People often forget that exercise isn’t just about willpower; you need the right strategy, too. Getting it wrong can hamper your progress or worse, lead to injury. We want to help you correct your exercise mistakes so you can safely get the best results from your workout.
5 Biggest Mistakes Working Out
Running to lose weight
For people just getting into regular exercise, running seems like a natural extension of everyday behaviour, and therefore a great way to get in shape. However, cardio has been found to be less effective than weight training for burning fat. Even worse, excessive cardio will burn muscle at the same time, undoing your hard work!
Another reason to limit running is that the repeated impact on your joints takes a gradual toll, often leading to significant joint pain later in life. You can still get the cardiovascular benefits with more low impact equipment such as Elliptical, Air Stepper, Stair Master and Nordic Track.
Not sleeping enough
When you’re trying to achieve fitness goals alongside a full-time career, family and social life, sleep tends to fall from essential into the “nice to have” category. But when you regularly have poor or little sleep, it starts to affect your hormones. This leads to changes in mood, stress, and muscle recovery.
How can you expect to hit your targets when both your mind and body have had enough? Make the time for a regular good night’s sleep to improve both your workout and general wellbeing.
Tracking weight loss with scales
One of the most common workout mistakes is using scales to track your progress. Understand that scales can only tell you a number, not a breakdown of what contributes to that number. Don’t despair if you see your weight drop after you start working out, only to slowly climb back up as you increase your workouts. This is normal, as heavier muscle takes the place of fat.
Women often carry around five kilograms of water weight, which contributes to fluctuating scales readings. A better way to measure body fat is by how well your clothes fit, or by using a caliper.
Not fuelling up
Exercise requires energy, and energy comes from food. Working out on an empty stomach puts you at a disadvantage, making everything harder without any benefit. A healthy snack like fruit or nuts an hour before you hit the gym will give you something to work with. And of course, bring water to stay hydrated while you sweat.
Eating after a workout is also super important if you want to see results. Generally speaking, you have up to an hour (less for intense strength workouts) to get some protein into you to repair and build the muscles you’ve used. A fast absorbing shake or whey protein is best for getting to where you need it fast.
More is not always better. Exercising releases hormones into the bloodstream, but once your workout passes 45 to 55 minutes, your body can go into a negative hormonal state. This often results in adrenal fatigue and reduced performance, so know when to stop.
Rest days are of paramount importance when doing high-intensity workouts. People can forget that muscles don’t build while you’re working them; they build when you stop. The harder you push yourself, the more time you have to leave before taxing those same muscles again. Working out before you’ve recovered can cause injury and be bad for your health. If you regularly feel exhausted, irritable, sad, sore, get sick easily or have trouble sleeping, you may need to dial back your workout frequency and/or intensity.