10 Common Fitness Blunders

Mistakes to avoid when training

We all make mistakes at some point, they are inevitable, however there are  some that are best avoided. Correct?? Below, is a list of our top fitness training mistakes that we encounter, so read these to ensure you stay on track and are training effectively! Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned fitnessaire these are well worth a read…

  1. Skipping the warm up Many are pushed for time or arrive late and think that to save time they’ll skip the warm up and burst straight into it. However, by doing this you are actually making the session harder for yourself! It is proven that no matter which sport you do, it is well known that performing a warm up is vital for improving performance, increasing range of movement and reducing the risks of injury.  So spend that extra 5 – 10 minutes lightly warming up and getting your heart rate pumping to ensure you have a superb session.
  2. Exercising on empty Does your car run well with no fuel?? Well exercising on an empty stomach has a similar effect. A few years back, the idea of exercising on an empty stomach was seen as the best approach to weight loss and although the science involved makes sense theories have changed and this strategy will eventually backfire.  Training on empty first thing before eating will encourage your body to utilize its fat reserves for energy, however this is only effective if carbohydrate levels are present and these are generally low if you have not eaten. So, as a result fat loss is compromised and exercise seems a lot harder causing you to burn fewer calories. Another side effect to training on empty is that you may start to use your protein stores as a source of energy and lose all that hard earned muscle. So eat before you train!
  3. Getting stuck in a rut with your fitness sessions This is easily done and a very common mistake to make. Constantly doing the same exercises and routine each session may feel good to start out however, after a couple of weeks this will seem easy and your fitness will plateau resulting in you becoming bored! So, for instance when you initially started running half a mile on the treadmill, it felt good, but constantly performing this without pushing yourself that extra bit i.e. increasing the speed, distance, time or incline will effectively lead to lack of motivation! The trick to make continual progress with your training is to keep raising the bar as often as possible – generally every 6-weeks or so.
  4. Doing sit-ups to improve core stability Even gym trainers are guilty of talking about building core stability and then giving clients exercises to do such as curls, crunches and sit-ups, which do nothing more than work the superficial layer of the abs – the rectus abdominis (your six-pack muscle). Unfortunately, even a rock-hard six-pack won’t do anything to improve your core strength and stability. For that, you need to dig deeper – targeting the transversus abdominis muscle. Strengthening it will not only create a strong, flat stomach; it will also give support and stability to the lower back. Pilates is one of the best exercise techniques for honing the deep abdominals – or you can get a personal trainer to show you some core exercises, such as the plank, the side bridge and a seated balance on a fit ball.
  5. Lifting weights that are too light Firstly, a bit of muscle physiology. Muscles contain millions of fibers that can be split into two main types – Slow Twitch (Type 1, aerobic) and Fast Twitch (Type 2, anaerobic). Type 1 always engages before Type 2. Type 1 fibers are our endurance fibers, they are highly resistant to fatigue and utilize oxygen in order to generate more energy. Type 2 on the other hand, are our explosive fibers and will tire out quickly but provide a powerful movement – ideal for that last push when the going gets tough. These fibers are generally split 50/50 through out the body; however these fibers can adapt and change to the other type depending on your training regime. For example, a marathon runner would predominantly use Type 1 fibers compared to a sprinter who would use Type 2.  As a result following a low weight, high reps strategy will not increase muscle size but make a muscle firmer and denser as it fills the empty space within the muscles – this involves predominantly working only Type 1 fibers. If you’re after bigger muscles then push yourself that extra bit to engage your Type 2 fibers.
  6. Consuming too much after a workout Refueling after a workout is a must but be sparing! Exercise burns lots of calories, and if you intend to get up and do it all again the next day, then you will need to ensure your glycogen stores are replenished post-workout. Though to be fair, most of us exercise to shed fat or firm up rather than workout daily. In fact, the majority of people consume more calories straight after their workout than they physically burned during their workout and then have dinner! So remember to be sparing straight after training.
  7. Working in the ‘fat-burning zone’ Despite what those little charts – or green, amber and red light displays – on the machines at the gym say, the idea that you only burn fat when you are exercising in a particular ‘zone’ of intensity – usually between 60 and 70 per cent of your maximum rate – is actually wrong. The fact is, we burn fat 24 hours a day – it’s just that the percentage of overall energy that comes from fat changes at different levels of intensity. A greater proportion of fat is burned during low-intensity exercise, which is where the idea came from that we should exercise more gently – but here’s the thing: while the percentage of fat contributing to energy expenditure may be lower during more vigorous activity, it is the overall number of calories burned that really counts when it comes to fat loss. That means working as hard as you can, for as long as you can, as often as you can! We’re not suggesting you won’t gain any benefit from working in the so-called ‘fat-burning zone’, of course – just that you will benefit more by increasing the intensity.
  8. Not stretching before exercise Ask yourself how often you stretch after exercise?? Once or twice. How about generally?? Everyday, once, twice a week or never. The likelihood is that most of us don’t at all and neglect stretching all together. This is a big mistake. Our natural flexibility begins to decline from when you’re as young as 25, so even if you don’t care much about extending your range of motion and suppleness, you need to hold on to what you’ve already got! Though out our daily lives our muscles are constantly shortening in length to suit the tasks we are performing i.e. bicep curl – stretching allows these muscles to return to their natural length. It is also useful for maintaining a full range of movement, reducing lactic acid and stiffness after exercise and ensures the correct and natural alignment between the muscles and the Skelton. Stretching should only take 2-3 minutes when they are warm and each stretch should be held about 30 seconds. Easy!
  9. Failing to keep tabs on your fitness progress Why may you ask?? Every elite athlete keeps a training log/diary, to record his or her progress, thoughts, PB’s, success and failures. This enables them to keep track of how they are doing, and determine what training works and doesn’t work for achieving their goals. You may not have your sights on competing at the 2012 Olympics but it is wise to keep a record of your regime otherwise how can you determine if you are really improving or getting fitter! Many Personal Trainers keep a record of each session and how their clients are progressing and it’s a great tool to stay motivated!
  10. Not listening to your body One of the most important pieces of advice when training. That little niggle, pain or ache you are experiencing is your body telling you to STOP! Have you ever heard this before – How’s your knee? ‘Oh, it’s a bit sore. I did a 10k race last night and I’m going to see how it holds up in circuit training tonight …’ If this is you, stop! Pain is your body’s way of saying that something is wrong. Ignore it at your peril. The odd ache is natural however it is best to keep an eye on it, perhaps a Sports Massage or a couple of days rest will suffice! If you refuse to listen then it could be to your detriment and the possibilities are endless.
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