Everyone knows exercise is good for you but not everyone knows how to exercise safely and effectively. Here are six of the most common workout mistakes along with tips to make sure your workouts are error-free.
1. Doing the same thing over and over.
By repeatedly performing the same type of exercises, your body no longer feels challenged. As a result, your conditioning level plateaus, and you become prone to overuse injuries. Vary your workouts. You may decide to jog on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, then bicycle on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
2. Skipping a stretch routine.
People will faithfully do their cardiovascular exercise and weight train, but neglect to stretch their muscles afterwards. Stretching exercises are important for muscle relaxation, injury prevention, and proper posture. Perform five to 10 stretches targeting the major muscle groups (like the Basic 10) at the end of every workout session when your muscles are warmed up. Hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds.
3. Using poor form when weight training.
When it comes to safety and effectiveness, it is not how much you lift that is important, but how you lift. The biggest mistake people make with their weight training programs is performing the exercises in a fast, uncontrolled manner, usually rushing the lowering (negative) phase of each rep. Instead, perform each repetition in a slow and controlled manner to ensure that the muscles rather than gravity and momentum are performing the work. It should take approximately one second to lift the weight and three seconds to lower it.
If you’re a beginner, start off slower. Three days per week is realistic, safe and effective. If you’re experienced, do cardiovascular exercises no more than 200 minutes per week with no more than 60 minutes per session. Weight training should be done no more than three days per week targeting the same muscle groups. Exercise the same muscle groups on non-consecutive days.
5. Being inconsistent.
Frequent disruptions will diminish the benefits of any exercise program. A “stop-start” exercise routine is not only ineffective, but can be potentially injurious. The most important factor in achieving desired results is being consistent with your exercise. Be realistic with your exercise routine and schedule it in to your week. Then stick to it!
6. Ignoring your body’s signals.
“Working through pain” is not a good idea. If you are feeling discomfort during exercise that (1) lasts more than two or three weeks, (2) gradually gets worse, (3) interferes with your daily routine and/or (4) is unfamiliar and appears suddenly – stop working out and consult your physician.