OVER ANALYZING: One of the most common mistakes newcomers make is overanalyzing fitness. For a small percentage of the world, changing lifelong habits may be easy, but for most of us, it doesn’t happen overnight. We all know how to be healthy and get in shape: work out and eat healthy, nutritious foods. Almost every new client has hundreds of questions but the main point is that as a beginner, it’s a mistake to make fitness (and overall well-being) too complicated for yourself. If you eat good, nutritious food, drink lots of water, and challenge yourself in your workouts, your body will improve – don’t make it rocket science! Easing into a new lifestyle habit should be done gradually and jumping on fad diets that promise you results in 30 days is just setting you up for failure. Slowly decreasing amounts of bad foods and increasing good foods and movement is the best way to not only kick start being healthy, it is the most realistic way to make it a lifestyle.
IMPATIENT: If getting a perfectly healthy body was a fast, easy process, wouldn’t everyone be in shape? Many newcomers to fitness expect instant results and if they don’t see a change in the first month (or even 2 weeks), they get bored and give up. If you begin a fitness journey plan on doing it for life, not just 30 days. Even if you did see great results in a month if you stop eating right, went back to old habits and quit going to the gym, it wouldn’t be long before you’re back to your old body. If you aren’t seeing the results you thought you would at first, don’t be discouraged – one month, three months, or however long it may take is still a short time compared to a lifetime of living a healthy lifestyle. Diets and quick fixes do not work – consistency over time is what gets long-lasting results.
REPETITION: Many people see great results at first and then one day they hit a plateau and haven’t seen changes in weeks. The problem here is getting overly repetitive. We workout to get stronger and more fit and that is exactly what happens every time you go the gym. Eventually, things become easy. The treadmill is a great example – if you run 2 miles every day of the week, every time you run those 2 miles, you’re getting a little stronger, a little faster, and eventually it is easier on your body. So before you know it, your body isn’t having to work as hard, so you don’t burn the same amount of calories in those 2 miles as you did before – hence, lower or no progression or a “plateau”. In terms of weights, if you’re lifting weights to get stronger and haven’t seen a difference you should be consistently adding more weight to keep up the challenge, along with adding more sets and exercise variations. Keeping your body guessing and challenged is the key to getting stronger and seeing consistency in your results until you’ve reached your goal and beyond.
OVERLIFTING: Challenging yourself is one thing, there is no shame in wanting to lift as much weight as possible but it won’t do you much good if you get hurt. Being attached to the numbers is more of a workout for your ego than anything else. Instead of busting out all that poundage, ease up and focus on the quality of the movement instead. Keep in mind that gains happen during the eccentric (stretch) portion of the lift—plus you’ll be less likely to injure yourself. Use a two-second up (concentric) and five-second down/stretch (eccentric) focus so you control the weight the entire way—and use a weight that works within this range for you.
HIGH REP ONLY: Unlike your bank account, higher numbers aren’t necessarily better. When it comes to reps, using too much weight, cranking out 100 pushups or crunches is more for the sake of your ego and bragging rights than anything else. High reps prominently uses Type I muscle fibers, which works aerobic and muscle endurance, but have limited effect on hypertrophy (muscle growth) or strength. Again it’s quality over quantity – focus on using perfect form and keep reps in line with your goals. For strength gains the National Strength and Conditioning Assoc. recommends using weight you can lift for 6 good reps; use 6 – 12 reps for muscle growth and more than 12 reps for muscle endurance. Training for power requires the heaviest weights and only 1 – 5 reps per set.
SKIPPING THE WARM UP: Without a proper warmup, you’re asking your body to work before the oxygen and blood flow reach the muscles. Not only are you increasing the risk for injury (and with cardiovascular exercise, you raise the heart rate too fast) but also hurt your overall performance. When the muscles are not warmed up they are not as pliable therefore you won’t be able to lift as much weight and are susceptible to torn muscles. Get your blood flowing by spending a few minutes on the treadmill, walking in place, elliptical or exercise bike.
NO COOL DOWN: At the end of your workout, don’t come to sudden stop. If you don’t take the time cool down, you risk muscle injury and unnecessary soreness because you haven’t flushed the lactic acid out of your system. It only takes about 5 minutes at a slower pace to let your heart rate come down.
EXERCISING ON AN EMPTY STOMACH: A few years back, the idea of running on empty (exercising on an empty stomach) was all the rage in weight loss training. Scientific data now shows that this strategy will ultimately backfire. If you perform cardiovascular exercise first thing in the morning before you’ve eaten, insulin levels are at their lowest, while another hormone, glucagon, is at its peak. This encourages your body to draw on its fat reserves for fuel. This sounds like a great thing however, since fat metabolism is dependent on the availability of carbohydrate, when carb stores are low, fat metabolism is compromised. This makes exercise feel much harder, so you may tire sooner or slack off and end up burning fewer calories and less body fat overall. Even worse, you could end up losing hard-earned muscle as you start burning protein (muscle) instead of fat for fuel. So always make sure you’ve eaten something before you exercise!
LACK OF FLEXIBILITY TRAINING: To achieve true fitness you really need to be able to move freely in all directions without any limitations to your range of motion (ROM). This is where flexibility training comes in, as it helps keeps your tendons and ligaments elastic and your muscles relaxed. Yoga and Pilates work well for this, but you’ll want to avoid static stretching (in which you hold a stretch for 60 seconds or more). New research is showing that prolonged static stretching actually decreases the blood flow within your tissue creating restriction in blood supply and lactic acid buildup. This can potentially cause irritation or injury of local muscular, tendonitis, lymphatic, as well as neural tissues. A better option is dynamic or active stretching which has been shown to help improve power, speed, agility, endurance, flexibility, and strength performance when used as a warm-up.
OVER DOING IT: Whether on a treadmill at home or working out at a gym, people tend to do too much too soon. They put themselves at risk for an orthopedic injury. When you first start out exercising, you may fall in to the trap of assuming that the more often you do it, the faster you’ll see results. But overdoing it at the start is a key cause of injury and burnout. Not only is it important to start slow and build your intensity gradually, but it’s also important to give your body adequate time for recovery. An equation to keep in mind is that as intensity increases, frequency can be diminished. Once your strength and endurance improves, each exercise session is placing an increasingly greater amount of stress on your body (as long as you keep pushing yourself to the max). At that point, it’s actually wise to give your body enough time to recover in between. In fact, you need to allow your body to fully recuperate in between sessions in order for the exercise to remain productive. If you’re not sure if you’re exercising too intensely and/or too frequently check out our blog from last week (August 20th) on “ARE YOU OVERTRAINING?”
WORKING OUT ON YOUR OWN: If you’re not sure how to best exercise to reach your fitness goals (whether they be to lose weight, build strength, improve performance, or otherwise), a qualified fitness trainer can be invaluable. He or she can guide you in a fitness program that will be the appropriate intensity and duration to help you meet your goals while avoiding injury. A trainer can also teach you proper technique for exercises like squats or free weights. Even one session with a trainer can give you valuable insights into proper form when you work out. If you would like a free consultation and/or introductory workout, contact us at 678-417-0880 ext. 8301 / email@example.com