The five biggest fitness mistakes

Take a walk through any gym, and you’ll notice many mistakes. There are mistakes that waste time, mistakes that put people in danger and mistakes that are just plain funny. Maybe you even make a few of these mistakes yourself, heck I know I made more mistakes at first than anyone.

By avoiding these common blunders, you’ll put yourself on the fast track to results. Check out the following five fitness mistakes and the solutions you need to avoid danger and to get fit fast.

Mistake one: You use the wrong weight

The goal is to challenge your muscles, not to simply go through the motions. If you are able to complete your repetitions easily, then the weight is too light. On the flip side, if you aren’t able to perform an exercise through its full range of motion, and find yourself cheating on form, then the weight is too heavy. So if you goal repetition range is eight and you hit eight reps on all your sets, then next time increase the weights a tad and challenge yourself and your muscles.

The correct weights will feel challenging by your last few repetitions, but won’t force you to sacrifice form.

Mistake two: You do the same routine over and over

You may have noticed that most people do the same exercises each time they visit the gym. Maybe you’ve been doing the same exercise routine as long as you can remember – if it isn’t broken then don’t fix it, right? Dead wrong!

The truth is that exercise routines have expiration dates, and that is the date that they begin to lose their effectiveness. As a rule of thumb, change up your routine every six weeks or so. This can mean changing the exercises themselves, the rep ranges, the type of weight (dumbbell vs. barbell) or changing the rest times between exercises.

Mistake three: You don’t warm up or cool back down

Most people consider warm up time to be wasted time – they’d rather jump right into the heart of the routine. What they don’t realize is that a good warm up will allow you to perform at a higher intensity, which means greater results. The point of a warm up is to increase your muscle temperature. This increases blood flow, muscle contraction and reduces muscle resistance. Your warm up should last five to 10 minutes.

Same goes for cooling down. Your time is running out and its faster just to hop back in the car and head home. Wrong again. Cooling down gives your body a chance to lower its heart rate, lower blood pressure, loosen up your muscles and get rid of nasty lactic acid (the burning sensation) that can lead to really sore muscles the next day.

Mistake four: You use bad form

Gyms are filled with people performing exercises with bad form. The two biggest reasons are that you aren’t concentrating on the exercise, or you’re trying to lift weight that is too heavy. Lifting with improper form always results in injury, either now or later on…but it will always catch up to you.

Take the time to achieve proper form, by doing so you’ll avoid injury and will reap the full benefit from each exercise. If form is bad, the wrong muscles will be working/not working and you won’t get the results you are looking for.

Mistake five: You workout alone

People who exercise alone are less challenged, less accountable and typically see fewer results. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Why rush to the gym if no one is there waiting for you? Why push yourself if no one is watching? Exercising alone is a recipe for disaster.

The best way to avoid injury and to see results is to work out with a friend, a co-worker, a fellow gym goer or a personal trainer. The accountability and encouragement factors are priceless on their own. Statistics show that people have much better results and get them faster with a partner.

This and more health and fitness articles can be found our free online magazine @ www.360fitness.fitpromag.com.

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer. He can be reached at 403-347-1707 or check out www.360fitness.ca for more information.

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