People often start working out with great intentions but with sky-high expectations. Learn some of the top workout mistakes and how to avoid them.
Well, you finally decided that exercise needs to be a regular part of your life. Chances are you weighed the pros and cons of becoming more active and concluded that the benefits win out.
But are your goals realistic? Do you feel a need to make up for your past inactivity? Having unrealistic or vague goals is one of the top reasons that people eventually become exercise dropouts or get injured.
People often make mistakes when they work out, especially when trying to make up for past inactivity. Many ignore the basic exercise rule that gradual progress yields the best results. Or they overdo it, which can cause strains or significant injuries.
Some common mistakes people make when it comes to exercising include:
Having less than a full hour to exercise is no reason to skip working out. Even 10 minutes of activity can be beneficial.
When time seems short, like when work is busy, it can help to treat exercise like a ritual. Rituals are made by choosing to do an activity regularly. Things like brushing your teeth or walking your dog are rituals. And if you define exercise as a ritual and schedule it very specifically, it can become a part of your life.
2. Improper warm-up
Warm muscles and tendons are less prone to injury and can improve performance. Even simple warm-ups increase blood flow, raise body temperature and help you mentally prepare for your workout.
Begin warming up with low-intensity exercises. Start slowly and don’t wear yourself out. Take more time during cold weather to fully warm up.
Do some stretching once your muscles are warm to make them more flexible. Focus on stretching large muscle groups, especially ones you’ll be using. Hold each stretch for 20 to 60 seconds. Maintain proper breathing during each stretch and make sure not to cause any pain. Finish warming up with exercises that are specific to your planned activity.
3. Unbalanced strength training
People tend to focus on building certain muscles because it’s where they feel strongest or think their appearance will change most. But you need to develop all your major muscle groups for a strong, balanced body. And trying to “spot reduce” will not work.
4. Bad form
Lifting weights incorrectly is the surest way to get hurt. Common problems are:
- Extending certain joints too far
- Jerking while lifting weights
- Failing to work through a full range of motion
- Not adjusting machines to one’s body size
- Lifting too much weight
Remember that gradual, progressive resistance is the best and safest way to build strength.
5. Failing to cool down
Cooling down after a workout is just as important as warming up. A cool-down lowers your heart and breathing rates and helps with recovery. It can:
- Prevent pooling of blood in muscles, which can lead to lightheadedness and muscle soreness
- Aid waste product removal from muscles
Start cooling down by lowering the intensity of your activity. A cool-down should last 5 to 10 minutes. It should be followed by light stretching to relax the muscles used during the activity.
6. Not drinking enough water
You’re already on your way to dehydration if you wait until you’re thirsty. Keep a water bottle near you during exercise and throughout the day.
If you expect exercise to see dramatic results quickly, you may get disappointed and be more inclined to stop. Remember, by changing small parts of your workout routine, your results will improve. And always check with your doctor before you increase your activity level.