When it comes to exercise, mistakes happen. We all make them. Here are the 3 biggest workout mistakes commonly made.
1) Avoiding Strength Training
Cardio-only workouts are ok to do once in a while, but if you’re not strength training, you’re missing out on some big benefits. Strength training doesn’t have to involve doing heavy shoulder presses or 300 pound squats. You can get some pretty great benefits by using tubes, bands, medicine balls, suspension training systems (like TRX) and your very own body.
Aim to strength train two to three times a week. Take action today and in a few weeks you’ll see a difference. Strength training helps to:
- increase lean muscle mass
- strengthen bones
- improve cognitive function and mood
- boost productivity
2) Steady State Cardio
If you’re workout regularly consists of riding on an elliptical machine for 45 minutes or jogging on a treadmill to bank 4 or 5 miles, you’re doing your body a disservice. While there is nothing wrong with working out at an easy/moderate pace every now and then – even once a week – continuous steady state cardio puts your body on the fast track for storing fat. Even though you still burn calories while your exercising, after you hit the 20 minute mark, your cortisol levels start to increase. Cortisol is a stress hormone with close ties to belly fat. What’s more, as soon as you finish your cardio workout, there is no caloric after burn.
So what can you do? Increase the intensity! After you get on the elliptical, treadmill or cardio piece of your choice, warm up for 5 to 10 minutes max. When your workout is done, try the following:
- 30 Seconds Full Effort
- 30 Seconds Easy Effort
- 1 Minute Full Effort
- 1 Minute Easy Effort
- 2 Minutes Full Effort
- 2 Minutes Easy Effort
(REPEAT this series 4 to 5 times and you’re done!)
note: Full Effort = everything you’ve got, 100%. Easy Effort = walk it out or take all resistance off, recover.
High intensity interval training (HIIT), like the workout above, can be done with cardio equipment, weights or your own body. This is just an example. The benefits outweigh slow and steady cardio by a landslide.
- Workouts are usually shorter, albeit more intense
- Fat metabolism is increased long after the workout ends
- Cortisol, insulin and adrenaline (stress homones) are better managed
- It’s not nearly as boring as moving along at the same pace
3) Eating “Energy” Foods or Drinks Just After a Workout
Unless you worked out for 90 rock-solid minutes, you probably don’t need the sports drink, smoothie or energy bar. They’re all largely carbohydrate-based and often loaded with sugar. Our liver does an amazing job hanging on to extra energy in the form of sugar. After a workout, you should have enough left in the tank to get you to your next meal. If your workout is first thing in the morning, then yes, you should eat after your workout, but make sure you include a good amount of protein and fat, too.
If your workout was less than 90 minutes, but placed a lot of demand on your body (heavy weight lifting, high intensity interval training), then you need protein! This will help your muscles recover quickly. Your muscles are most sponge-like for protein within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.
If sitting down to a big chicken salad isn’t covenant in your sweaty clothes, then keep grab-n-go options handy, including hard boiled eggs, organic plain Greek yogurt with berries, nuts or a clean protein shake.