Basic exercise may seem like a simple concept. But when exercising, there are some common mistakes that people make which, when avoided, will make exercising more effective. Here are some of the most common exercise mistakes out there:
- Never stretch cold muscles. Stretching can cause muscle pulls and tears.
- Don’t stretch the muscles you’re working between sets. This can weaken them and lead to injury.
- Never bounce while stretching.
Have goals and a basic plan. If you don’t, you won’t easily recognize your progress. Commit your plan to paper. Are you looking to build muscle, tone, or just lose weight? Write down your starting weight. Take starting measurements. Chart your progress. Don’t evaluate your results until the end of your planned program. It’s best to have a six to twelve week plan.
Make written notation about your starting numbers. Write down how many reps you’re doing and with what weight. When you increase the weights, document that it. Keep track so when you look back you’ll see your progress.
Find a gym that has a well-educated staff. Some gym memberships include a personal training session. Have them show you the proper ways to bench press. If you’re using the machines, have them show you the proper adjustments for your size. Trainers should be able to tell you which machines are best for your size and goals. Don’t assume you need to use every machine that’s in the gym. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean it suits your particular goals.
Don’t use a gym partner for motivation. Be your own motivation. Working out is a solo activity. When you’re at the gym focus on your form and goals. Gym partners can cause you to waste time as you stand around waiting for your turn on a machine. Gym partners can also deflate your motivation if they continually cancel on you. Hold only yourself accountable, and make it happen.
Improper Hydration and Nutrition
Hydration: You must stay well hydrated before, during and after your workout. Your muscles need water to prevent aching and spasms. When you’re active you need at least 16 glasses of water each day. Don’t try to hydrate with sports drinks, as those are for serious athletes who are training for an intense activity.
Nutrition: Stick to the lean meats, vegetables and whole grains. After a workout, have a protein shake. The best protein shakes contain whey isolate.
Carb-Loading Before a Workout: Carb-loading is good if you’re going to run a marathon the next day or if you’re a professional athlete preparing for a big game. It’s not good for the everyday fitness routine. Stick with protein and healthy fats for your pre-workout meal.
Doing Too Much – Rest, Recovery & Variation
Don’t overdo it. Don’t go the gym every day. Take at least one full day completely off. Your muscles build strength when your body is resting. If you don't rest your muscles, they'll become fatigued. Start your workout program slowly and stick with it. Increase volume and intensity gradually.
Don’t limit yourself to a single type of exercise. Work a different muscle group each day. Be sure to fit in both cardio and strength training. Do more than 25 minutes of cardio, but less than 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, your body starts to work off your hard earned muscle mass. Mix up your running cardio workout with the elliptical or stair climbing machines.
Get enough sleep. If you’re getting up at the crack of dawn to get to the gym early, make sure you’re going to bed early the night before. Sleep deprivation affects hormone levels and mental acuity. If you can’t get to the gym early enough, try shorter, more intense workouts during the day.
Don’t get bored. Try a new class. If your gym offers fitness classes, look into something you’ve never tried before. Try aerobics, kickboxing, and spin classes. A new exercise class can be both challenging and motivating, and bring new results you never thought possible.