Already dedicated exercisers make small but costly mistakes regularly
in their workouts, and one tiny change can have a huge impact on their
results. Time is valuable, and for each precious moment invested you
want to ensure the best possible return. If your body is not yet as lean or
toned as you would like, it is likely that you are committing some key
training mistakes. These errors can sabotage the efforts of even veteran
exercisers. By learning about the most common fitness faux pas and
their fixes, you will mistake-proof your exercise and see tremendous
payoffs. Six of the biggest fitness faux pas are?
Faux Pas #1 Skipping Over Your Warm-up
The Facts? Warming up prepares the body to work efficiently: longer,
stronger and more safely. Skipping your warm-up may cause you to
fatigue early, keeping you from realizing your full potential. Perhaps
more importantly, warming up drastically decreases your chance of
injury. The time spent in a warm up is much less than the time required
to heal a muscle strain or joint injury.
Smart Fix? Invest 5-10 minutes in performing a toned-down
version of your fitness activity or perhaps instead something like walking
or cycling at an easy pace. Some gentle range-of-motion exercises are
always encouraged. Save the deep stretching for after your workout.
Faux Pas #2 Racing Through Your Reps
The Facts? Racing through your repetitions when strength training
uses momentum instead of muscle power. You just won't get the same
stimulus for muscle building, and you won't burn nearly as many
calories. You also make yourself more susceptible to training injuries
such as torn muscles or connective tissue.
Smart Fix? Take a full six seconds to perform each repetition;
2 seconds to lift the weight and 4 seconds to lower it. Slowing down your
performance speed is the single most significant change you can make
to get better results from your strength training.
Faux Pas #3 Getting Married to Your Strength Routine
The Facts? Doing the same routine again and again will cause your
muscles to simply adapt. Without realizing it you are heading toward a
plateau because each exercise stimulates only a limited number of
muscle fibers. However, if you challenge your muscles from a variety of
angles by adding or alternating moves periodically, you will recruit
significantly more fibers into play and develop more tone and strength.
Smart Fix? For each muscle group, learn an additional 2 or 3
exercises, trying new angles and equipment. Expand your repertoire
enough so that you can easily change your entire routine every 6-8
weeks. If you can't get instruction from a trainer, there are plenty of
quality books, magazines and videos available.
Faux Pas #4 Exercising Too Intensely, Too Often
The Facts? If you don't rest enough between hard cardio or strength
workouts, you'll stop making progress and may even lose some of the
fitness you have gained. You are also very likely to burn out on exercise.
Smart Fix? To keep your motivation high and your muscles
fresh, alternate shorter, tougher cardio workouts (20 minutes, for
example) with longer, easier ones (40-60 minutes). Don't go all-out
more than twice a week. The more intensely you train, the more time
your body needs to recover. Take a day off completely after a couple of
tough workouts and make sure that you take at least one day off
between strength training sessions that work the same muscle group.
Faux Pas #5 Lifting the Wrong Amount of Weight
The Facts? If you lift weights that are too light, you won't see
improvements in tone, strength, or bone density. If you lift weights that
are too heavy, you will compromise proper form, increasing your injury
risk and diminishing your overall workout. You'll be forced to recruit
additional muscles to help with the work, thereby cheating the muscles
of a good workout. Unfortunately, a very common example of this is
using the entire body to complete a biceps curl.
Smart Fix? For moderate strength building, perform 8-12
repetitions per set, for maximum strength building, perform 4-6
repetitions per set. The key is to choose weights heavy enough that you
struggle through the final few reps, but not so heavy that you lose your
form. If you get to your final rep and feel that you could perform another
one, slightly increase the weight (5-10%). It's fine to drop a few reps as
the weights increase. Just remember to fatigue the muscle by the final
Faux Pas #6 Gliding Through Your Cardio Workout
The Facts? Getting complacent about your cardio workout can
sabotage results as badly as pushing too hard. To truly boost your
fitness levels, you need to venture beyond your comfort zone a couple of
times during the week. This turbo-boost will actually enable you to burn
more calories with even less
Smart Fix? Instead of zoning out or doing moderate-intensity
cardio all the time, mix in some high-intensity intervals twice a week.
This is a great area to add variety, have fun and play. Make a game of
mixing your intensities over a six-week interval.
Take the time to analyze your workout routines and assess whether you
are investing your time and energy for the absolute greatest results.
Error-proof your exercise for a better workout and a much better body.
Realize your body's full potential by using your mind to workout smart.
Copyright 2005. Karen B. Cohen All Rights Reserved
Karen B. Cohen is a performance and wellness coach as well as a
personal fitness trainer, master yoga instructor (RYT500), and moving
meditation teacher. Living in a college town in rural Virginia, she is
available for seminars, workshops and individual coaching
internationally. Karen can be reached through her latest project