It’s not a revolutionary concept that regular exercise is good for overall health and wellness. From strengthening your muscles and bones, improving cardiovascular health (DIY heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States?), to reducing stress and promoting better sleep, there are pretty limited drawbacks from working out (minus a sore muscle or two!)
However, simply sweating it out just won’t cut it. In order to reap all the benefits of regular exercise, it’s important that you do it the correct way. We’ve rounded up some of the most common workout mistakes you may be making – and even provide ways on how you may look to improve on fixing them!
1. Skipping on the Warmup
Sometimes you just want to jump into your whole regime and get it done in record time. However, going in cold can have damaging effects to your muscles and tissues. Warming up before exercising prepares your body for the workout ahead. As you begin to move, the temperature of your muscles and overall body will begin to rise, which increases blood flow. This leads to improved circulation and muscle elasticity – which can be a game changer for your range of motion. Think of trying to warm up your car on a freezing cold day – you don’t try and go 0 to 60 immediately, you have to give it time to prepare.
2. Static Stretching BEFORE a Workout
So now that we’ve covered the importance of stretching, we need to clarify the specific type of stretching you should be focusing on. Static stretching refers to a stretch that is held for 10 to 30 seconds. These slow your heart rate down, lowers injury risk, and helps with DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) – which is why it’s so important to leave these for AFTER your workout, not before. To prep your body for a good workout, try dynamic stretching beforehand. As we mentioned, this will help with increased blood flow and will get your muscles ready to move.
3. Overlooking the Importance of Recovery
Ah, recovery. If we could come up with one of the most common mistakes when it comes to working out, across the board, it’s the absence of recovery. Growth happens primarily through taking rest days so that you can allow your muscles to recover from any damage they’ve sustained during your workouts, ultimately allowing them to grow! A study done in 2018 really dives into the importance of rest days and how they can help prevent overtraining syndrome. Overtraining syndrome can cause fatigue, sleep loss, weight gain, depression – all leading to a stall in your progress. So, it’s really important that you remember to take a day here and there to help your body recover.
4. Being Inconsistent
When it comes to a proper workout, consistency is key! People often want to hop from one style of exercise to another, and while we can appreciate the enthusiasm to want to try it all, it’s simply better to create a proper routine as consistency is proven to yield better results. There are lots of different techniques and programs that can help you work to achieve your goals. HITT (high intensity interval training), resistance training, free-weights – you name it, it’ll work, but you need to keep at it. If you’re someone who craves novelty, however, switch up accessory exercises or add in a “free” day into your routine where you can try different activities or classes.
5. Getting Too Comfortable
If you’re someone who is a creature of habit, you can certainly catch yourself going through the motions of the same exercises. And don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a routine – in fact, we just talked about the importance of consistency – but in order to optimize your performance, you need to challenge yourself. Plus, if you do the same movements over and over again, you won’t see major progress AND overuse of muscles can actually cause injuries due to repetitive stress. To get out of the slump, try running a bit faster, or using 15lbs dumbbells instead of 12lbs. It doesn’t take much, we promise!
6. Insufficient Caloric Intake
A big no-no is training on an empty stomach. Remember food is fuel and without fuel, your body is not going to run properly. Try to eat something no less than 45 minutes prior to workout and aim for carbs and protein-rich foods. Post-workout is also important. Your body needs fuel to properly recover from all the stress you’ve just put on it.
7. Not Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is an essential function for you to operate on a day-to-day basis, regardless of the degree in which you workout. However, when you’re active, sleep working best to facilitate muscle growth and recovery, all while helping keep hormones that control your hunger in check! If you want to perform at your peak, make sure you’re getting at least six to eight hours of shuteye a night.
8. Holding Your Breath
Breathing while working out seems like a no-brainer, we know. But actually, it’s a common mistake lots of people make while training. Imagine, you’re at the end of an intense workout and you’re gripping the bar trying to get it up for one more rep – did you forget to breathe? Holding your breath during exercising can cause a spike in blood pressure and dizziness and can even lead to you passing out! Give your muscles the O2 they need by inhaling on the negative portion of your rep and exhaling on the positive.
9. Not Drinking Enough Water
In order to keep your muscles in tip top shape, you need to stay hydrated! H20 is so important when it comes to exercise because you’re consistency losing fluids as you’re training and they need to be replenished. Try drinking a few glasses before you start your session and keep a bottle handy for during and even after the workout. Staying hydrated will help relieve muscle soreness and speed up recovery and improve overall performance.
10. Only Focusing on Cardio
Don’t get us wrong, cardio is a fantastic technique which shouldn’t be overlooked. But overdoing it can lead to injury and overworked muscles. One of the most basic and important components of a training regimen is building muscle. In order to do that, you’ll need to create a split that encompasses strength training and cardio to optimize your workouts.
Just purchased a gym membership but you’re feeling a little anxious and unsure about what you’re getting yourself into? No sweat! Here are 5 tips to conquer your gym anxiety & rock your next training sesh!
Hayleigh Butcher is a Content Writer & Brand Strategist for Blender Networks. When she’s not managing blogs for FitMinutes, The-E-Tailer, Cartageous, InStyleRooms, NurturedPaws & Shoelistic, she’s finding a new trail to hike with her dog, Gemma or finding the best new spot in her hometown of Bedford, Nova Scotia for an iced coffee!