Mistake #1 – Using bad form and technique – No matter what program you use, if you are doing the exercises incorrectly, it will cause damage either now or later. At least 90% of the people I see exercising are using bad form and technique and it’s typically because they want to get done quickly and/or they want to use as much weight as they can. Over time, this will add up to prematurely aging of your body and your joints and you more than likely will face joint replacement surgery in your future.
Solution – Slow Down. When doing resistance exercises whether it is a machine, free weights, or body weight exercises like pushups or squats, always take 4-5 seconds with a pause at the top and bottom of every single repetition. With the speed and jerky motions that I have seen many people use during an exercise, I can’t even believe they have any joints left at all.
Mistake # 2 – Exercising through pain – If you are having joint pain when you exercise, your body is telling you something is wrong. The worst things you can do are to self diagnose and continue with what you are doing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone do an exercise and then stand up, grab their shoulder, elbow, back, or knees, rub it for a little bit, try to “stretch it out”, and then go right back for another set.
Solution – Go to your doctor and get checked out. Once you know what the problem is, you can get with a physical therapist and they can show you how to correct the problem. Whatever you do, don’t “work through” the pain. You might think you’re getting by with just a little pain but in truth, you’re making it worse and more than likely causing problems in other parts of your body. There are so many ways to modify exercises to avoid pain and causing more damage; you just need to learn what they are and start using them.
Mistake # 3 – Over training – From what I see, at least 50% of the people who exercise on a regular basis are over training. They are either exercising too much at once, exercising too often, or doing both.
Solution – Listen to your body – There are several signs of over training like soreness lasting more than 72 hours, sore and achy joints, being more susceptible to colds and other illnesses, difficulty sleeping, lack of energy, and a drop in workout production. Pay very close attention to your body and when you experience things like this, take some time off from exercising, reevaluate what you’re current exercise program involves, and start back by doing less.
Mistake # 4 – Being unprepared to exercise – I’m not talking about forgetting your workout shoes and clothes, I’m talking about not doing the things your body and your mind need to get the most out of your workout.
Solution – Be ready – To get the most out of your workout there are several things you need to make sure you are doing before your workouts and I have listed them here:
Eat the right foods at the right times – always eat a good balance of protein, complex carbohydrates, and good fats 2-3 hours before you exercise.
Be well rested – always shoot for 7-8 hours of sleep every night and if possible, take a nap during the day.
Have a plan – plan your workout the night before or the morning of your workout so you can get started on time and be efficient.
Get your mind right – clear your thoughts before you walk in to exercise. Take a few minutes on your way to the gym to let go of your thoughts about work, relationships, finances, and all the other things that can bog you down.
Warm Up – always do a light warm up of 5-10 minutes before you do any resistance exercises. When doing cardiovascular exercise, always start slow for the first 3-5 minutes and gradually increase speed and intensity as you go. Walking to the gym from your car is not considered a warm up so you can’t count it. Don’t get mad at me.
Stretch – always do some light stretching for all of your major muscle groups before you exercise. The absolute best scenario for warming up and stretching is to do a light cardiovascular warm up for 3-5 minutes and then stretch. Don’t forget to stretch after your exercise session as well. Remember, not stretching is one of the biggest, if not the biggest causes of back pain.
Mistake # 5 – Not recuperating – this is a big one and it’s a mistake made by a lot of people. Not giving your body what it needs to become fully recuperated after your workout will not only affect your entire body that day, it will affect it in a negative way for days to come.
Solution – Eat, Sleep, and be Happy – It is essential that you feed your body as soon as you can after your workout. More specifically, you need to again have a balance between protein, complex carbohydrates, and good fat within 30 minutes after completing your workout. Whatever you do, don’t skip a meal. You also need to get plenty of sleep (7-8 hours a night), control your stress, stretch those muscles often, and work on being content with your life.
Mistake # 6 – Using a program that doesn’t match your needs and goals – this can make working out very confusing and frustrating for a lot of folks. Your effort may be great but your results may be lacking because you’re using a program that isn’t designed to do what you need it to do.
Solution – Do your homework – The absolute best thing you can do for yourself is to research different body types and the exercise programs that work best for each. For example: If I have a client who is needing and wanting to drop weight, I’m going to keep them moving the entire workout and make it more about endurance by using cardiovascular exercises in between their resistance exercises. On the other hand, if I have someone who wants to gain muscle and is not trying to lose weight, I’m going to design a workout that concentrates on resistance training with no activity between their sets.
Mistake # 7 – Taking bad advice – there are a lot of people giving exercise advice these days. But the question is……should you take it? From my experience from overhearing tons of advice in the gym, I feel very comfortable telling you to be very aware of any and all fitness advice.
Solution – Research, research, research – Before you use any exercise advice, there are three things you can do: Research the advice you were given through reputable and professional sources, apply my “fit or fail” questions, or call me.
Mistake # 8 – Giving incorrect exercise advice – this is the other side of the coin. I am all about helping people to have better outcomes with whatever they are doing but if you give someone bad, incorrect, or harmful advice about exercise, you could very well be the reason they get hurt.
Solution – Know exactly what you’re saying and be able to back it up with proof – Before you give advice on exercise to anyone, do your research and make sure the advice you’re giving is 100% correct or don’t give advice at all. This goes for everyone including certified trainers.
Mistake # 9 – Not journaling exercise activity and results – I very rarely see anyone doing this and it’s one of the most affective things you can do. Not journaling your exercise activity and results can lead you on a wild goose chase and can be a major obstacle on your way to making progress.
Solution – Track and review ALL exercise activity – When you keep records of your workout activity along with notes on the results, you will increase the likely hood that you will be successful in getting healthier. You can see in black and white when your strength goes up or down, when there is a change in your endurance, and you can certainly see when it is time to do something completely different.
Mistake # 10 – Quitting – If you look back through the first nine mistakes I have listed here, you will see the biggest reasons people give up on exercise. There are others but these are the main ones.
Solution – Change things and keep fighting – When you are not making progress with your exercise plan the easiest thing to do is to just stop. Am I right? It may be the easiest thing to do but it’s also one of the most damaging. You have to fight through, change some things, and keep going.