Working out isn’t rocket science, but it IS a science nonetheless. If you’ve ever worked out in your entire life, then chances are you’ve made some mistakes along the way (and hopefully you’ve learned from those mistakes in the end!). But for newbies looking to see some serious changes in their bodies, making these mistakes can lead to debilitating frustration! Often people feel so hopeless because they’re working out hard— but not working out smart— so they’re not seeing the results they want. Read my list of the 7 deadly workout sins to help stave off these workout mistakes and prevent that potential frustration!
Sin # 1: skipping the stretch
You’re 30 seconds into your workout. Chances are, you’ve already committed the first sin. For whatever reason— be it time or hubris or whatever— you’ve decided to forego the stretch. Sure, it’s a good 5 minutes that you can shave off your workout, but at what ultimate cost? Studies have proven, time and time again, that stretching not only prevents injuries but also increases performance; thus giving you a better workout. And a better workout means reaching your goals sooner rather than later! So why is it that people still insist on skipping the stretch? I can’t fathom. But a smart workout is the best workout, and a smart workout always includes stretches!
Sin # 2: giving the cold shoulder to the warm up
Oh yeah, if you skipped the stretch, I’d bet money you skipped the warm up too. It’s often the same twisted logic (I don’t have time for that, I don’t need to do that, why bother, etc.) that causes people to pass on warming up. Unfortunately, you’re really only hurting yourself. Working out without a proper warm up is going to increase your likelihood of injuries, as well as prevent you from performing at peak capability during your workout. So even though you think you’re cheating the system by passing on the 10 minute warm up… you are really just cheating yourself! Don’t skip your warm up, guys!
Sin # 3: cardio and strength “bucketing”
People tend to mentally place cardio activity and strength training into two separate buckets— and heaven forbid the two should ever meet! You hear it all the time: “it’s cardio day,” “done lifting, time for cardio,” etc. I’m not sure where, when, why, or how these people got the idea that cardio and strength should never intermingle, but the fact is it’s really a detriment to your own workout, since combining cardio and strength not only creates a more efficient workout— but also a more intense workout as well! Try alternating sets of sprints, mountain climbers, burpees, or other cardio/plyo activities in between your lifting sets instead of simply standing around staring at your phone at the gym! You’ll quickly feel and see the results when you do!
Sin # 4: performing reps ad infinitum
High reps lend itself to increasing endurance abilities and cardiovascular reserves, so they do have their place in some workout regimens. Unfortunately, high reps are vastly over utilized by most people. I see it often with crunches and sit ups— mostly because the two are such ineffective ab exercises that the body can feasibly do 100+ or 200+ reps of these without any strain whatsoever. To this, I ask a simple question: “if it’s easy enough for you to be able to do 100 or 200 of them, how much benefit do you think your body is really getting out of that?” That’s the moment when it usually clicks! Bottom line, if you can do a large number of reps of a certain exercise, it’s time to look for a more challenging alternative (whether it’s adding weight, performing time under tension, or switching to a more advanced exercise). Skip the countless crunches— opt for a weighted Russian twist or weighted boat passes instead. You’ll feel it, and no way will you be reaching 100 reps!
Sin # 5: always going long
When it comes to working out, people often believe longer is better. Long workouts definitely have their place— particularly so for endurance athletes. But, the fact remains, short workouts have their place as well. High intensity workouts simply cannot, physiologically, be sustained for extended periods of times, so if you want a more intense workout— then shorter is better. A good workout regimen should balance longer endurance-based workouts with shorter intensity-based workouts to create a more well-rounded athlete overall, and skipping the shorter intensity-based workouts halves your physiological proficiencies. These workouts focus on power, strength, speed, agility— and they simply can’t be overlooked! Sure, you might be able to bike for 2 hours straight… but that doesn’t automatically lead to a well rounded fitness level!
Sin # 6: relying only on machines
In today’s world of globo-gyms, people have caught onto the notion of machines. Just like people quip “there’s an app for that,” so too do people remark “there’s a machine for that” without a second thought. Machines definitely have their own value, but free weights and body weight should be the bread and butter of any good workout regimen. Why? Because, simply put, the machine is doing most of the work for you (one of the reason people love them so much!). When you train using free weights and body weight exercises, your body not only needs to lift xxx amount of weight, but you also need to maintain balance, control, stability, and form. Physiologically, that’s more demanding of your body, which leads to more improvement in your body as well. Not only that, but machines rarely mimic the actual movements we perform in daily life, so they don’t always translate well into functional fitness we can utilize throughout our lives. Skipping the free weights and heading straight for the machines is a mistake that’ll ultimately shave off your results.
Sin # 7: going it alone
So you’ve made the decision to be healthier. You want to look better, you want to feel better, you want to be fitter. Awesome! So you join a gym… now what? At first, maybe you putz around on a treadmill or an elliptical. That’s manageable, right? Then maybe you read a couple of the stickers on the machines, and you give it a go with the instructions. Hmmm. Nothing’s really changing. Next you’ll probably sneak a peak at what others are doing. Oh, he’s got a good body, and he’s throwing around those weights like that. I can do it too. Huh. Is this right? Yup, we’ve all been there. The fact is, joining a gym isn’t enough to get you in the shape you want. In all actuality, just going to the gym STILL isn’t enough to get you in the shape you want either.
You’ve gotta have a good plan, and with no knowledge of the vast science behind working out— anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, etc.— it’s next to impossible to come up with a good plan entirely on your own. Unfortunately, people don’t always utilize the resources available to them: reaching out to a qualified trainer for help. Truth be told, there are tons of mistakes you can make when it comes to working out. Improper form, inefficient workouts, unsafe movements, poor planning… they can drive a wedge in between you and your goals. And the more you make these mistakes, the bigger that wedge becomes. In the end, people wind up feeling frustrated— they’re working hard but they’re not seeing results. The problem is that they’re working hard and not working smart too, which is what makes the difference between success and failure. So ask for help!
I’m always eager to hear from my readers. If you have any feedback, questions, comments, suggestions, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me! You can use the social media tools (located on the right hand side of this page) to connect with me, or you can always e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org!