If you don’t approach your workouts in the right way, you not only increase your chances of injury but also decrease your likelihood of losing weight or toning your body. Unfortunately, there are certain key workout mistakes that are strikingly common, and you may be making some of these without even realizing it. Here are ten major errors you need to avoid.
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An understandable vice of the novice exerciser, overtraining is typically caused by eagerness to slim down or boost muscle mass. However, if you push yourself too hard too quickly then you’ll be left feeling defeated and exhausted. Motivation often then wanes, and your workout routine may be abandoned as quickly as it was adopted. Aim to work out only three times a week at first, and build that up as strength increases.
2. Rounding The Back
When you’re deadlifting (i.e. lifting a weight up and down from the ground), you need to keep your abdominal muscles engaged to protect your spine. It’s common to accidentally round the back, increasing the chances of a painful slipped disc (that could stop you from going back to the gym for 3-8 weeks).
3. Poor Hydration
If you don’t drink enough water during exercise, you place disproportionate stress on your cardiovascular system and your body will feel weaker after a shorter periods of time. In addition, inadequate hydration leaves your muscles unable to contract properly, undermining stamina. You should aim to drink 2-3 liters of water every day, and never start your workout without a bottle of water on hand.
4. Sticking To One Routine
It’s tempting to stick to the same workout during every gym session if you’ve found equipment that you like, but your body is a clever machine that builds tolerance to repeated forms of exercise. Consequently, you need to change up your routine on a regular basis if you want to keep burning a high amount of calories. Interval training is one effective solution—simply alternate high and low intensities on your machines.
5. Unrealistic Goals
It’s great to aim high and commit to maximizing your physical health, but it’s important to set goals that you can actually meet. For example, if you vow to lose 10kg after two weeks or be able to run for an hour after two jogging sessions, you’ll feel disappointed and low when you inevitably fall short. Instead, think about setting a series of realistic goals that steadily build on your progress and are based on an objective assessment of your current fitness levels.
6. Focusing On The Scales
If your main reason for working out is to lose weight, it’s vital that you not only rely on the scales in order to track your progress. Many people feel frustrated and confused by an apparent failure to lose weight when the truth is that fat is being lost while muscle is building. Measuring the circumference of your waist and hips can be a more accurate way to track fat loss.
7. Judging Performance By Sweat
Look at calories burned and distance travelled to assess how you have performed during a workout. Some people simply sweat more during exercise, and this doesn’t mean they’re actually working harder. As a side note, don’t make the mistake of weighing yourself after a sweaty workout and assuming you’ve lost extra fat. The water weight lost through sweat is quickly replenished by food and drink.
8. Low Intensity Workouts
Exercising should make you feel sweaty and out of breath, so if you’re able to leaf through a magazine or chat to a friend while you’re at the gym then you’re probably not pushing yourself hard enough. You will need to increase the intensity of your workouts if you want to change the way your body looks, feels and functions.
9. Inadequate Training Nutrition
Particularly important for those looking to see substantial muscle growth, proper training nutrition involves a high protein intake within 30-60 minutes after a workout. There are plenty of protein drinks to choose from, as well as lean meats that are packed with protein. Even those who aren’t that interested in building muscle will find they recover more quickly and feel more energetic if they consume plenty of protein after training.
10. Worrying About Heavy Weights
Finally, one of the most common workout mistakes seen in women is a tendency to lift very light weights out of fear of gaining “too much” muscle mass. If you can easily do 12-15 reps in a set, you’ll need to increase the resistance if you want to tone your body. There is a happy medium between sticking to feather-light weights and lifting so much that you look like a bodybuilder!