Avoid These 8 Common Exercise Mistakes to Maximize Your Fitness Journey
Congratulations pursuing your fitness journey and creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself! With so much going on, it is not easy making yourself a priority. If you are a fitness beginner, there are some things you NEED to know. In this article, we will unpack the most common exercise mistakes so you don’t have to learn the hard way. After reading this, you can embark on your fitness journey with confidence.
1. Don’t Skip the Warm-Up, Cool-Down and Stretch
One of the most common exercise mistakes newbies starting their fitness journey make is assuming the warm-up, cool-down and stretch at the end is optional. They’re not! Warming up is so important because it prepares your body to be physically strained by gradually increasing your heart rate and loosening your muscles. The warm-up also lubricates your joint which is so important to do before you start loading them with pressure. In our joints we have something called synovial fluid. Like coconut oil, at room temperature this fluid isn’t fully liquid, so it can’t spread around enough to lubricate our joint properly. Warming up your body and moving your joints through their full range of motion makes sure that synovial fluid has properly coated your joints! This is so important for preventing injuries.
Similarly, cool-down exercises allow your body to gradually return to its resting state. It is important that your heart-rate gradually returns to a steady state. When you’re working out, your muscle contractions are actually helping your blood get back up to your heart. If your heart-rate is high, and you suddenly stop moving, it can cause you to feel nauseous!
Stretching is so important for helping your muscles grow properly, and for improving flexibility. The way that muscles grow is that by working them, you create lots of micro tears in them. Those tears heal with new muscle tissue, and that’s how they grow! When you don’t stretch after a workout you not only feel tighter and more sore afterwards, but you affect how your muscles heal. Skipping these crucial steps will lead to injuries and hinder your fitness journey.
2. Focusing Only on Cardio During Your Fitness Journey
While cardiovascular exercises are beneficial for overall health, incorporating strength training into your routine is crucial for building lean muscle mass, keeping your bones strong and improving your metabolism. Did you know that lifting weights improves bone density? And, did you know the more muscle mass you have the more calories you burn at rest? Weightlifting, resistance training, and even bodyweight exercises are not to be underestimated in your fitness journey. Strive for a balanced fitness regimen that includes both cardio and strength training exercises. Remember that the best fitness regimen for you is the one you can stick to. So, if you prefer cardio, just make sure you’re adding a little resistance training to the mix!
3. Only Using Light Weights – Your Fitness Journey Needs You to Challenge Yourself
You cannot enjoy all the benefits of resistance training if you are only lifting very light weights. If looking bulky is something you’re afraid of, know that women having lower testosterone levels that men is what makes it hard to gain significant muscle mass. Instead of shying away from heavier weights, focus on proper form and gradually increase the weight. Make lifting heavy weights part of your fitness journey!
4. Neglecting Core Exercises
A strong core is the foundation of a well-rounded fitness routine, yet it is often overlooked. A weak core can lead to poor posture, back pain (and even injuries), and poor stability. A strong core protects your spine in day-to-day life, and also when doing compound movements like squats and deadlifts with heavy weights. Incorporate exercises like planks and sit-ups into your routine to strengthen your core muscles. We have free guides up on this already: amazing ab exercises that strengthen your core and the best ab exercises to do at home. Note that while you need good core strength to do heavy compound movements, those movements (when done properly) strengthen your core.This is another benefit of resistance or weight training. A strong core will enhance your overall performance and help prevent injuries.
5. Overtraining and Lack of Rest During Your Fitness Journey
You don’t need to leave every workout drenched in sweat in order to see results. Slow and steady wins the race. Making small and sustainable changes over time is more likely to lead to a lifelong lifestyle change than an all-or-nothing approach. Also, rest and recovery are essential for muscle repair and growth. So, rest days are actually contributing towards your goals! Ensure you incorporate rest days into your schedule and do listen to your body. You can find out more about why we need to have rest days here.
If you have a menstrual cycle, show yourself some extra love! For example, day 1 of your period might not be the day for HIIT. We have a post all about exercising with your menstrual cycle. Also, there is a lot of research to show that alternating between intense workouts and lighter activities is more effective for your fitness journet than relentless and brutal workouts anyway. You need to challenge your body in different ways and give your muscles time to recover to be truly fit and healthy.
6. Improper Form
Maintaining proper form is crucial for both effectiveness and injury prevention during your fitness journey. How you perform each exercise is more important than how many reps you do or how much weight you’re holding. You can cause both repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) such as Tennis Elbow and acute injuries like a herniated spinal disc. Focus on performing each exercise with correct alignment, engaging the right muscles, and avoiding momentum-driven movements. Consider seeking guidance from a qualified personal trainer such as one of ours!, or at the very least study YouTube tutorials to ensure proper form.
7. Focusing On Consistency Over Intensity
One thing few people consider is how much more effective and less stressful your fitness journey is when you’re focused on consistency over intensity. There is no point in telling yourself you’ll go to the gym 5 times a week if you’re actually showing twice, then once, then not at all for 2 weeks. If consistency is a problem, lower the bar! 15 minutes a day done well will give you great results. You can try shortening your workouts, making them closer to home, or training with a friend. Many people hire a personal trainer purely to ensure they’re consistent by holding them accountable. A personal trainer will show up for you no matter what, make sure you get a fantastic workout, and hold you accountable. This post offers some great tips for being more consistent with your workouts.
8. Not Eating Enough
Many people start their fitness journey with a sudden and drastic decrease in their calorie consumption. You might think you’re doing yourself a favour, but you’re not!
Sudden and drastic drops in caloric intake put your body into a shock response. It no longer trusts that food is coming so starts holding onto as much weight as possible. This is how yo-yo dieting damages your metabolism and makes weight loss harder! Your body needs to feel safe to lose weight, so give it what it needs. Don’t deprive yourself of the nutrients your body needs to thrive, and don’t try eating 1000 calories less than you usually would.
You do need a calorie deficit to lose weight but that deficit doesn’t need to be huge. You also need fuel for your workouts! For sustainable change, make small and consistent changes to your diet, and don’t beat yourself up when you have a day or two of slipping into old habits. Pick yourself up, and carry on. We have a post on healthy eating that gives you lots of helpful guidance.
Now you know the most common beginner mistakes, continue your fitness journey in confidence! To recap, you need to warm up and cool down properly to prevent injuries and nausea. You need to adopt a variety of exercise styles to ensure you get a well-rounded level of fitness. Challenging yourself with the weights you’re lifting, taking care of your core strength, and taking time to rest and recover will ensure you have a body that feels great for years to come. Finally, remember that consistency is always more important than quantity. Don’t commit yourself to more than feels manageable because if you’re inconsistent, you’re not going to see the results you want! Don’t let perfectionism hold you back.