Like anything in life, we learn from our mistakes. This is no different when it comes to fitness.
However, if you want to prevent a lot of wasted time in the gym or a serious injury to the back, it is best to cut the roots of any potential problem before they have the chance to grow.
There is only 24 hours in the day, and that window gets smaller and smaller when you add in hours of sleeping, working, school work, or whatever else is penciled in your schedule. Because of this, it is crucial to make the absolute most out of your time exercising and improving your physical and mental health.
Although the effort may be there, too many people go through their fitness regime making crucial mistakes that may actually be doing them more harm than good. Here’s a list of some of these mistakes and ways to prevent them so no more time is wasted in reaching your goals.
1) Training with improper form
This may sound obvious and you probably hear it all the time, but people still do it wrong all too often. While exercising, it is important, and even necessary, to isolate whatever muscle group, or groups, you are focusing on. It may help to think deeply and focus attentively on the way those particular muscles are moving in order to perform the movements you are doing.
One of the biggest reasons people use bad form is because they attempt to do more weight than they can handle using proper form. When you rock your body to complete a movement or start to use other muscles (such as shoulders in a bicep curl) to aid a certain movement, you are not only taking away from your targeted muscle group, but you are putting yourself at a higher risk for injury.
This mistake becomes even more important when you are dealing with heavier weights. Although the chances of injuring yourself doing dumbbells curls with ten pounds may be low, dead lifting 300 pounds with a rounded back can put you out with a back injury for months. If you are not training with proper form, you shouldn’t be training at all.
2) Exercising but not eating right
We have said it before, the key to any fitness routine is diet. One of the most common mistakes seen in fitness is just doing ab workouts and expecting to get a six pack eventually. If you’re one of those who finish your workout with a ten minute ab routine, then leave the gym and continue to eat an unhealthy diet, chances are high that six pack won’t come very fast. Although performing reps of different ab exercises is crucial to having a great stomach, diet is even more important. What good is all that muscle definition if there is too much fat hiding it?
The same goes for all parts of the body. You may never have that look you desire for so badly if you don’t start making changes with what you are putting into your body. Although you may be able to get away with eating unhealthy foods because you are working out and burning a lot off, you will not be reaching your full fitness potential.
3) Avoiding warm-ups
In order to train at your full physical capacity you need to prepare your body for intense physical activity. Without proper warm up, your muscles are not ready to perform high endurance, explosive movements. When you put yourself in a situation where you are training on “cold” muscles, you are increasing the risk of injury tremendously. When you are out with a pulled muscle for weeks, you will be wishing you took that ten minutes to warm up.
Warms up can be completed in a variety of ways. One of the best methods is to do a dynamic warm up, which most professional and olympic athletes do. A dynamic warm up consists of working up a sweat before you even hit the gym floor. Examples of dynamic warm up routines are short sprints backwards and forwards, knee raises, butt-kickers, jump-rope, back slaps, and lunges.
We recommend finding a dynamic workout that is consistent with your fitness goals and sticking with it. Once you find a dynamic warm up that you like, it is important to do it before every workout. You can execute a quality warm up that prepares your body for peak physical performance in ten minutes. Once you begin to work up a sweat is when you know your warming up the right away.
4) Stretching before workouts.
A common misconception about stretching is that it needs to be done before you exercise. We have found that one of the best ways to incorporate stretching into your routine is either during or after your training session. Leave the pre-workout routine to performing a dynamic warm up as explained before.
The best time to stretch is in between sets and immediately after your final exercise. For in between sets stretches, focus on muscles that you are using during that particular exercise. Stretching increases blood flow to the muscle fibers and prevents them from becoming too tight, thus preventing injury. Due to the increased circulation from stretching, you will also be able to handle more weight, be more explosive, and have better endurance during your workout.
For post-workout stretches, stretch each trained muscle for at least 10-20 seconds. Stretching post workout increases the blood flow to the muscles that were exhausted and jumpstarts the recovery process. The increased circulation will help maintain healthy muscles and drive nutrients straight to the muscle for optimal recovery.
5) Only doing machines
Most machines are excellent training aids and are becoming more advanced everyday, but it is crucial to not neglect free weight exercises. Although machines have benefits from being easy to use and less time consuming, free weight exercises recruit more muscle fibers by stabilizing muscles that enable you to perform the movements you choose to make and may be more effective in producing overall muscular strength and power gains.
Free weights are also a more versatile option, as you can perform a wide variety of workouts with a simple set of dumbbells. You can hold the weights with palms facing your body, facing forward, or facing the wall behind you. By doing this, you can do three different exercises that will work your muscles in three different ways.
6) Not drinking enough water
Drinking substantial amounts of water is essential to any fitness routine. Being well hydrated improves mental focus and clarity, aids in weight loss, promotes stronger muscles and healthy joints, and has a long list of other health benefits that would probably not fit on this page.
Those who exercise and sweat a lot need to drink even more water to replenish water lost through sweat to avoid dehydration. Dehydration can negatively impact your fitness by decreasing muscle endurance, lowering energy levels, weakening muscle fibers, and causing a lackluster physical appearance.
Bringing a water bottle to the gym and keeping it full does not require much work or maintenance, so a quality water bottle may be one of the most important investments one can make.
7) Neglecting health, fitness, and nutrition supplements
There are many reasons why people shrug off buying health supplements.
- They don’t want to spend money on them.
- They feel they already eat enough food and don’t need extra supplements.
- They are uninformed on what kinds of supplements to take or why to take them.
Although you do not need to stockpile your cabinets which every type of vitamin and mineral sold at your local health shop, it may be a good idea to invest in some supplements that are consistent with your fitness goals. Not everyone has time to eat a complete, well-balanced diet everyday, so a multivitamin may be a good choice.
Vitamins come in many different strengths and forms, so it is important to research what is right for you. It is also important to research the quality of vitamins, since many have low absorption rates, which causes you to not get the full amount of whatever it is you are taking.