You think you’ve been doing great work at the gym, making great efforts to keep your body in shape; and yet, you’re still not seeing the results you want.
Odds are, you might have a bad exercise habit (or several) that you need to break. It’s time to identify the issues with your workouts that may be holding you back, so you can reap the benefits from your regime.
Here are some of the most common bad exercise habits to avoid.
1. Skipping Gym Days
We’re all guilty of skipping a workout every now and again, but unfortunately, this can quickly become a slippery slope. Once you skip one day, it becomes easy to skip the next and the next; pretty soon, you’ve fallen off your fitness wagon completely.
Each time you skip a workout, it becomes much easier to “give in” the next time. The keyword here is discipline. Working out is truly a mental game of mind over matter. Remember, it’s not your mind that has to perform; it’s your body. Try some of these tips to motivate yourself to exercise (even if you really don’t want to), lace up those shoes, and get moving. The more often you exercise, the more you’ll want to do it, and vice versa. In the end, your workout regime is all about putting yourself first and making time for yourself — and that is never a bad idea. Think about it: You may regret skipping a gym day, but you will never regret an awesome workout session.
2. Not Taking Rest Days
At the same time, there are those of us who have the opposite issue when it comes to gym frequency; a.k.a, those who are overly ambitious with their workouts and want to work out every day, sometimes twice a day, without rest.
While it may seem like, “more is more,” this actually a major fitness mistake — doing this could lead to injury, burn out and muscle fatigue. Your muscles need rest in order to build back bigger and stronger, and without this rest, they may actually lose mass and begin to wither. This is especially true if you’re training the exact same muscle groups every single day, so make sure to rest your muscles.
Mix up the routines for well-rounded fitness; if you’re doing an intense weight-lifting workout one day, go for a more gentle yoga session the next.
3. Skipping Stretching / The Cool Down
At long last, you’ve crossed the imaginary (or literal) finish line of your workout, and it’s time for a cool down. You put in hard work and you gave it your all. This is your chance to catch your breath, decompress and congratulate yourself on a job well done.
Instead of rushing out the gym immediately after your workout make sure you put in time to cool down, stretch and take care of the body that’s worked so hard for you. Not only will you prevent injuries and have a better recovery, but you’ll feel more motivated to work out next time knowing that a good solid cool-down awaits you at the end. These methods, tips and tricks will help you make the most of your downtime and prime your body for optimal recovery.
4. Resting For Too Long Between Sets
While taking a small break between sets is important, doing this too much is not really beneficial. Your heart rate sets back when you rest, preventing your body from refueling the muscles. You want to keep your muscles engaged and your heart rate up, to really push yourself and improve your fitness. Aim to rest anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds in between sets, and no more than this.
5. Only Doing Steady-State Cardio
Many people think that hopping on a treadmill and running at a steady pace is the best way to burn calories and lose weight. We’re here to tell you: Stop wasting your time. Steady-state cardio (30 minutes to an hour of cardio that doesn’t vary in intensity) is possibly the single worst way to burn calories. It’s both slow and ineffective. While cardio is awesome for you heart and should not be skipped, intense, HIIT-style workouts are far more effective in this case. But, most importantly, building muscle mass is your best bet for weight loss.
Strength-training workouts burn calories for hours after your workout is over, compared to cardio that burns calories only while you’re working out. The more muscle you have on your body, the higher your metabolism, which will allow you to burn more calories around the clock, even while at rest. If weight loss is your goal, use your time more wisely. You can cut your cardio time down and increase your cardio calorie burn by doing intervals (alternating high-intensity intervals with lower intensity intervals), and be sure to strength train all your major muscle groups at least twice per week. Studies show that lifting weights boosts your metabolism and increases muscle mass, which helps you lose weight in the long run.
6. Not Eating Or Drinking Enough
Many people fall into this weight-loss trap, whereby they try to skip meals or eat too little in an effort to lose more weight with their exercise regime. If I intensify my efforts, they think, I’ll get better results.
While this is true in the short-term, it’s unsustainable. A lack of the right nutrients to fuel your workouts can result in dizziness, fatigue and less productive workouts. Ironically, you may actually see worse results by not giving your body the fuel it needs to encourage muscle growth. Avoid this problem by always eating a protein-heavy meal after a workout and never, ever skipping a meal. Choose clean meals that are rich in vegetables, protein and complex carbs, and remember to drink plenty of water before and after a workout to avoid dehydration.
7. Practicing Bad Form
When you sacrifice form, whether out of laziness or because you’ve chosen too heavy a weight, you are performing each exercise in a less-than-optimal level and therefore you won’t see the results you want. Rushing through the motions or practicing improper form also increases the risk of injury, especially if you are lifting weights. What good is a heavy squat if you blow out your knee and can’t work out for weeks? Do your research through reputable, educational sources, talk to a trainer, use your mirrors, and educate yourself on proper exercise form.
8. Rewarding Your Workouts With Junk Food
Most people overestimate how many calories they burn at the gym (and no, you can’t trust the display on the machine.) And while it’s true that you need protein after a strength-training workout to repair and rebuild damaged muscles, that snack should never be in the form of additional calories or processed junk; rather, you should strategically time the end of your workout with a protein-rich meal or snack that you were already going to have to begin with. Remember: A great body is built in the kitchen, not the gym, and you can’t out-train a bad diet.
Are you putting in tons of effort but not seeing the results you want? You may be committing some of these common gym blunders. Take a good look at your workout regime and fix these fitness faux-pas to ensure you’re getting the most out of your workout.Need some extra inspiration to get you through the day and to the gym? Try these 10 motivational tactics and get going!