The Most Common Fitness Mistakes: What are they and how to avoid them
It is the start of the New Year and you are ready to start achieving your health and fitness goals – that is great! You’re motivated and determined and ready to go, but it is at this point that you need to assess your HOW and WHY to make sure that you achieve the goals you’ve set, and keep yourself healthy and injury free in the process! We work with an array of clients with varying experience and so we have compiled a list of common fitness mistakes we see in our practice and how YOU can avoid them in the pursuit of your health and fitness goals this year.
Below you can find our top 10 most common fitness mistakes, how to avoid them and how to incorporate them into your health and fitness journey.
1. You don’t have a plan and make it up on the go
One of the most important things when starting a new fitness routine is to create a schedule and a program and make it realistic and individualised to you. Going into the gym and jumping between machines is not going to get you the results you are after and it is going to leave you feeling pretty bored pretty quick! One of the most helpful things to do is to create or invest in an individualised program that considers your goals, experience, and ailments to make sure you are effectively working hard in the gym.
2. You tell yourself you are going to train for one hour every day of the week and burn yourself out!
Why do we set ourselves targets of ‘going to the gym every day’ or ‘running 5 times a week’?! No wonder we don’t enjoy going to the gym after a while! Setting realistic goals such as ‘moving for 30 minutes a day’ or ‘going to the gym 3 days per week’ might be the most realistic thing for you when starting out and it is important to think of these things to make sure you continue to enjoy exercise and keep motivated in pursuit of your goals.
3. You add weight to your exercises too quickly before performing the exercise correctly
How many times have you started to do an exercise and then have continued to add weight and then started to notice you are getting a few more aches and pains than usual? If you have never performed a back squat before (as an example) it is so important that you get the movement correct before adding weight. Look at YouTube videos that talk about form, start with your body weight and then move to dumbbells before using a barbell. Or perhaps invest in some guidance before doing it by yourself. Focusing on form instead of how heavy you can lift is key to your own success in the long run to avoid injury and seeing the results you want.
4. You are neglecting the things outside of exercise that is leading you to getting injured and exhausted
We like to call these the ‘low hanging fruit’. How is your sleep? What are you doing about your nutrition? Are you drinking enough water? How is your activity outside of the gym? Whilst these things might not be front of mind when it comes to seeing your fitness results, they are SO important when it comes to your longevity with exercise. The more we can optimise the things outside of the gym such as good quality sleep and eating enough or in accordance with your goals, the better the results will be in the long term.
5. Are you spending time warming up before and cooling down after exercise?
Depending on your experience and requirements, your warmup and cool down may look a bit different to the next person, however it is still vital to spend time warming up and cooling down to ensure you are priming your body for exercise, activating the right muscles and preventing injury. A minimum of 5 minutes at the start and the end of each session is preferable, starting the session with some dynamic stretching and/or cardiovascular based movements in order to get blood flow moving and ending the session with some static stretching to allow the heart rate to decrease, encouraging flexibility and promoting muscle recovery is suggested to stay healthy.
6. You avoid resistance training because you don’t want to get ‘bulky’
Resistance training, especially for women, is one of the most important forms of exercise for health longevity and to achieve the results you are wanting. Have you said that your goals are to be ‘toned’ or that you want to have ‘lean arms’, a ‘toned stomach’ or ‘round, shaped bum’? To truly achieve these results, it requires a certain level of muscle in order to create the ‘toned’ look you are after. Being ‘bulky’ is established by an excess of body fat, so with a calorie deficit and a combination of resistance and cardiovascular training in order to reduce your body fat, you can then establish the body shape you are after. In addition to this, resistance training is critical for our long-term bone health and reducing the likelihood of injuries or chronic pain in later life.
7. You are exercising in a way you don’t like because you heard from someone else it was really good for you
Are you doing burpees and jump squats because your neighbour told you that they did burpees and jump squats every day for a month and lost 5kgs? And deep down you really hate burpees? This may come as a surprise, but you can see the same results through different exercises! If you don’t like running, you absolutely don’t have to do it! Perhaps instead of running you do cardiovascular training you do enjoy such as swimming, cycling or group fitness classes? Whatever kind of exercise you enjoy and can stick to is the exercise you should keep up. Don’t overcomplicate it, leading to exercise you hate, enjoyment is key for sustainability long term.
8. You’re not tracking your workout to ensure you are progressing your exercises
Above we spoke about training programs and how they are effective to see the best results because they are individualised based on your goals and requirements. They also are great because they allow you to track your exercise history and ensure you are focusing on improving each week. Let’s use an example; last week you performed 3 sets of 6 push-ups on your knees. By placing this in your training program, you can then reflect and try and improve it the next week. Perhaps you aim for 3 sets of 7 or 8 push-ups or aim for 3 sets of 6 again however trying to do half of each set on your toes? Each week you are then trying to improve on the week before and writing down your progress each week to show the improvements in your strength.
9. You are focusing on the ‘calories burned’ or level of ‘sweat/exhaustion’ as the key measurement of success for a good session
Did you know that before fitness trackers and watches people still went to the gym and worked hard?! This equipment is extremely inaccurate and it is important to remember your WHY of training! It isn’t just to loose weight, it is also for the mental improvements it creates, the health longevity and also to be stronger for your day to day tasks. And if that means that you don’t sweat in every session, that’s ok! Depending on your goals, perhaps slow and steady movement might be just what your body needs. Take the pressure off and ENJOY what you do.
10. You are not pushing yourself in the gym
Similar to the point number 8, if your goal is to reduce body fat or to build strength in a certain lift like your squat or hip thrusts, you need to push yourself to a certain point of strain in order to really see the strength and muscle improvements you are after. Whilst we have mentioned above that form is important and breaking a sweat doesn’t indicate a good workout, walking away from a training session and feeling like you haven’t really worked hard is also not going to get you the results you are after. You want to feel the muscle groups working, you want to get your heart rate elevated and you want to try and feel some type of strain in most of your sessions to ensure that progression is occurring.
Remember that support, whether for a long time or a short time is so valuable in achieving your goals. So if you have the capacity to do so, even just for a few sessions, engage with a trainer or coach here at MotivatePT to help you plan out and stay dedicated towards your goals.
Written By Paige: Female fitness expert at MotivatePT – Reps Level 3 Qualified / Pre & Post Natal