Friday, March 2, 2012

Exercise Mistakes You Didn't Know You Were Making

We go to the gym to see improvements, but it is hard to see progress if common mistakes are being made. These mistakes may hinder or prevent you from reaching your goals or even worse, cause injuries. Are you guilty of any of these?

Skipping the warm up - Many of us are under time constraints and skip doing a warm up, or we do not think it is necessary. Do a couple minutes of light cardio exercise to prepare your body for more vigorous activity. A warm up will increase your heart rate to get your blood pumping, warm up muscles and ligaments which will significantly reduce your risk of injury and will also make your workout more effective.

Not stretching - Flexible muscles are less likely to be pulled as opposed to tight ones. You should start off your workout with a dynamic stretch. This is a "movement stretch" with motions that mimic your workout routine. A static stretch is when you hold a stretch for a certain amount of time, this should never be done on a cold muscle. Stretching after a workout is best as a a cool down.

Waiting until you are thirsty to get a drink - By the time your body quenches thirst, you are already dehydrated. You need to be drinking water before, during and after your workout.

You do the same exercises every time - Eventually your body gets used to the demands that is placed on it and your body is no longer challenged. You need to vary your workout to "keep your muscles on their toes." If you do the same exercises with the same amount of weight, your results will plateau. You will reduce calorie burn and muscle gain. Make changes every 6-8 weeks.

You have the wrong pre-workout snack - Many people prep for the gym with a snack, like an energy bar. However, these bars may be doing the exact opposite. A lot of energy bars are packed with fiber, which is usually a good thing, but not before a workout. Fiber takes a long time to digest which requires energy, energy that your muscles could be using during your workout. You will start to feel lethargic during your workout and have trouble pushing yourself. Instead try foods that are quickly digested, such as a banana if you really need something.

Skipping your workout - Many people think that they need to spend an hour or so at the gym to make a difference. False! Every little bit counts. Even if it's just 10 minutes of yoga at home, it is making a positive difference

Working out to your max every single day - You body needs to rest and recover. This time is used to rebuild muscle and relieve soreness.

You overindulge post workout - While it is recommended that you eat some sort of carbohydrate 30-60 after your workout, eating too much can "undo" all of the hard work that you just did. People tend to overestimate the amount of calories that they burned at the gym. At the end of the day you need to have burned more calories than you have consumed to lose weight.

Skipping body parts - We've all seen the people walking around with disproportionate bodies. An overly muscular upper body and the scrawny legs because they were the body part that was ignored. Not only does this look funny, but it creates muscle imbalances that can lead to injuries. For example if you work your quads (the front of your legs), your hamstrings (the back of your legs) need to be worked also or you could get lower back pain.

Training smaller muscles before your larger muscles - It is important to work you larger (target) muscle groups before your smaller (supporting) muscle groups. If your supporting muscles fatigue first, you will not be able to effectively workout your target muscles. Ex. you want to workout your back muscles before your biceps. Your supporting muscles will be worked as you are working your target muscles.

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