
Solution: Use a well-designed progressive fitness plan. Having a plan that is specific to a persons needs, goals and level is key to success and results. People just do not take the time to figure out what a good plan is for them. It may take a little time and maybe even cost them a few $$ more but it is absolutely essential.
Sticking to one “routine”
Carrying on from the mistake #1, even if some people do find a “plan” they like they often end up doing it over and over. It becomes their go-to routine. I like to say if you find that you have a “workout routine” then it has become routine. And if it has become routine, then it is no longer working. We need progression in our workouts, so they should be getting harder as we are get fitter and stronger.
Solution: Use a progressive fitness plan that is ever-changing as you should be when you workout. If you have done the same workout more than twice in a row then it’s time to change to something different. If you use the same DVD workout or go to the same group class week in week out then it is time to change. Try something new, incorporate a different style of training, instead of working out inside in the gym or your basement, get outside. Instead of always doing cardio based workouts or only lifting weights try mixing them together for more of a HIIT style program.
Performing single joint over multi-joint movements
Small, single joint exercise, which have been made popular by bodybuilder in their posing routines, are usually what most people think of when you think weight training. It is somewhat unfortunate that the unofficial universal sign for weight training is usually the biceps curl. People will often neglect or underuse the bigger, more effective multi-joint movements such as squats, deadlifts, cleans, push ups, pull ups for the smaller exercises such as biceps curls, triceps pushdowns, leg extensions, leg curls, crunches.
Solution: I generally recommend having about 80% of the exercises in a workout be multi-joint, compound, functional movements. Put these larger exercises at the beginning of your workouts and the smaller exercises towards the end. Always try to incorporate at least one large movement for legs, chest, back, shoulders, torso or core before doing any smaller exercises.
Only doing what you like, not necessarily what you need
Most people when they exercise will choose something that they like over what they need, every time. This again comes back to not having a plan. When you follow a plan you are much more likely to stick to what you are told. Performing random exercises because you like them or because you want to focus on a certain body part usually results in poor results, imbalances and possible injuries. A personal trainers main job is to create a plan or a fitness program based upon what he or she thinks you need to do not what you want to do. You should always try to use this philosophy in your training.
Solution: Figure out what your goals are and use a progressive overall plan that focuses on these goals and stick to it. Fitness plans can always be modified and updated to include new and varied things.
Working out for too long
I often hear people bragging how long they spend working out. They talk of doing 2 & 3 hour workouts without thinking or realizing that they are probably doing more harm than good. There is an optimal workout length and a certain point where more can be counterproductive. It comes down to quality or quantity. Most often when people are spending so long in the gym or working out at home they are wasting a lot of that time just hanging out instead of working out. Taking too long in between sets or exercises or socializing with other people in the gym, or doing chores at home in between exercises are a few ways people waste time.
Solution: Keep your workouts to less than 1 hour at a time. In general a full body strength training workout with 8-10 exercises should take between 45-60mins, no more. For cardio based workouts even if you are doing plain old steady state, a 45-60mins workout is long enough. It is also ok to perform multiple short workouts in a day rather than one long one.
Warming up then Static Stretching before working out
We know that warming up and stretching are valuable parts to a workout but only when done in the right order. I constantly see people performing a perfectly good 10-15min warm up only to go ahead and ruin it spending the next 5-10mins static stretching which only serves to cool them down again. There has been a lot of research that has come out recently talking about the pro’s and con’s of stretching particularly static stretching and an overwhelming amount is leaning toward the idea that static stretching before working out is unnecessary and don’t provide any benefits.
Solution: Save your static stretching till the end. It will provide you with much better results and is a great way to cool down, relax and chill out after a good hard workout. If you want to “stretch” before a work do it before you warm up or better yet do dynamic stretching instead of static.
Not adequately resting between sets
People generally know that they need rest between workouts to allow for recovery but they don’t know that resting adequately between sets is often just as important. For too often people skimp on or skip resting between sets altogether, as they feel it not necessary or a waste of time. This can greatly affect your workout results. If you don’t need to rest between sets then changes are your not working hard enough. It usually comes down to the quality over quantity rule. Yes you can do more reps or go for longer but if your doing it half-assed then are you getting the maximum benefit?
Solution: You should be resting a minimum of 30 seconds between sets. A general rule of thumb for rest is the heavier the weight you use, the less reps you will perform but the more rest you will need. Resting is not wasted time, it is essential for recovery and ultimately results.
Not using the correct weight and/or using the same weight for all exercises
This is one of my personal favorites and can generally be split into what females do compared to males. Women will usually use to light a weight while men will try to use too heavy a weight. Both can have negative impact on results. Too light a weight and your not going to stimulate the systems adequately, too much and you run the risk of injury.
Solution: Choosing the right weight to use can be a bit of trial and error in the beginning but once you start to figure it out you should be able to guesstimate pretty closely. You should start off on the lighter side, if you are looking to do say 10 reps, the last 2 or so should be a struggle but not impossible. If it’s too easy then increase, if its too hard then decrease. A general rule is to increase upper body exercises by 2.5-5lbs and lower body by 5-10lbs increments.