EXERCISE seems easy enough — join a gym, join your friends for jogging and other light exercises in the morning, or follow the fitness routines on your favourite YouTube channel or DVD. But while your attitude may be right, some of your habits could be undermining the quality of your workout and the results you could be achieving.
According to Gisel Harrow, fitness trainer at Hard End Fitness Factory on Ardenne Road, we are all prone to exercise mistakes. The important thing is to identify and fix them.
“We all make mistakes while exercising. It's not uncommon, even for professionals as well as mere fitness fanatics. Some can be blatantly obvious while others are simple, yet hard to recognise immediately. However, once you've acknowledged and corrected them, you can maximise your results,” she advised.
Below are some of the most common workout mistakes that Harrow has encountered:
1. Too much too soon
You've joined a gym and naturally, especially if you are serious about achieving a fitness goal, you are excited. And one of your first mistakes is to start with heavy weights or an advanced class.
“This can cause severe soreness, fatigue, and muscle strain, which will result in you either losing interest or being out for a few days. It's best to start with basic exercises such as cardio (cardio equipment or dance class), body weight movements or light weights with minimum sets and repetitions,” Harrow advised. She said that you should always aim to cool down and stretch afterwards as well, as many people tend to forget this step.
2. Incorrect form
“While challenging yourself in the gym is a great way to increase cardiovascular and muscular strength, it's best to do so with correct form,” Harrow said. She pointed out that when you are trying to increase the weight you use for exercise, be sure that the weight can be controlled through the entire range of motion. She said that far too often people will swing their whole body into an isolation move in order to move the heavier weight.
“Swinging simply adds momentum to help you move the weight, meaning that the muscle doesn't have to do as much work, which is a bit counterproductive. You are better off dropping down to a weight that you find challenging, but can control,” she advised. In addition, Harrow said that if you are trying to go beyond a plateau, ask a spotter for assistance, or complete the exercise with perfect form until you exhaust the muscle.
3. Resting too long between sets
Recovering after each step is very important. Harrow said that this period of time should allow you enough time to gain the strength to overexert the muscle being trained once again. However, she said that too many people use this time to mindlessly shuffle through social media pages, with many people losing track of time and thus losing momentum.
“Make the most out of your workout by resting less and working more. You should feel exhausted after a good workout, not just going through the motions,” Harrow instructed.
4. Because I train I can eat whatever I want
The thought of exercising gives some people the power to want to ruin their diet. They want to put anything in their bodies because they believe that working out will deal with the added calories. But Harrow said that this mentality is a no-no if you are serious about your fitness journey.
“Because you train and know how much hard work you're putting in, you should make better choices. Exercising and maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is critical to achieving your goals for a healthy lifestyle,” Harrow underscored. She pointed out that working out and constantly treating yourself to unhealthy (especially junk) food is very counterproductive and yields no results except disappointment, especially if you're working hard in the gym.