Common mistakes in quest for fitness
The new year can for many mean a new stab at getting fit, which might seem even more appealing as we walk around with our new fuller figures after the festive season. However attempts at fitness regimes can often fail due to common mistakes in how we plan, prepare and perform our workout routines.
We can all set ourselves a goal of doing a certain number of sit-ups or press-ups – but are we doing them correctly? Unfortunately, too many people do exercises inaccurately with bad form, posture and incorrect technique. This not only leads to injury but can also limit any benefits, as you will not be recruiting the correct muscles or may be using them sub-optimally.
Putting fitness on a pedestal
Many of us, at some point, make a resolution to exercise more. However, sometimes having a ‘grand plan’ can actually hinder us. We might decide to go to the gym three times a week but when it comes to it, having built it up, we want our session to be perfect. We then come up with reasons not to go to the gym, such not having the right kit, feeling too tired or being five minutes late. Remember, something is better than nothing. If you’re late, cut your workout short or if you’re tired, reduce the intensity. We can also work fitness into our day, such as walking to work, or taking the stairs rather than the lift.
Not warming up
Many people make the mistake of not preparing their body for exercise. This could be as simple as starting the exercise at a lower intensity, or as complex as doing a structured formal warm up. The purpose of warming up is to increase the range of motion of muscles and increase the blood flow to them so maximal oxygen can be delivered to them for exercise. This helps to prevent injury. Deep heat can come in very handy here, as applying it prior to exercise helps to warm the muscles and therefore increase blood flow. I particularly like the Deep Heat spray as this can be used for hard-to reach areas. A warm up will help us to focus our mind on the activity and will also gently raise our heart rate so that we are cardiovascularly ready for exercise.
Being too comfortable
A classic example of this would be someone who walks into the gym, chats to a few friends, then gets on the treadmill. Following this, as soon as they feel any discomfort and out of their comfort zone they stop and move on to the next exercise. We need to spend time out of our comfort zone at the higher, less comfortable end of our ability in order to progress. This could include doing a higher cardiovascular intensity, a heavier weight, more repetitions, a larger range of motion or a longer duration. We need to stress our body in order for it to take up adaptations to this stress, which allow us to improve in our fitness. It also allows us to be most time efficient.
Not setting achievable goals
There are two problems that occur with not setting achievable goals. Firstly, some do not set any goals at all, which can lead to aimless workouts and training. Secondly, others set unrealistic goals, which can lead to feeling daunted, frozen with apprehension, not getting started, or doing too much too soon leading to injury. You will have more of a chance of achieving your goals if you write them down and make them public – having your friends and colleagues asking about your progress and offering support can help enormously with your progress. Additionally, discuss your goals with a personal trainer as they will help you to set something that is both realistic and challenging, whilst also breaking it down into manageable chunks. Remember, if we set ourselves achievable goals, we will be more likely to keep them and less likely to lose motivation.