Going to the gym is an excellent way to get in shape, meet like-minded people and stay motivated. Unfortunately, many gym-goers make mistakes while working out that prohibit them from getting the results they desire.
Here are five common mistakes to avoid if you want to get the most out of your time at the gym.
1. Performing The Same Workouts At The Same Intensity
Repeating the same exercises at the same intensity for the same number of reps creates a plateau effect in your body. You’ll see results to begin with, but after a while, your muscles will become accustomed to the moves and won’t change any further.
To truly get fit, you need to stress your body to recover and grow, then repeat that process. Switch up your workouts, add weight to your favorite technique, or strive for more reps each session.
2. Training Too Hard
While pushing yourself is a good thing, going to the point of muscle exhaustion is too far. Muscles grow when stimulated, not when crushed.
Exercising this hard puts excessive stress on your muscles and nervous system—making it more difficult for your body to recover and easier for it to sustain injuries.
Instead of maxing out your muscles every time you train, add a little more intensity each session to gradually increase the stress on your body.
3. Overextending Your Spine
Maintaining a neutral spine is crucial when working out, especially if you’re lifting heavy weights. Overarching causes back pain and leaves you more susceptible to injury.
To combat this, keep your core and glutes tight to stabilize your lower back.
4. Stopping Short Of The Full Range Of Motion
Failing to complete a move with each and every rep is harmful to your joints. There’s a reason fitness pros have designed exercises certain ways.
Be sure to watch your technique and complete the range of motion for each move. This improves your results and strengthens your joints.
5. Not Paying Attention To Safety
When exercising with a barbell and weight plates, it’s vital to utilize the safety features that go with the equipment.
Weight collars and clips keep weight plates in place while you work out, and safety bars offer a solution in case you need to drop the bar. Each of these items is designed to prevent equipment-related injuries and should always be used.
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Fitness bands have certainly been hyped up by the media. However, a growing number of Fitbit-wearers are finding that their tracker has caused weight gain rather than weight loss or weight maintenance.
Why Fitness Trackers Spur Weight Gains
Part of the problem with fitness trackers is that they don't always provide sound advice. These monitoring devices gauge one's activity level and suggest a corresponding amount of calories that can be consumed and burned.
However, the device isn't completely accurate in terms of measuring fitness activity and caloric consumption levels. As a result, some fitness trackers have caused health-conscious individuals to consume more calories than they should. These bands mistakenly overestimate physical activity levels, making people think they are exercising more than they actually are.
The bottom line is that fitness trackers don't account for each wearer's unique metabolism and other biological idiosyncrasies. Some people process food quickly while others have a comparably slow metabolic rate. If your metabolism is faster or slower than the tracking device anticipates, you might not be provided with sound advice regarding daily caloric consumption and physical activity levels.
Fitness Trackers Don't Account For Well-being
Some fitness tracker users consume fewer calories than they burn yet still don't experience weight loss. Aside from metabolism speed and possible technical errors, an alternative explanation is that fitness bands don't account for overall well-being. In the end, weight loss is more than mathematics. One's well-being and other variables like hormones, the time of day/night when meals are consumed and sleep patterns, also play a role in weight loss.
The key is to not become overly fixated with the quantification of food consumption and exercise. Recognize that fitness bands have their limitations. For example, fitness trackers can't monitor the type of calories one assumes. Try to eliminate as many simple carbohydrates, artificial sugars and high-calorie foods/drinks to maximize the accuracy of your fitness tracker.
What To Do If You've Gained Weight
If you've gained weight, you can still get your body back. The summer is the perfect time to work off extra pounds. Join a gym. Try out a new workout program. Change up your diet. It's never too late to get the body you've always wanted.
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Walking as a form of exercise is often thought of as ineffective or too easy, so many fitness buffs add weight to their walks to experience more drastic results.
But is this the best way to make the most of your stroll through the neighborhood?
Benefits of Walking
Despite popular opinion, walking is a highly effective workout—when done properly. According to Art Weltman, an expert in exercise physiology, “Fast-paced walking, when combined with healthy eating, is hugely effective for weight loss.”
It also benefits your overall health, reducing your risk for everything from depression to heart disease. Additionally, studies have shown that women who walk at a high-intensity level for 30 minutes at least three times a week burn more belly fat than those who walk at slower paces more often.
Weights or No Weights
The trick to making your walks more effective isn’t adding weight, as some might believe. In fact, added weight may actually have a negative impact on your health.
Today, many trainers don’t recommend walking with added weight (think: arm bands, ankle weights, hand weights). That’s because doing so causes fatigue to set in more quickly, which means your form suffers. As a result, you compensate for certain movements, leading to low back pain or even injury.
Separate is Better
Instead of adding weight to your walking routine, try amping up your speed. Power-walk for thirty minutes a day, three times a week. Or turn walking into a HIIT workout by strolling for a minute, power-walking for two, then strolling again until you’ve reached the thirty-minute mark.
As far as strength training goes, don’t neglect it—just do it before you walk. Exercise physiologist and trainer Michelle Lovitt suggests, “Do one thing at a time as intensely as possible, and then move on to the other.”
Unless you’re an athlete in training for a competition, the only time adding weight to a walk is acceptable is if you’re only going to be walking for a short amount of time, like five minutes.
Even then, most experts recommend using a weighted vest so that your balance doesn’t get thrown off and affect your form.
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