By Martin Ebner
Tired of busting a gut and getting nowhere? If you feel that despite your best efforts to exercise regularly and eat well, there’s very little to show for it, you could be making 1 or more of these 10 rookie mistakes that could be ruining your fitness results:
1.) No warm up
Everyone has their favourite exercises and parts of their workout but whether you like it or not, a good warm up is essential before a strenuous workout and here’s why: It prepares your muscles by increasing blood flow and delivers oxygen to your muscles preventing you from getting out of breath too easily. It also decreases the chance of a sharp rise in blood pressure, lubricates your joints, improves coordination, reduces post-workout muscle soreness and last but definitely not least, severely reduces your risk of exercise related injury!
2.) Poor post-workout nutrition
I’m sure you’re already aware of the importance of good nutrition for better health but did you know that post-workout nutrition could be your most important meal of the day when it comes to reaching your fitness goals?
Following a tough workout, especially weight training, your muscles are sore, tired, damaged and depleted of nutrients. By feeding your body and muscles immediately following a workout, you allow your body to start the muscle repair process. This allows them to grow back bigger and stronger.
Aim to consume a fast digesting carbohydrate with a high-quality protein source (ratio 2:1) within 60 minutes of your workout. Failure to do so can result in sluggish repair which directly affects your body’s ability to recover, progress and perform.
3.) Not following a workout plan.
This is defiantly one of the most important aspects of exercising for results.
Consider your workout plan, a map. It has your starting point, your destination, and guides you throughout your journey. I know it may sound a little cheesy but ask yourself this, would you attempt to navigate your way through a foreign country without a map? Your exercise should be no different!!
If you’re unsure of what your workout plan should include, ask a member of staff at your gym. Most offer workout plans as part of your monthly rate.
4.) Lifting with incorrect form
I can’t remember the last time I went to the gym without gasping at the sight of someone dangerously performing an exercise. We all have egos but please leave them at the door! While you may think you look cool lifting heavy, trust me, you don’t and you’ll not gain any respect from the seasoned gym-goers lifting with poor form!
As a rule of thumb, if it doesn't feel right, it’s probably not! Before you load up the barbell, it’s imperative that you learn proper technique. Otherwise, you may be putting yourself and possibly even those around you at risk of injury.
If you’re unsure of how to perform a specific exercise, ask a friend or personal trainer at your gym to spot you.
5.) Quantity over Quality
For anyone that trains with me or has trained with me in the past will know, I preach quality over quantity always! 5 perfectly performed reps are far better than 10 sloppy ones, just like a well-planned workout is far more beneficial than a poorly planned one. If you’re somebody that approaches the gym on autopilot, it may be time to ask yourself, “why am I doing this and what do I want to get out of this?”
Hitting the treadmill at a snail’s pace with a book in hand might help clear your head and relief stress, but time doesn’t equate to results and if you’re serious about results, you need to exercise smart.
Once you begin to exercise with real purpose, you’ll find that results come thick and fast.
6.) You’re overtraining
Anyone that has overtrained in the past knows how detrimental it can be to both results and overall health. As tempted as you may be to follow in the footsteps of Instagram’s #fitfam elite and the #nodaysoff craze, forget it. It’s utter bullshit!! Muscles repair and grow when they're resting, not when they're active. Therefore if you skip rest days in an attempt to build a killer physique, you may actually be doing more harm than good.
While it’s fine to train with sore muscles from time to time, repetitive over-exercise could lead to a burnout and in some cases an injury.
Symptoms of overtraining include Fatigue, bad moods, irritability, poor results and lack of motivation. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, instead of miserably pushing through the pain, listen to your body! It will tell you everything you need to know. If you simply can’t stomach the idea of a week exercise-free, take a de-load week (Reduce your workout load by around 50%) Trust me, you’ll come back stronger and more motivated than before!
7.) You're eating too much
Many people simply underestimate how much they eat. I hear it all the time “I don’t understand why I'm putting on weight?” Well, I do! You went out at the weekend, drank 12 pints, ate a kebab on the way home and woke up the followed morning to a full English breakfast! Sound familiar? If so, it’s important particularly for weight loss that you be honest with yourself - not only about the kinds of foods you eat, but also the quantities. If you're unwilling to restrict your diet, that’s ok, just make sure that your goals are representative of your diet and lifestyle.
To help give you a better idea of where you currently stand. Spend a week making a food diary (Including single ingredient portions). Once you have it written down in front of you, you’ll have a much better idea of the changes you need to make to successfully lose weight.
8.) You waste time with isolated exercises
If you’re only concern is getting beach vanity muscles, by all means, waste your time and energy working isolated muscle groups like biceps, triceps and six-pack abs. If however, you’re serious about building an impressive physique, focus on compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, pull ups, push ups, lunges, kettlebell swings, dips, hip thrusts etc. While isolated muscle exercises can play their part towards the end of a workout, if you spend all of your time focusing on the smaller muscle groups, your overall calorie expenditure, fitness level and results will suffer.
9.) No variety to your training
If you’ve been sticking to the same workout routine for 12 weeks or more, it’s time to mix things up. Your body adapts and progresses with change, not monotony. Now, this isn’t to say that instead of weight training you need to do yoga. No no no! Simple changes like doing your workout backwards, mixing up the intensity, shortening rest periods and repetition ranges can make a huge difference to your progression.
10.) Not cooling down
Now that we’re almost at the end, it’s time to slow down and cool down! Taking time at the end of your workout to stretch will help avoid injury and enhance your ability to perform at your best next time you workout. A cool down doesn’t need to last 20 minutes long. 5 minutes of gentle stretching is adequate time for your heart rate to return to normal and help rid your muscles of toxins and lactic acid following a tough workout.