One of the most common New Year’s Resolutions is to improve health.
Unfortunately, most New Year’s Resolutions are also doomed to fail.
In the interest of saving you time in route to your destination (the body of your dreams, we hope!), let’s examine some of the most common exercise mistakes to determine whether you have what it takes to succeed.
Mistake #1: Doing Too Much, Too Soon
If it has been a while since you’ve exercised, or you have been exercising inconsistently, your body isn’t going to respond well to a strenuous program right off the bat. Choose a schedule that you can stick to (e.g. one hour per day, three times per week), and begin at an intensity level that feels challenging, but not debilitating. Make sure to incorporate adequate time for a warm-up and cool-down.
Mistake #2: Forgetting Proper Technique
When it comes to resistance training, technique is the difference between getting results and getting injured, or not seeing any improvement at all. It starts with proper posture, which means keeping the core engaged (imagine how you would brace yourself if someone was about to punch you in the stomach), and standing tall with a neutral spine, shoulder blades pulled back, and head lifted.
Courtesy of Denverpost.com
Also, make sure you know the purpose of the exercise you are about to perform. What muscles are working? What is the proper range of motion for the exercise? Is this the most effective way to target the muscles I want to work?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s time to talk to a trainer or instructor, or do some research on your own. Time spent now on learning how to do the exercise correctly means less time to your goal.
Mistake #3: Choosing Quantity Over Quality
If doing an hour of cardio means walking on a treadmill while you catch up on the latest episode of Law and Order and you barely break a sweat, then that hour didn’t do a whole lot to help you improve your fitness (the same concept applies to doing a lot of repetitions with almost negligible weight). Working out should feel challenging, and the good news is, challenging yourself appropriately will lead you to the results you want in less time.
Courtesty of Workoutequip.com
Mistake #4: Always Doing the Same Thing
Don’t worry; you don’t have to give up cycling if that is your favorite workout. Just make sure that you are changing your exercise intensity from time to time (alternating hard days and easy days, or increasing resistance over time), and maintaining a balanced program. That means incorporating cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training.
Now for the Number One resolution-killer
Mistake #5: Ignoring the Truth
Make sure you are answering the following questions honestly:
Do I have the time and motivation to reach the goal I have set for myself?
Am I choosing the right exercises for my current fitness level that will help me get where I want to go?
If your goal is weight loss – am I overestimating calories out and underestimating calories in? (For assistance, check out our post on Heart Rate Monitors.)
Do I have a method of measuring my progress that isn’t just stepping on a scale (e.g. monitoring heart rate at a given pace, distance covered per unit time, reps completed before reaching fatigue, documenting how you feel)?
If the answer to these questions is “No,” or “I’m not sure,” you may be setting yourself up for failure. Give yourself your best chance at fitness this year – avoid these detrimental mistakes, create and stick to a plan, and go for it!
What are your fitness goals this year? What steps are you taking to achieve them?