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By Tom Holland, MS, CSCS
Fall is definitely here, the weather is getting colder and it’s time to move more of your workouts back indoors. You may even want to ponder your new set of New Year’s Resolutions now, instead of on New Year’s Eve after too many cocktails. As the indoor workout season approaches and you begin a new fitness routine or make changes from your existing one, there are a few common pitfalls you will want to avoid. While they may seem self-explanatory and obvious, the following are a few of the top workout mistakes people make. Consequently, these errors lead to poor results and poor attitudes about working out.
1. Putting All Your Eggs in One Basket
This refers to taking up a new fitness routine or class that you just “love” and doing it exclusively. Yoga, Spinning, cardio kick boxing, Pilates, sports conditioning, etc. All of these are great choices, but you do not want to pick one and do only that and little else, no matter how much you love it. You need to mix up your program to constantly challenge your body and challenge your mind, as well as prevent an overuse injury. You’ll do that routine or class you “love” much longer, with greater results, if you use it as a part of an overall balanced fitness program.
2. Only Doing Exercises that You Like
It’s human nature to do what we enjoy and what we are good at—unfortunately this will not net long-term fitness results over time. Are you one of those guys in the gym with a great upper body and skinny little legs? This applies especially to you. Men love to do bench presses and curls, and women love the leg abduction machine and “butt blasters.” We all must challenge ourselves with new cardiovascular and strength training elements to continue to change our bodies and be balanced, and these might not be things you necessarily “love” to do. One of my strong—yet unpopular—beliefs about health is that fitness does not have to be “fun” at the start. There, I said it. The fun comes in working hard and ultimately seeing the rewards through goal attainment and a healthier and better-looking body. Then, suddenly, those exercises you hated will suddenly become your favorites.
3. Trying to Spot Reduce
There is an infomercial on TV that violates the two most basic rules about getting in shape. In it the fitness expert says that weight loss is not determined by calories in and calories out, and that people fail to see results because they don’t do exercises that target their trouble areas. I see so many women spending far too much time doing leg abduction exercises in the gym in an attempt to slim down their hips. For men, the equivalent is doing 300 crunches to try to lose their gut. You simply cannot “tell” your body where to remove fat deposits from, and you are wasting valuable workout time by attempting to do so. You need to work your entire body to achieve real results.
4. Being Stuck on the Numbers
This applies primarily to men but also can affect women. A great example of this is a gentleman I observed recently, working out at my local gym. He used 50-pound dumbbells for his bicep curls, yet he was using anything but his biceps to move those weights. He was swinging them so wildly to raise them up I was just waiting for his back to give out or his shoulders to give in. He then proceeded to do 100 “ab rocking something-or-others” on a stability ball. I can’t call them crunches because they were the furthest thing from it. This is such a common “ego-error,” focusing more on how much you lift or how many repetitions you do rather than focusing on good form and muscle tension. For women it is actually the opposite; they don’t want to use the heavy weights for fear of bulk, and their results suffer as well. Men and women both need to use weights where the last few repetitions are difficult, yet they can maintain proper form.
5. Overdoing the Same Routine
I am still amazed that I can go back to any of the gyms I used to train in years ago and see so many people still doing the same exercises and looking exactly the same. Our body is an incredibly intelligent machine; it adapts to the stresses we impose upon it in a relatively short amount of time. This is why it is so crucial to constantly change around your routine to constantly change your body.
Tom Holland, MS, CSCS
Exercise physiologist Tom Holland is one of the most accomplished fitness experts in the field today. To learn more about Tom visit http://www.teamholland.com/index.html
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