Most of us are proud – and rightfully so – when we exercise. It’s not always easy, or fun, but we know it’s the right thing to do for our long-term health and mental well-being.
However, bad habits can make workouts less effective than they should be. Below are 8 of the most common exercise pitfalls that may be negatively affecting your gym time.
(But if you do find yourself falling into one of the bad fitness habits listed below, don’t beat yourself up! There’s plenty of time to adjust your routine to get its maximum benefit.)
Not feeling the burn
More commonly known as “undertraining,” not pushing yourself (i.e. feeling the burn) is a bad habit that can render a workout far less effective as it might otherwise be. Undertraining can include bad form or posture on various exercises or going through reps so quickly that your muscles aren’t properly challenged.
On the flip side, however, many exercise aficionados think if working out some is good, working out MORE is better. This isn’t always the case. Known as “overtraining,” committing yourself to too much activity can result in pulled muscles and weight room accidents. To ensure you’re not overdoing it, listen to your body and try to balance a gumption to improve with healthy caution.
Not warming up
This is probably the most common bad habit around the gym – after all, you feel fine before you work out, and often don’t experience pain directly afterward. (Two days later can be a different story.) But a warm-up routine is essential when preparing your body for a workout. Go through a full range of motion for every muscle group both before and after exercising. This will give your body the best chance for good health during the workout and good feeling after it.
Not drinking enough water
There is a reason water fountains are so common in gyms. Becoming dehydrated is a major problem for exercisers – especially those engaging in particularly challenging workouts. As we sweat, our body discards toxins and cools itself through sweat. If we fail to replenish our body’s water (and remember, human bodies are over 50 percent water!), we risk lethargy, thirst, lightheadedness, and accidents.
Not varying your routine
When regularly going to the gym, it’s easy for people to get in a groove. Forgetting to vary the routine, however, can prevent you from getting the full benefit of a balanced workout (cardio, strength, etc.) as well as creating oddly over- and under-built body regions.
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Having unreasonable expectations
Nothing proves to be a better demotivator than starting a routine with unreasonable expectations. While exercise goals are encouraged, good health is a long-term, continual process. If you head into the gym assuming you’ll be able to lose 10 pounds in a week, you’ll push yourself too hard and burn out fast. Develop goals that are reasonable, achievable, and long-lasting.
Not eating enough
People who exercise in order to lose weight may find it counterintuitive, but fasting before a workout can actually lead to a weight gain – low blood sugar makes you feel sluggish, which can lead to a less intense, shorter session.
Sitting between sets
While you should (as we noted above) listen to your body, you also need to maintain an elevated heart-rate during a workout in order to burn calories and attack fat. It’s very tempting to take a few moments of rest between reps, but in general, you should limit “down time” as much as possible. (NOTE: If you feel lightheaded or unbalanced, however, stop whatever you’re doing immediately.)
Do you find yourself committing some of these workout “sins”? Let us know how you break your bad habits in the comments!