There are so many ways we can undermine ourselves in the pursuit of physical perfection. When it comes to working out, we assume that a couple of long gym sessions twice or three times a week will do the trick and we will end up getting the body of our dreams. The trouble is it really doesn’t work like that. Getting fit and looking good requires time, planning and patience and without it, you could be on the long painful road to nowhere.
No fitness plan means no hope
Most people love a plan. A lot don’t. Sometimes in life though you have to accept that without a roadmap you will get lost and this is especially true of getting fit. If you have a workout plan, a purpose or specific aim, then you have a template to success. If you follow it, the chances are you will achieve your goal. If you don’t, you won’t and although it sounds nice to just pop into the gym and make it up as you go along, that strategy just doesn’t produce results.
A plan will help you track your progress, challenge your workouts and help you develop and progress. Think of it like shopping. If you head out to shop aimlessly you will probably just browse aimlessly for hours. But if you head out with a list, you will use your time effectively and only get the things on the list, which will leave you plenty of time to head to the gym afterwards.
Doing too much exercise too soon
Those of you with a plan are probably feeling a little smug right now and rightly so. But how many of you have thrown yourself head first at that plan like the proverbial bull in a china shop? Come on now. Be honest. It’s an easy mistake to make. The trouble is too much exercise too soon could lead to injury, boredom, lack of motivation and a fitness regime that fizzles out a month after it starts.
Your body needs time to rest and recover between workouts and remember that healing, muscle repair and fitness development and adaptation will happen when you let your body rest. The best plan is always to train smart rather than slogging it and that includes everything from getting your warm up right, with the appropriate stretches to cooling down properly.
Not enough variety in your workouts
Don’t get stuck in a fitness rut. It’s something that is easy to fall into, especially if you’ve seen a personal trainer and had your own bespoke workout designed for you. That’s great, but it needs to be assessed and tweaked regularly. If you keep doing the same exercises your body will adapt to it and your progress will plateau. Remember you will also only be developing certain muscle groups while other areas will remain woefully underdeveloped.
It’s so important to keep challenging your mind and body if you want to keep achieving results.
Not pushing yourself enough
Tempting though it is sometimes to stroll out of the gym after 20 minutes with barely a bead of sweat on your brow, it really is not the way to earn killer abs. Even the most enthusiastic fitness fanatic has days in the gym/on the road when they’re not really on it. Everyone is allowed a slight aberration from time to time, but for some people, every day is a light workout where they really don’t burn many calories.
If you don’t get that heart rate up you simply won’t burn calories/fat or lose weight/tone those problem areas. It’s a simple equation. Hard work brings results. Now that doesn’t mean work out until you faint, but it does mean get a sweat on and get those endorphins going.
Not working out correctly
How many times have you seen someone in the gym leaning casually over the elliptical machine reading a book? You can tell by their posture that their not committed to their workout and the reality is they won’t be burning a huge amount of calories with a workout like that. It’s so important to get your technique right when you’re using gym equipment or cardio exercise.
Just as reading a book while going through the stepping motions won’t really help, neither will flogging yourself on the rowing machine until you pull a back muscle because your technique is poor. It is always a great idea to seek advice when you are starting a fitness programme and the most important advice will be technical tips on how to do it properly.
You refuel too much
It’s always extremely important to refuel after any training session.
Your body uses energy from its glycogen stores when you work out and if you want your muscles to recover properly, you need to replenish that energy. That said some people take the refuelling element too far. It can be awfully easy to eat more calories/kilojoules than you’ve burned by picking food full of ‘empty calories’. This term applies to food that is full of calories/kilojoules but offers little nutritional value. For example a cheeseburger is fine as an occasional treat, but it really shouldn’t be your meal of choice after a gym session.
It can also become a post workout habit to snack on energy bars and sports drinks which are full of sugar. Rehydrate with water instead and snack on healthy options like fruit and nuts. A healthy balanced diet will help you hit your fitness goals and improve the quality of your workouts.
Over-emphasis on cardio exercise which ignores weights
Many people shy away from weights when they put together a gym programme because they’re worried about bulking up. They tend to think that running or cycling miles and miles rather than workouts in the gym, will take them where they want to go. That is understandable up to a point, but by ignoring weight training you ignore huge potential health and fitness benefits.
It’s important to bear in mind that you are always in charge of how much weight you lift and the impact that has on your body, so if you want to look like a bodybuilder, you can indeed develop that look by lifting heavy weights. However if you want to tone muscle, increase your calorie/fat burn and boost your metabolic system, then low level weight sessions are a fantastic idea.