If you’re trying to get fit, lose weight and be healthier, setting up a regular exercise regimen is important. But just working out regularly isn’t enough — unless your programme is properly designed to achieve your goals, you could just be wasting your time! Read on to learn six missteps to avoid and make sure your programme is helping you meet your goals.
Let’s face it: Working out is not always fun. When you’re faced with the prospect of leaving the gym a sweat-drenched, noodle-limbed mess, it can be tempting to come up with an excuse to take a leisurely stroll on the treadmill instead. But if you aren’t challenging yourself, your body won’t burn more calories, build more muscle, improve your blood pressure or build towards any of the other health goals you may have. You shouldn’t be killing yourself (see the next section), but if a workout isn’t taking something out of you, you won’t be gaining much from it either.
The other side of the coin from undertraining, overtraining happens when people push themselves so hard they never see any gains. This happens because it’s not actually the workout that improves your body — it’s the rest afterwards. If you work out too hard or too often, your body never has the chance to rebuild and recover, strengthening muscles and improving cardiovascular ability. Instead, you limp from workout to workout in a state of physiological disrepair. Make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard and that you have plenty of time to rest and recuperate (usually two whole days) before you do another intense workout.
Using the Wrong Tools
Everyone has their own goals when they work out. Whether it’s losing weight, building muscle or just feeling healthier, people’s reasons for exercising vary. And just as two people might have different goals, the right methods for pursuing those goals will be different, too. If you’re working towards running a marathon, for instance, you wouldn’t spend all your time lifting weights. And someone who wanted to put on extra muscle wouldn’t see the results they wanted if all they did was jog. Think carefully about what your goals are and revise your routine to make sure the exercise you do is actively moving you towards where you want to be.
Doing Too Much Too Fast
You wouldn’t put 200 kg on your barbell the first time you tried lifting (hopefully!) but many people try to jump into fitness programmes without first building the proper foundation. Before you really throw yourself into a new set of exercises, make sure you understand proper form and are approaching them correctly, with the necessary stretching, warm ups, cool downs, etc. Not only will this prevent injury, it will make sure you’re getting the most out of your exercise — poor form is just as likely to make workouts ineffective as it is to get you hurt. It can be helpful to schedule time with a personal trainer or work out with an experienced friend for a while until you’re confident you’re performing your routine correctly.
Lack of Variation
This one can really sneak up on people, and it can make even strenuous workout sessions a waste of time: Your body is constantly seeking equilibrium, and it will eventually adapt to any exercise programme you set up. If you don’t regularly change your routine — subbing in new exercises, adding weight, running farther, etc. — you’ll eventually “plateau” and be unable to progress towards your goal. If you’re lifting, be sure to up the weight regularly; if you’re running, progressively increase the distance as you approach your goal; and if you’re going for all-around better fitness, experiment regularly with new types of exercises to keep things fresh.
Speaking of keeping things fresh, if you’re bored silly by your programme, you’re probably not going to stick with it for too long! Even if everyone sometimes dreads exercise, those who find success follow routines that they can find enjoyment in. So if nothing sounds drearier to you than running on a treadmill for an hour, don’t do it! Instead, try running outside or joining a cardio dance class. Similarly, if pumping iron isn’t for you, look into kettlebell routines or think even farther outside the box: Wall climbing can help build lean muscle and burn calories. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something you’ll be able to return to regularly.
The information in this article is provided for education and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose. The information in this article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial or any other advice. The information in this article is general in nature and is not specific to you the user or anyone else.