Everybody makes mistakes in the beginning! Nobody can expect to learn everything overnight. Fitness can really be a process of trial and error. Still, it helps to learn from other people's mistakes.
Here are TEN common fitness mistakes that should be avoided:
1. Spot Reduction
Wouldn't it be great if a couple hundred crunches a day could give you washboard abs? Spot reduction or spot training is when you work the one part of your body, you feel needs change. Unfortunately, it does not work. If you want to lose weight in your stomach, you need to do cardio to burn fat. Fat will not come off in just one place though. It will be an all over weight loss. You also need weights and strength training to give the abs shape and definition.
2. Improper Technique
This was my first and biggest mistake. I started working out at home, learning weight training exercises from fitness magazines. No magazine can properly explain the subtle differences in technique. There will be questions a magazine or the Internet can't answer and as a result, you could injure yourself. I did! The best thing to do, is to hire a personal trainer. If you are a member at a gym, the staff should be able to go through some exercises with you as well. Nothing can beat an in person demonstration.
3. Neglecting Nutrition
Results are 50% exercise and 50% nutrition. No matter what goals you have, nutrition plays a huge factor in your success. If you want to build muscle you need to eat a lot of healthy food with lean protein, or your muscles won't be fed enough to grow. If you want to run you need complex carbohydrates and water, for energy and hydration. If you want to lose weight you need a calorie deficit and a low fat diet. Fitness and nutrition always go hand in hand.
4. Not Eating Before a Workout
Not eating before a workout will cause you to faint, see spots, throw up etc. It's not pleasant! You will not have the energy and strength to finish an effective and purposeful routine. If you work out first thing in the morning and have trouble eating, drink some juice or have an apple. It will save you the embarrassment of having to sit with your head between your knees at the gym. Plus your workout will be so much stronger!
5. Steroids and Weight Loss Pills
Steroids and pills are a quick fix. Steroids will give you acne and make you short-tempered. Most importantly, it does unfortunate things below the equator. What's the point of having a ton of muscles if your naughty bits will scare people away? Pills are hardly ever approved by the government and they make you sick. You will feel awful, have diarrhea, headaches and sometimes worse! Don't be one of the people that forces the pill company to take their product off the shelves for "Further investigation." Besides, even if they did work, you would have to stop taking them at some point. The weight would just come back again!
6. Unrealistic Goals
Unrealistic goals will set you up to be disappointed. The fitness models you see have been working on their bodies for YEARS! The average weight loss goal can take up to a year or more. Building muscle is also a long process. Those gimmicks you see around, that guarantee you will lose 30 pounds in 30 days are bogus. Keep in mind that the slower you lose weight, the longer it stays off!
7. Excluding Fitness Components
Every fitness component is just as important as the next. You need a warm up to prepare your body for the workout. You need cardiovascular training to lose weight and make your heart healthy. You need strength training to give your body tone, as well as strengthen bones and joints for future training. You need to cool down to bring your body back to its normal state. You need to stretch to prevent injuries so you can continue to cardio and strength train. Every component weaves in through the next. Cardio without weights will make you look scrawny. Strength without cardio will make you look bulky and you won't see much muscle definition. All of the components of fitness need each other!
8. Not Planning
It helps a lot to have a plan. It doesn't have to be very complicated or take much time. You should plan your workouts ahead of time or even write down what you did in the gym, at a minimum. Even if your goals are simple, like wanting to feel good it's helpful and also motivational to see how far you have come since the beginning and to help plan for the future.
9. Starting Out Too Fast
I think it's awesome when people want to dive right in. I love the enthusiasm and drive. The only concerns it brings up is the risk of injury and burnout. Have you ever been swimming for the first time in a while and decided to swim laps? Well, after a few minutes you feel like your heart and lungs may explode right out of your chest. Swimming takes a lot of cardio conditioning! If you have been inactive for ages and want to skip walking and start running right away, you may hurt your knees, ankles and hips. Same with lifting too much weight, too soon. If you work out 7 days a week you may start to feel signs of burnout like fatigue and irritability. It's best to take it slow and let your body adapt at a comfortable pace. If you have not exercised in twenty years and then all of a sudden you are spending a week straight in the gym your body might be shocked and angry with you!
When I first started exercising I would workout and then not do another routine for weeks, or even months! Obviously that's not when I started seeing results. Results happen when your workouts remain consistent. Once a week or less is not enough. Think of it this way, if you put yourself through one or two workouts why let them go to waste by not doing it again for weeks?
If you have already made these mistakes or you are making them right now, no worries! The more you know, right? Just get yourself back on track and remember that everybody makes mistakes. It's part of the learning process!
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