As a fitness trainer, I often see people making mistakes while working out in gym or at home. These bad fitness habits sub-optimize their workouts and as a result they fail to achieve their health and fitness goals – so much so, they are not only exposed to high risk of injury but their long term health is also compromised.
While you can get a lot of fitness tips on Internet, but it can become confusing when one source says some thing, and another says the opposite. To save you from the frustration in trying to figure out what’s true or what’s not, here are the 9 most common fitness blunders that could be keeping you from achieving your fitness goals from your workouts. Check if you can relate to any one of these bad workout habits – it’s time to correct you to get the most out of your workouts.
Working Out On Empty Stomach Or Eating full Meal Before Workout
While working out, your body requires some glucose (blood sugar) for fuel in addition to what it can use from fat stores. If there is no blood sugar available, your body can eat into it’s own muscle tissue to get glycogen for fuel once it runs out of available blood sugar or glycogen stores. Working out with low blood sugar (without any food in your stomach) will also make you tired faster and affect your performance – thereby keeping you from doing an intense workout.
While eating before a workout supplies your body fuel to push through, that doesn’t mean you should gorge yourself. A full meal before a workout can result in to nausea & cramps.
A good habit is to eat something forty-five minutes to an hour prior to training. Try eating a banana, low-fat yogurt with berries, or few tablespoons of natural peanut butter with apple slices. These are quick, healthy snacks that will supply your body with the energy it needs for an intense workout.
Not stretching your muscles before and after workout.
Dynamic stretching should be done to warm and loosen up your body. If you skip out on doing dynamic stretches prior to workout, you are setting yourself up for injuries. Do five-ten minutes of cardio (examples are jog, stationary bike, elliptical, jump rope, jumping jacks) followed by some form of dynamic stretching such as arm swings & butt kicks. Also you can mimic the movement of the exercise, without or with lighter weight) that you are going to do.
Note: Dynamic stretching means stretching with motion (without bounce to avoid injury), so that you warm up the muscles slowly, in a functional way.
Caution: Don’t perform static stretches before workout.
When we strength train, our muscles contract & become stiff. Static stretching after workout helps reset the muscles to their natural position. Ignoring post-workout stretches will lead to a world of pain later. Set aside 5 to ten minutes for static stretching after your workout session.
For example, when you do a lot of heavy lifting then your hamstrings gradually become stronger and if you forget to do static stretching they will get tighter, and your pelvis will be pulled down, which can change the curve of your spine over time.
Getting Stuck With Same Workout Routine
Often people perform a routine that they do over & over again. This is bad because your body will adapt to the routine in a matter of weeks and will stop progressing. So, what you need is to change your routine every 2-3 weeks.
Consider changing the types of exercises you are performing and playing with the amount of reps, sets, and weights you are using. For example try doing fewer reps with heavier weights.
Also, consider adding new classes to your routine such as barbell, dumbbells, kettle bells, different machines, dance, CrossFit, yoga, etc. By training in different ways, your body does not get chance to adapt to any particular routine, thereby becomes more efficient, well rounded, and less prone to injury.
Pushing Your Body Too Hard
On the flipside of underperforming, is overtaxing your body. Very often I see people pushing themselves too hard and not providing enough time to the body to recover. There are many studies that have reported this can cause loss of muscle and injuries.
You always need to understand and be aware of your strength level and do workouts within your limitations. Injuring yourself will put you out of the game for weeks!
Doing Not Enough Strength Training And Performing Excessive Cardio.
Don’t get me wrong; cardio is really GREAT for your body. It gets your heart rate go up and is an effective way of burning a lot of calories and losing fat. But studies have reported that too much cardio causes muscle loss & injury as well (Source) . To get best results you should include strength training in your workout routine. It will help you increase your lean muscle mass and step up your resting metabolic rate.
Useful Related Post: What Is Better To Start With Cardio Or Weight Training?
Training Without A Plan
You should have a clear workout plan before you head out to the gym or starting a workout session even at home. Best is to come up with a workout plan the night before & jot it down on a piece of paper or your mobile phone. Without a clear plan, you will wander around thinking which machine/equipment to us, so will waste your time and have an inefficient workout session. A clear plan will help you stay focused & keep the intensity up.
Drinking Energy Drinks
Unless you are training hard, you don’t require energy drinks or electrolytes. Mostly water is the best way to stay hydrated ensuring that you are not taking sugar and the extra calories. Moreover, besides containing a lot of calories & sugar, the energy drinks many times contain chemicals.
Performing Weak Reps
Most people unknowingly or otherwise tend to use incorrect form. Many just do half and quarter reps rather than completing full range of motion, leaving a lot of potential untapped. A full range of motion will build more muscle & burn more calories. For example, instead of performing half squats, squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground or below that.
Some gyms do have a strict ban on cellphone use. Phone is huge distraction at the gym. Strictly avoid logging into Facebook, texting, or checking out Snapchat.
The only way to get best results in fitness is by keeping your workout intensity high, and that can’t be done if your phone constantly distracts you. Using your smartphone to play music during workout is ok, but then put it down so as to focus on your workout.
So, next time you workout keep in mind to avoid these BAD workout/fitness/gym habits to get maximum out of your workouts!