You may be fitting in your fitness day in and day out, but are you sabotaging your results by making one (eek…or more!) of these workout mistakes? We’ve rounded up some of the most common exercise errors you may be making, explained how they’re holding you back, and provided tips to fix them so that you get the most out of every sweat session.
Workout Mistake 1: Skipping Warm ups
Setback: As excited as you may be to get your workout started (or to just get it done with), working out with cold muscles can cause injuries.
Fitness Fix: Find a full-body exercise or set of exercises that allows you to start slow and then build momentum toward a quicker pace. The idea is to get all of your body parts moving and your heart pumping for about five to 10 minutes before diving into your real routine. A few warm ups to consider:
- Jumping rope
- Walking and jogging intervals
- A series of jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups and lunges
Workout Mistake 2: Choosing the Wrong Attire
Setback: Wardrobe malfunctions don’t just happen on the red carpet. And when they occur mid-workout, they can slow you down or straight up stop you.
Fitness Fix: If you’re trying something new, such as a yoga class or CrossFit WOD, ask the studio or gym what you should wear. A quick Google search can also help provide some examples. Whether you’re wearing something you already own or sporting some new threads, give them a trial run before putting them through the full workout paces. For example, jog around the block in new shoes before taking them out for a few miles. Or do a few downward-facing dogs and inverted poses to make sure the strappy sports bra you just bought actually keeps the girls in place.
Workout Mistake 3: Going Too Hard, Too Often
Setback: Overtraining can deplete your energy levels, increase your risk for injuries and getting sick, and leave you with sore muscles that make everyday activities feel excruciating.
Fitness Fix: While it’s commendable that you’ve caught the fitness bug and don’t want to let it go, remember that more doesn’t necessarily equal better. Take things down a notch by making your workouts more efficient. Instead of doing cardio for hours on end, choose high-intensity interval training. In about 20 minutes or less, you can get in a killer cardio and strength training that are likely more beneficial to your body then spending hours on a treadmill or the back of a bike.
Workout Mistake 4: Not Pushing Hard Enough
Setback: Avoid really challenging your body, and you’ll plateau faster and more often.
Fitness Fix: Be mindful while exercising. If your thoughts are wandering, thinking about the errands you have to run or the meeting you have scheduled with your boss, you’re probably just going through the motions instead of putting your body to test. Also, if you’re barely breaking a sweat, your heart rate stays in a relatively normal range, or your breathing isn’t a bit labored, you’re probably dogging it. Increase the intensity by adding more weight and/or reps during strength training, more inclines during cardio, or more intervals during a combo of both.
Workout Mistake 5: Not Taking Active Rest Days
Setback: Without rest and recovery, strength and muscles will take longer to develop and your immune system will become overworked, which means becoming more susceptible to getting sick.
Fitness Fix: Take a break! That doesn’t mean you have to camp out on the couch all day, but it does mean slowing things down. If your muscles are sore, take a walk to help deliver the blood they need to feel better. Try a slow Yin yoga class instead of the intense Bikram style you usually do. Or spend 15 to 20 minutes stretching and rolling out on a foam roller.
Workout Mistake 6: Repeating the Same Workout Every Day
Setback: Your body and mind will get bored, and the results you saw in the beginning will peter.
Fitness Fix: If you love the workout you do, great! Keep doing it. But just remember to throw in a few changes, be it different exercises, time intervals, or workouts. Your muscles remember what you do, and the more you do the same, the less challenged they’ll be to keep growing–and thus help your fat burning goals. The same goes for your brain. In the beginning, it may be nice to have a set routine to rely upon, but over time you may need more motivation to avoid things growing stagnant.
Workout Mistake 7: Not Drinking Enough Water
Setback: Dehydration can leave your sluggish and dizzy, cause you to cramp, and even be dangerous to your health.
Fitness Fix: Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your workout. If you feel thirsty, your body is already showing signs of dehydration. In addition to drinking water, you can also eat fruits and vegetables-rich in water, such as celery and melons.
Workout Mistake 8: Ignoring Aches and Pains
Setback: Sore muscles are one thing, but if you’re experiencing pain, you could sidelined by a full-blown injury.
Fitness Fix: Whether you have chronic dull pain or are experiencing more intense sharp pains with your daily movements, it’s time to see your doctor. While it’s admirable to want to keep moving ahead with your workouts and fat loss progress, the earlier you catch an injury the less likely it will cause a real interruption to your exercise routine.