10 Bad Workout Habits to Kick Today
By Todd Tampke, BSc. Exercise Sports Science
Inner Element Fitness General Manager
The health benefits of exercise are numerous and well established. No matter what your current level of fitness happens to be, you are doing yourself a tremendous favor by working out on a regular basis. But are you getting the most out of every minute that you spend in the gym?
If you are courting injury with every motion or working out for hours each week without seeing the results that you expect, you may have fallen victim to one or more bad exercise processes or practices. Inner Element Fitness (IEF) General Manager Todd Tampke outlined 10 of the worst habits that, although invisible to you, may be blocking your fitness progress like a brick wall.
1. Starting intense exercise without warming up
The adage “you have to walk before you can run” rings literally true in the fitness world. Although it doesn’t have to be long (according to Tampke, two or three minutes will suffice), a warm up period is essential before engaging in any strenuous activity.
The comprehensive fitness organization Precor recommends warming up every muscle group with a full range of motion.
2. Static stretching before your workout
How you warm up before exercise is of the utmost importance. As INSIDER health writer Emily DiNuzzo bluntly puts it, “Doing static stretches does not count as a good warm-up.”
Static stretches involve holding a stretched position for a significant period of time (30 seconds to a minute). While this form of warm up can impede your performance, dynamic stretching, which involves movement such as arm circles and leg lifts, not only elongates muscles but gets your blood flowing as well.
3. Exercising at an inefficient pace and/or intensity
“When it comes to working out,” the fitness website Active warns, “slow and steady does NOT win the race.” Rather than completing long workouts at a lackadaisical pace, choose to vary your pace and intensity throughout your workout. Todd Tampke and IEF, for example, support high-intensity interval training that goes up and down in intensity to meet the specific fitness goals of each client. Just be sure to refrain from pushing yourself too hard for too long and leave time for both a warm-up and a cool-down.
4. Failure to plan
Whether you have your own home gym or choose to work out at a fitness club, distractions are everywhere. Avoid outside interference and stop wandering aimlessly from exercise to exercise by going into each workout with a clear and concise plan. Or, better yet, hire a fitness professional or personal trainer to create a plan for you!
5. Choosing the wrong equipment
Make sure to choose the equipment that will best benefit you and help you reach your specific fitness goals. If you want a combination of cardiovascular training and muscle building, for example, you may want to choose an elliptical machine. Just make sure that you know how to use all equipment properly and ask for help when you need it.
6. Taking a “single-minded” approach to your workouts
While there are advantages to concentrating on certain fitness goals on certain days (lower body today, upper body tomorrow, and cardio the next), a strategy that combines multiple elements into a single workout is far more effective. Those who take a more “single minded” workout approach may experience stalled progress. They may need to stimulate their body with changes (from rep and weight alterations to a full change of exercise format.)
7. Neglecting balance and equilibrium
If your body is functioning correctly, your overall balance and equilibrium should be exceptional. To aid with this, engage in athletic activities that promote a strong core.
While many people neglect core work in favor of working out the arms and legs, core strength is significantly more essential to overall health and well-being. You’ll really appreciate the enhanced balance and equilibrium that a strong core will continue to provide as you age.
8. Failing to hydrate
Although many people neglect to drink water during their workouts (insisting that it weighs them down or makes them feel ill), proper hydration is essential to good health while exercising. That said, it isn’t necessary to drink large amounts of water while exercising if you are well-hydrated before and replenish your fluids after.
9. Succumbing to monotony
A varied exercise regimen not only allows you to work out different parts and systems of the body, but it will help push you past fitness ruts and progress plateaus. Plus, if you get bored with your exercise routine, you’ll be far less likely to stick to it!
10. Taking a “lone wolf” approach
While there is nothing wrong with working out alone if you can do it safely and effectively, you can’t underestimate the benefits of working out with a group, a partner, or a personal trainer. The benefits of working out with others includes increased motivation, accountability, and enjoyment.
Ready to get on track? Ask me for help defining realistic fitness and/or nutrition goals and designing the plans to achieve them.
DISCLAIMER Please recognize the fact that it is your responsibility to work directly with your physician before, during, and after seeking fitness consultation. As such, any information provided is not to be followed without the prior approval of your physician. If you choose to use this information without the prior consent of your physician, you are agreeing to accept full responsibility for your decision.